Which England players could benefit if Euro 2024 squad sizes are increased?

By Sports Desk April 09, 2024

England manager Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 selection headaches could soon ease a little as UEFA considers whether to return to 26-man squads.

Teams have been back to preparing for 23-strong selections this summer after being allowed expanded groups to help cope with the knock-on impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

But a return to 26 is understood to have been backed by the majority of coaches at a Euro 2024 workshop on Monday, with UEFA saying it will make a final decision in the coming weeks.

Previous expanded selections allowed Southgate to take a calculated gamble on the fitness of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson at Euro 2020 as the pair recovered from injury.

The same went for Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips at the 2022 World Cup as they worked their way back to fitness and, here, the PA news agency has looked some of the potential beneficiaries if it returns to 26 this time.

Luke Shaw

A key figure in England’s last two tournaments, the Euro 2020 final goalscorer has endured a difficult, injury-impacted campaign. The 28-year-old has only managed 15 appearances for Manchester United this term and has not featured for the national team since last June. Shaw is expected to return for United from his latest setback next month and feature before the end of the season. Southgate would surely include someone he calls “one of the best left-backs in world football” if the squad is enlarged.

Reece James

 

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Right-back is nowhere near as much of a pressing issue as left-back given England’s options, but a selection of 26 would offer James a glimmer of hope. The Chelsea captain has only managed nine appearances this term and is at risk of missing his second successive international tournament, having been ruled out of the World Cup in Qatar with a knee injury. This time James is dealing with a hamstring issue and the Football Association has been in close contact with Chelsea throughout the 24-year-old’s rehabilitation.

 

Jack Grealish/Marcus Rashford

Southgate warned at March’s squad unveiling that Rashford and Grealish had a battle on their hands for a place at the Euros. That fight increased as Anthony Gordon and Jarrod Bowen impressed, plus Cole Palmer has kicked on again with Chelsea after overcoming a knock during the camp. Grealish has since started Manchester City’s last two matches, with Pep Guardiola saying he had a “feeling that he’s back”. Rashford is getting minutes but remains short of last season’s form. Despite the competition, the established duo surely both get into an expanded squad.

Mason Mount

 

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The 25-year-old is a favourite of Southgate but was still a Chelsea player when he last represented England. In fact, injuries have prevented Mount from adding to his 36 caps since coming off the bench 16 months ago in England’s World Cup quarter-final loss to France. Now a Manchester United player, the midfielder is looking to end a frustrating first season at Old Trafford on a high having returned from his latest injury issue. Last month Southgate said Mount will know he is an “outside bet” but an image of him posing for photos in the latest England kit set tongues wagging.

 

Ollie Watkins/Ivan Toney

England captain Harry Kane is sure to be the main man this summer, fitness permitting, but the back-up striker slot is up for grabs. Dominic Calvert-Lewin filled that role at the last Euros and then Callum Wilson did at the World Cup, with it a straight shootout between Aston Villa frontman Watkins and Brentford’s Toney this time. Southgate acknowledged the difficulty of selecting three out-and-out strikers in a 23-man squad, but an increased squad may tempt him to add another specialist.

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