Saturday, June 22, 2024

England manager Gareth Southgate right to axe Marcus Rashford

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If there is one area where Southgate has problems of the right sort it is in attack, where England have an assortment of talent that would be the envy of every other coach in the tournament.

Captain Harry Kane is non-negotiable while, at first glance, it would appear he will be flanked by Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka on the right and Footballer Of The Year Phil Foden on the left.

It means Southgate must find a format to suit Foden because so much of the strategy will be built around England’s young superstar Jude Bellingham, who has taken Real Madrid by storm this season.

Foden has been magnificent playing centrally for four-time Premier League champions Manchester City and Southgate hinted at his adaptability when he said: “Phil has played off the right and off the left. The key with him is where he ends up, not his starting position.”

Southgate faces tough choices elsewhere after admitting there is a danger of taking too many forwards to a major tournament because “they need a lot of love”.

It looks like Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins will fight it out with Brentford striker Ivan Toney to be Kane’s deputy, with the former ending the season in much better form and the latter on a barren streak after scoring from the spot in the friendly against Belgium.

Elsewhere, the upcoming friendlies with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iceland provide a final opportunity for the likes of West Ham United’s Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze of Crystal Palace, Chelsea’s Cole Palmer, the Newcastle United wide man Anthony Gordon and Manchester City’s Jack Grealish to push their claims.

Unlike elsewhere, this is an area where Southgate has a genuine embarrassment of riches.

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