Talking points from Gareth Southgate’s England squad announcement

All the rumours and speculation can now come to an end, as Gareth Southgate has confirmed his England squad for this summer’s European Championships. Due to the high demands placed on players as a result of intense scheduling this season, international managers have been allowed to bring 26 players to Euro 2020, and Southgate has finally whittled his 33-man provisional squad down to the final 26.

England are one of the tournament favourites in the Euros 2021 odds, and there is certainly plenty of talent within the ranks. But did Southgate get his final selection right? Let’s take a look at a few of the key points of discussion in the wake of the squad announcement. 

Four right-backs

Much of the speculation in the build-up to the squad selection centred around whether or not Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold would be included, and in the end Southgate couldn’t ignore the good late-season form of the right back. Many had felt that if Alexander-Arnold made the cut, either Reece James or Kieran Trippier would be omitted, but in fact all three have been included, alongside Manchester City right-back Kyle Walker.

“We have four players that play sometimes at right-back for their clubs,” Southgate said. “Basically they are in the best 26 footballers and that is why they are in the squad. If I could have picked five or six right-backs I would have done.”

To bring four right-sided defenders is a strange call, and it’s hard to see how all four will make a meaningful contribution to the team during the tournament, but it’s true that each brings plenty of quality to the role, and Southgate would love to have the same strength in depth in every other position on the field.

Injury doubts included

There is a place in the team for both Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson, who are both just returning to fitness after lay-offs through injury. Neither has played much football over the last month or so, and it will be interesting to see if both players make the starting eleven for England’s first match against Croatia on June 13th.

Injuries aside, you would expect Maguire and Henderson to be guaranteed starters for England, but if they are lacking match sharpness then that could be exposed by opponents in the group stage. One player who didn’t make the cut because of injury concerns is Mason Greenwood, with the Manchester United forward having played through an underlying injury for some time.

Bellingham gets the nod

A number of young call-ups to the provisional 33-man squad were cut, but Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham has made the final squad, and England fans will be excited at the prospect of seeing the talented 17-year-old in action. He is the youngest player to feature in an England squad for a major tournament since Theo Walcott was brought to the 2006 World Cup.

Without doubt, it was Bellingham’s performances against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals that caught Southgate’s style. The midfielder is blessed with a variety of attributes, and plays with the kind of maturity which belies his tender years.

The seven players to miss out on inclusion in the final 26-man squad are: Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard, Aaron Ramsdale, Ben White, Ben Godfrey, James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins.

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