England boss Gareth Southgate facing goalkeeper and left-back dilemmas

By Sports Desk March 13, 2024

Gareth Southgate has headaches to contend with in the goalkeeper and left-back department as the England manager prepares to select his squad for a pair of high-profile Euro 2024 warm-up friendlies on Thursday.

With just three months to go until their tournament opener against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, preparations ramp up with March meetings against Brazil and Belgium at Wembley.

This is the last camp before Southgate names his provisional Euros squad just after the Premier League season concludes, with the final selection to be submitted to UEFA on June 8.

Southgate will be hoping to avoid injury to key players before then but first he has to deal with issues over availability, game time and form in this meet up.

Joe Gomez and Jack Butland have been tipped for recalls, while Kalvin Phillips will be hoping he has enough credit in the bank to earn a call-up despite a disastrous start to life at West Ham.

The selection of Jordan Henderson, another of Southgate’s favourites, has been another major talking point in the build up to the Euros after he joined Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ettifaq, but has now returned to Europe, signing for Ajax in January.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, seen as a midfielder by Southgate, has been out for a month due to a knee issue, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley knocking on the door, while Tottenham playmaker James Maddison is fit again.

Kobbie Mainoo has been tipped in some quarters for a call-up after bursting onto scene impressively at Manchester United, but the 18-year-old could instead join up with the Under-21s.

United team-mate Marcus Rashford has been less impressive and has hot competition in his area of the field, although Jack Grealish is set to miss out this time due to a groin injury.

Anthony Gordon’s hopes of a maiden senior call-up remain alive with his knee injury sustained during Newcastle’s defeat at Chelsea on Monday not as serious as first feared, while Southgate is sure to be quizzed about the future of Raheem Sterling if the forward is omitted again.

Brentford striker Ivan Toney is pushing to be involved after the one-cap player returned to action in January having completed his Football Association ban for breaching betting rules.

Arguably Southgate’s biggest headache comes at left-back.

Man United boss Erik ten Hag does not expect Luke Shaw to be back fit until May and Chelsea have announced Ben Chilwell is “undergoing specialist medical assessment” on a knee complaint.

Kieran Trippier looks set to miss March’s fixtures, while versatile defender Levi Colwill’s toe complaint could rule him out as well.

Rico Lewis made his bow at left-back and was named man of the match in November’s debut display in North Macedonia, but he has only made four Manchester City appearances in 2024.

 

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Gomez, who won the last of his 11 England caps in 2020, is pushing for a recall having done brilliantly at left-back for Liverpool, while talented Newcastle full-back Tino Livramento has impressed.

Reece James remains out and in-form Ben White has been overlooked since leaving the 2022 World Cup squad.

Marc Guehi has been dealing with a knee injury, but fellow centre-back Harry Maguire should be involved and Eric Dier has made an impressive start to life at Bayern Munich.

Jarrad Branthwaite has also staked a claim with his fine displays at Everton, whose goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is the only definite selection among the shot-stoppers.

Aaron Ramsdale has made just two appearances for Arsenal in 2024 and Sam Johnstone has only recently returned to the Crystal Palace starting line-up.

Nick Pope is out with a dislocated shoulder and Southgate has been keeping a close eye on Butland’s performances at Rangers.

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