Who Will Make Gareth Southgate’s England Squad For Euro 2020?

Who Will Make Gareth Southgate’s England Squad For Euro 2020?
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The European Championships are just around the corner and all international squads must be confirmed by June 1 if they haven't already been announced.

Much of the focus is already on joint-favourites England, who have arguably never been so blessed with talent, but with that will come some difficult decisions for manager Gareth Southgate, who last week named a 33-man provisional squad.

The Three Lions boss must narrow his squad for the Euros down to 26 on Tuesday and there are a number of hotly debated arguments as to who should get the nod in certain roles.

The biggest talking point in recent weeks has centred around Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Liverpool right-back who endured an indifferent season but finished off the league campaign with a notable return to form.

England have at least four solid options at right-back – the experienced duo of Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier and the next generation of Alexander-Arnold and Reece James of Chelsea.

Even though UEFA have extended squad sizes from the traditional 23-man squad to 26, Southgate surely wouldn’t dream of taking four right-backs to the tournament.

Bookmakers are taking bets on who will make the final squad and, with the exception of Walker who looks nailed on, it’s almost too tough to predict who will join him based on the odds.

England Squad Odds

Kyle WalkerMan City1/20
Kieran TrippierAtletico Madrid1/4
Reece JamesChelsea1/3
Trent Alexander-ArnoldLiverpool4/7

The odds seem to suggest Southgate will go with Walker and Trippier for sure, having picked both players for the World Cup in England’s last major tournament appearance in which they reached the semi-final.

Is there room for three right-backs in a 26-man squad? Former England international Ray Parlour believes so and he fully expects Southgate to go with Walker, Trippier and Alexander-Arnold, despite reports suggesting the Liverpool youngster will miss out.

“I’d pick Trent,” Parlour told Gambling.com. “He got left out of the squad recently but he’s bounced back from it and played really well. I think Gareth will have noticed that, will have liked his reaction and the character that he’s shown.

“I reckon Jurgen Klopp will have had a little word with Trent as well and encouraged him not to let his head drop, to focus on finishing the season well and he’s been excellent these past few weeks.

“Gareth will have seen enough to bring him I reckon, I don’t think Trent is the type of player who would let him down. He’s got a good delivery, can hit free-kicks and he’s back in form so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s in the squad on Tuesday – I think he will be.”

Twenty-six-man squads will add a new dynamic to international football this summer and will give managers extra food for thought. How can they use the extra three players to their advantage?

We asked Parlour to outline his 26-man squad for England and he opted to bolster his midfield and defence with the extra men, keeping the goalkeeper and forward count at the traditional numbers of three and four respectively.

Ray Parlour’s 26-Man England Squad

“The goalkeepers kind of pick themselves but my number one would be Jordan Pickford, I think he’ll be the one who starts,” said Parlour.

“I know Henderson has had a bit of stick for some errors in the Manchester United team recently but he’s still a good goalkeeper.

“If we had taken Croatia to penalties in the World Cup semi-final I’d have fancied Pickford to get us through, but we got knocked out in extra-time. But Pickford has that as great experience now. He’s had a bit of an indifferent season, don’t get me wrong, but I still see him as England’s No.1.”

Defensive Duties

As for the right-back issue, Parlour believes the quibbling over who should go is ultimately a conversation over who should provide cover for Walker, who has 55 caps under his belt.

“I picked nine defenders in total,” he said. “The two central defenders should be Harry Maguire and John Stones.

“I’m not sure if Gareth will go with four at the back or three, but I personally think he should go with a back four and I’d have Walker in that right-back slot, although he can play as a third centre-half if that’s what Gareth prefers.

“I like Ben Chilwell, he gets forward well and he’s a decent defender as well, so he’s my left-back.”

Although not quite as contentious as the right-back debate, the left side of defence is another area that divides opinion, and Parlour’s decision to omit Luke Shaw in favour of 19-year-old Bukayo Saka – a natural winger – may raise a few eyebrows.

“I’ve gone for Saka because of the versatility he brings,” said Parlour. “He can play left-back, or on the wing. Arsenal have had a difficult season but he’s been one of their best players and I think he’s shown enough to be in the squad.

“Saka can play left-back or he can play right-wing if he has to. He’s a bit of a utility player and if we end up with a big problem in midfield then he can play there. That’s why I’ve got him in there, whether Gareth will or not I’m not sure, we’ll have to wait and see.”

“I think this selection of defenders covers all angles, in case there are injuries or a Covid case for example. There’s the right mix of experience and youth.”

Midfield Matters

The closing stages of the club season saw the return to fitness of Declan Rice and Jack Grealish, a boost for Southgate no doubt with the former Middlesbrough manager a known admirer of both midfielders.

So too is Parlour. Indeed, both Rice and Grealish would make Parlour’s starting XI, although the amount of talent Southgate has at his disposal is forcing everyone to guess how England will line up.

“It’s great to see Declan Rice back in the West Ham side after injury and I’d expect to see him play a big part in midfield at the tournament,” said Parlour.

“Mason Mount has been excellent, one of Chelsea’s best players this season, he’ll be a big player in England’s future but I’d like to see him as a starter right now.

“Grealish is another who has just come back from injury in the nick of time. When he puts that England shirt on he offers something different. He gets in to little pockets, he’s really hard to pick up and he’s very confident on the ball, always looking for it.”

So strong are England’s options that we have yet to even mention Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling, who just helped Man City to their third Premier League title in four years, although both suffered disappointment at the weekend having lost the Champions League final to Chelsea.

“Foden is an obvious choice, given the season he’s had at Manchester City,” said Parlour, who would use the 20-year-old on the right of an attack-minded formation.

“I think he’ll be a starter and will play a vital role at the Euros, let’s hope he carries that club form into the tournament.

“Sterling is always dangerous whether he drifts out to that left-hand side or comes through the middle. He’s got quick feet, likes to cut inside on to his right foot. He’s had a good England career so far and he’s a key component in attack – he’s got to be a starter.”

Young Squad

The average age of Parlour’s predicted squad is just over 25, with 17-year-old Dortmund winger Jude Bellingham bringing that statistic down somewhat. Despite only having two caps, Parlour has seen enough for him to warrant a place in the squad.

“He's been really impressive given the fact he’s only 17 years old,” he said. “There’s always a youngster or two on the fringes. He’s looked so comfortable when he’s come on for England, he seems very mature for his age.”

Jordan Henderson, who was on the bench for Liverpool's final game of the season on Sunday, may not be in line for a starting berth at the Euros but if he's fit enough he is expected to be selected for his leadership qualities if nothing else.

Parlour said: “I’ve picked Henderson, who has had his injury problems this season, but he’s a real leader and I think he’d be great around the camp. He could be a starter if he’s fit, who knows, and he’s also shown his versatility this season by filling in at centre-back for Liverpool.

“I’ve also picked Jesse Lingard based on what he’s done at West Ham, which has been amazing. I’m surprised to see how well he’s done there, but for me he’s played his way back into the England fold and he’d be in my squad.”


Evidenced by his experiments with a back three, Southgate is a big believer in finding the right formation and right XI for the right opposition.

Parlour believes we could see several different formations used throughout the tournament with Southgate likely to make best use of his midfield options.

“I like Kalvin Phillips as a holding midfielder,” he said. “In certain games Gareth might want to play two holding midfielders so he can do a job there if called upon.

“You could have Sterling on the left flank, Foden on the right and then Grealish as the No.10. But then Gareth might prefer two holding midfielders, it depends on the opposition and I think he could mix things up a little.

“Sometimes you have to weigh up the situation and see what the best options are for who you’re up against.

“James Ward-Prowse has had a very good season. He is technically very gifted, very good on the ball – he deserves his opportunity. He’s another free-kick and set-piece expert, but he’s also a very efficient player. I’d bring him too.”

Which Forwards Will Go?

If Parlour’s squad is anything to go by, exciting young strikers Mason Greenwood and Ollie Watkins could miss out on the final cut.

Parlour, who earned 10 caps for England, has picked four forwards and believes Southgate will do likewise given his tendency to play just one up top.

The Arsenal legend has selected Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho as his four forwards, believing the quartet can cover all scenarios thrown at England.

“I think he’ll go with just one up front and that will obviously be Harry Kane,” said Parlour. “Rashford is another who can play down that left-hand side if needed and I like Calvert-Lewin.

“Calvert-Lewin is great at holding the ball up, he’s strong in the air with a great leap and I’d trust him to lead the line if needed. If we’re chasing a goal and Gareth looks to his bench, Kane and Calvert-Lewin up front could be a good partnership.

“Sancho can bring something different to the team off the bench too. He’s being courted for around £100million with Manchester United looking at him, so he’s got lots of talent.

“He’s going to be around for a long, long time in an England shirt so it’ll be good to get him some tournament experience nice and early.

“Let’s hope Kane can stay fit for the whole tournament and he’ll be the main man if so, but if he does get injured then Calvert-Lewin could do a great job as well.”

Most online football bookmakers can barely separate England and world champions France in the fight for favourtism ahead of Euro 2020, with 5/1 apiece the going rate.

Parlour expects the Three Lions to build on the World Cup semi-final run and hopes England can use the increased number of Wembley dates to their advantage, particularly as fans will be allowed to attend games in London.

“They should be getting to the last four at least with the squad they’ve got,” said Parlour. “We don’t know how it’s going to go with injuries at the tournament, but I think we’ve got good back up in all positions.

“Anything less than the semi-finals would be a massive disappointment. Three years ago they got to the semi-final of a World Cup and that’s the sort of standard we should be aiming for.

“They’re not favourites with the bookmakers for nothing. It’s because it’s a great squad and things are massively in England’s favour in terms of the scheduling at Wembley.

“Playing at home makes a big difference. Having some fans there could be very important as well. In England, we always expect a lot from our team but I do believe this is a very talented squad and if they can get the right balance then I think we’ve got an excellent chance of going a long way.

“I think we’re as good as anybody else at the tournament. If the players keep their nerve and turn up, there’s a great chance.”

England will get a chance to inflict revenge on Croatia for their semi-final heartache in the 2018 World Cup when they open up their Euro 2020 campaign against Zlatko Dalić’s side on June 13.

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