On the plane or waiting game: Where do England players stand ahead of Euro 2024?

By Sports Desk November 21, 2023

Gareth Southgate’s England squad selection will be a huge discussion point as next summer’s Euros come into focus.

An unbeaten 2023 is now in the history books and the PA news agency has analysed how Southgate likely sees his options right now.

Goalkeepers

On the plane: Jordan Pickford (Everton).

In the departure lounge: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace) and Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Hoping for a late ticket: Nick Pope (Newcastle).

Pickford established himself as England’s number one ahead of the 2018 World Cup and is all but certain to go into his fourth major tournament as the main man between the sticks. Ramsdale had looked his closest contender but David Raya’s arrival at Arsenal has impacted his playing time and could well damage his international ambitions. Johnstone has supplanted Pope as third choice for the time being.

Defenders

On the plane: Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle) and Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

In the departure lounge: Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Levi Colwill (Chelsea), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Reece James (Chelsea) and Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan).

Hoping for a late ticket: Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Rico Lewis (Manchester City), Tino Livramento (Newcastle) and Ben White (Arsenal).

Trippier, Stones, Walker and Maguire have been to every previous major tournament under Southgate and will do so again if fit and playing.

James undoubtedly has the quality to be on the plane but needs to prove his fitness – not ideal given his issues staying available and the competition at right-back.

Injured Chelsea team-mate Chilwell is in a similar position but may benefit from a dearth of options at left-back. That said, he looks behind Shaw and further behind than the Euro 2020 final goalscorer in terms of his rehabilitation.

Colwill can fill in there as he did on his England debut against Australia, which will boost the central defender’s hopes. He missed November’s camp through injury, meaning Tomori and versatile teenager Lewis starting there instead. The latter impressed on his debut against North Macedonia.

Guehi has established himself as third-choice centre-back and Dunk pushed his case before having to withdraw from November’s squad. Konsa was brought in but did not feature. Livramento was name-checked by Southgate and White has not been involved since Qatar 2022.

Midfielders

On the plane: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Jordan Henderson (Al-Ettifaq) and Declan Rice (Arsenal).

In the departure lounge: Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Cole Palmer (Chelsea) and Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City).

Hoping for a late ticket: Mason Mount (Manchester United) and James Ward-Prowse (West Ham).

Bellingham would be in any squad in the world, as would Rice. There are questions over Henderson and Phillips given their club situations, but Southgate has so far seen enough to stick with two players he trusts implicitly. The latter’s place is the bigger doubt given his limited playing time at Manchester City.

The Football Association now lists Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder, with his versatility and qualities surely enough to see him involved in a midfield that Gallagher is now a regular part of.

Palmer got the nod this time and the adaptable attacking midfielder featured in both November fixtures after a fine start at new club Chelsea.

By contrast, Mount’s difficult end to last season and injury-impacted beginning to life at Old Trafford has seen him miss out on recent squads, but Southgate is a long-term admirer of the Euro 2020 final starter. Ward-Prowse has not been called up despite his impressive form at West Ham.

Forwards

On the plane: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) and Bukayo Saka (Arsenal).

In the departure lounge: Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), James Maddison (Tottenham), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) and Callum Wilson (Newcastle).

Hoping for a late ticket: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea) and Ivan Toney (Brentford).

England are blessed with an abundance of attacking options. Skipper Kane is a certainty, as is fleet-footed Saka. Foden, Grealish and Rashford are established performers under Southgate, while Maddison is now a regular squad member.

There are decisions to make beyond them. Sterling has won 82 caps for his country but has not featured since December’s World Cup quarter-final loss to France.

Bowen is another fighting for a sport after his October recall and was denied a chance to take his West Ham form onto the international scene by an issue sustained on the eve of the Macedonia game.

As for Kane’s back-up, Watkins scored on his return to the set-up in October but failed to further his chances with a poor performance from the start in Skopje.

Nketiah was omitted having made his debut last month, while injury hampered Wilson’s chances to prove he should go to another tournament in that role. Calvert-Lewin did at Euro 2020 and is fit again and Toney is the most interesting alternative, although his betting ban does not end until January.

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