Euro 2020, delayed by a year due to the pandemic, kicks off on June 11 – and while there is still the small matter of Europa League and Champions League finals before then, Three Lions supporters can start preparing for the summer parties only an international tournament can offer.
Given the stresses and strains of a unique season, managers of the 24 teams competing at the Euros can name a 26-man squad – up from the usual 23 – so there could be a few surprises in store.
When will the England squad be announced?
The England Euros squad will be confirmed at 1pm BST on Tuesday, May 25, 2021, with Southgate then holding a press conference at St George’s Park.
Southgate will still be able to change his squad up until the final submission date of June 1, while players who go on to pick up an injury can be replaced before the first game of the tournament.
Southgate has expressed his unease with the expanded 26-man squads, so it remains to be seen whether he will actually include a full 26 or stick with 23 and name three extra players on standby – though he would surely face criticism were injuries to derail England’s bid.
Which players will be picked for England?
Jordan Pickford and Dean Henderson look certainties for two of the three spots, while Nick Pope’s injury could allow Sam Johnstone to step in. A bonus for England is that keepers who are injured can be replaced at any time during the tournament, so Pope may be included if the injury is minor.
Left-back picks itself with Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw in. On the opposite flank, Southgate could take three, or even four, right-backs, with Reece James, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold all in with a shout. In the centre, much will depend on Harry Maguire’s injury. Even if the Manchester United captain is not fully fit for the group stages, he could still be included – and he’ll likely be joined by John Stones, Tyrone Mings, Conor Coady… and possible Eric Dier as somebody who can also play further forward.
There are plenty of creative options pushing for a place, though Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice will be certain picks in holding roles. James Ward-Prowse is a solid set-piece pick, and Mason Mount and Phil Foden will be on the list too, with Jack Grealish returning to fitness just in time. Jude Bellingham has had a good season at Borussia Dortmund, and could feel hard done by to miss out.
Jordan Henderson would get a spot normally, but the tournament could come too soon after such a long time out. Then there are a few names competing for similar roles, with Jesse Lingard, James Maddison, Ross Barkley, Harry Winks and potentially Dele Alli all after two or three spots. Bukayo Saka has shone for Arsenal this season, and given he can play anywhere, that should serve him well.
Harry Kane is clearly going, but there are some big decisions to be made from pretty much then on. Dominic Cavert-Lewin is seen as a strong sub choice with his aerial ability, while Danny Ings’ poaching ability could be key in tight games. As for wide forward, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford have both lost their starting roles for Man City and United, but it would be a huge shock to see them miss out. Jadon Sancho should also get the nod.
Southgate will then face difficult calls between the likes of Mason Greenwood, Ollie Watkins, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham and Patrick Bamford – and it may come down to late-season form.
Maguire would be a certain starter in defence, but the United skipper is recovering from ankle ligament damage. The centre-back is a huge doubt for the Europa League Final on May 23 – and should he miss that game, Southgate may have a tough decision to make.
Henderson returned to Liverpool’s bench on the final day of the season and is in theory available, but it remains to be seen whether the central midfielder’s lack of game time will count against him.
Henderson’s Liverpool team-mate Alexander-Arnold was something of a surprise omission from recent squads, but Southgate has had his doubts about the right-back’s defending – and given England’s embarrassment of riches on the right flank, the Three Lions boss may decide he needs options elsewhere, even with the three extra squad picks. The same goes for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who starts almost every game for Man United but has yet to win an England cap.
Nick Pope is currently out with a knee injury and needs minor surgery, so Southgate may also need to call up another reserve goalkeeper.
Leeds star Bamford finished the Premier League season as the second-highest English scorer with 17 goals to Kane’s 23, but has only played up to Under-21 level. Will Southgate offer him a late call-up?