Thursday, June 20, 2024

England provisional Euro 2024 squad: Who will Gareth Southgate select?

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Gareth Southgate has some major injury problems, and some big decisions to make, when he names his provisional squad for the Euros on Tuesday lunchtime.

Expect it to include more than 30 names. But the really contentious calls will come when he has to narrow the training squad down to a final 26 for the tournament, in less than three weeks’ time.

The highest profile call may well be the inclusion, or absence, of Marcus Rashford.

He has 60 caps and has been integral to Southgate’s England since the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but many pundits feel his form for Manchester United this season doesn’t warrant a place in the Euros squad – especially seeing as he is doing battle in one of the most competitive positions in the England side.

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Marcus Rashford has gone eight games without a goal for club and country and was used as a late sub in Man Utd’s final game of the season at Brighton

Eight goals and five assists in all competitions is the lowest goal-involvement tally of all those players he is competing with, though we know the England manager is hugely influenced by a players’ international experience, and the job they have done for England in the past – which is where Rashford scores highly.

It may well be that Southgate includes the winger in his training squad, but kicks the can down the road a bit, in terms of the ultimate Rashford decision. 11pm on June 7 is the deadline for all teams to submit their final tournament squads to UEFA. The England boss may want to use the two final warm-up games against Bosnia and Iceland to test a few players, and give game-time to those with injury concerns, before making his ultimate choice.

Rashford himself has missed some action in the last month with bruised ribs and a bruised heel. He hasn’t played more than 15 minutes of international football in any single game since last November.

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Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville debate Phil Foden’s best position for England at the Euros

Which wide players will be picked if Rashford is left out?

Rashford has real competition in those wide-attacking positions. Phil Foden (newly-crowned Premier League player of the season, with a career-best 27 goals across all competitions this term) and Bukayo Saka, are certain of their places (assuming Saka’s mysterious “muscle injury” isn’t too serious, which Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta suggested it is not).

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At the end of his final press conference of the season, Mikel Arteta is asked if Bukayo Saka will be fit for the Euros

I expect Cole Palmer to make the headlines and be included for both the provisional squad and, almost certainly, for the final 26 too. His form for Chelsea, where he has totalled 27 goals and 15 assists, fully warrants the 22-year-old being given the chance to play at his first major tournament.

So, going by Southgate’s previous track record at the last World Cup and the last Euros, it looks likely there is space in the final squad for only two or three players from a list that includes Rashford, Jack Grealish, James Maddison, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze and Anthony Gordon (whose ankle injury, which kept him out of the final Premier League game, will need monitoring). Whichever of those names isn’t on the final squad list will be a real story.

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Rob Dorsett looks at the England players who he believes are guaranteed to be selected by Gareth Southgate for this summer’s Euros

Other key calls

I’d fully expect the England boss to name three strikers in this provisional squad, with captain Harry Kane to be included despite his back injury, and Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney also on the list. Whether both Watkins and Toney are retained for Germany remains to be seen.

The fact that Nick Pope started his first match since December 2 for Newcastle, in their final game of the season against Brentford, means he may well have won the race with Dean Henderson for the third goalkeeper spot, behind Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale.

Jordan Henderson
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Will Jordan Henderson get the call from Gareth Southgate?

In midfield, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Conor Gallagher are definites.

I would expect Jordan Henderson (controversially) and Kobbie Mainoo to be included in this provisional squad, and both may well be kept on for the tournament too. Teenager Mainoo made a big impression on Southgate in his first England starts in March, against tough opposition in Brazil and Belgium. And Henderson’s experience and leadership skills are also much-valued by the manager, even if some pundits think he has had his time, internationally.

Defensive dilemmas

But it is in defence where Southgate has his biggest headache and his toughest decisions to make. The worst injury crisis since he became England manager, has decimated his defensive plans.

Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kieran Trippier are all guaranteed their places – and probably represent Southgate’s first choice back-four for the tournament. But even with those, Trippier isn’t yet fully fit after two months out with a calf injury; Maguire has missed the last month of the season because of a muscle injury and hasn’t helped keep a clean sheet with Manchester United since February 4; Stones has had one Premier League start since mid-March.

Harry Maguire has left the England camp
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Harry Maguire has been struggling with an injury

Southgate has always taken nine or 10 defenders to tournaments, and so he needs at least five more, maybe six, out of the following 10 options: Eric Dier, Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Reece James, Jarrad Branthwaite, Tyrick Mitchell, Lewis Dunk, Joe Gomez, Ezri Konsa and Marc Guehi.

The latter pair – Konsa and Guehi – are very likely to be included in the provisional squad, and will fancy their chances of still being there after the cull, such has been their performances this season for their club, and for England.

Dier is the wildcard. He hasn’t played for England since the quarter-final of the Qatar World Cup in December 2022, but he has been in outstanding form for Bayern Munich, helping them to the Champions League semi-finals, and is very much admired by Southgate, who has repeatedly said the door remains open for Dier.

With so many central defensive injury concerns, Dier’s reliability and experience could give him the edge over the likes of Branthwaite, who Southgate didn’t give an international debut to when he was first called up in March.

Rayan Ait-Nouri is challenged by Tyrick Mitchell
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Could Crystal Palace defender Tyrick Mitchell force his way into the England squad?

The persistent injury problems for Shaw, Chilwell and James means, whilst they may be included in the England long list, they will have to prove their fitness before June 7 in order to be on the plane to Germany. Much will depend on what confidential briefings the England coaching and medical staff have been given from the clubs.

Mitchell’s consistently good form for Crystal Palace, together with all the injury doubts at left back, means he is a contender, despite not playing for his country for more than two years.

England’s Euro 2024 schedule

England will face Denmark, Slovenia and Serbia in their Euro 2024 group next summer.

Southgate’s side face a replay of their Euro 2020 semi-final against the Danes in Group C, having won 2-1 after extra-time in July 2021 before eventually losing to Italy in the final.

England Group

England’s first game on Sunday June 16 sees them travel to Gelsenkirchen to take on Serbia, who finished second in qualifying Group G behind Hungary, and who they have not faced since their split with Montenegro in 2006.

They then take on Denmark four days later in Frankfurt before rounding off their group on Tuesday June 25 in Cologne against Slovenia, who they previously beat in a must-win final group game at World Cup 2010 to reach the knockout stages.

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England manager Gareth Southgate says that his side need to be very careful to not underestimate their opponents at Euro 2024

Here are England’s Euro 2024 fixtures, as well as their potential route through the knockout stages…

Euro 2024 groups in full

  • Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland
  • Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania
  • Group C: Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, England
  • Group D: Poland, Netherlands, Austria, France
  • Group E: Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine
  • Group F:Turkey, Georgia, Portugal, Czech Republic

England’s potential Euro 2024 route

Group stage

The top two in each group plus the four best third-placed teams go through

Sunday June 16 – Group C: Serbia vs England (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen – kick-off 8pm UK time)

Thursday June 20 – Group C: Denmark vs England (Waldstadion, Frankfurt – kick-off 5pm UK time)

Tuesday June 25 – Group C: England vs Slovenia (RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne – kick-off 8pm UK time)

England’s potential route to the final as group winners…

If all results at Euro 2024 go with the world rankings England’s opponents in the knockout rounds would be…

Round of 16: Sunday June 30 – England vs Austria/Romania/Turkey (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen)

Quarter-final: Saturday July 6 – England vs Italy (Merkur Spiel-Arena, Dusseldorf)

Semi-final: Wednesday July 10 – France vs England; kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

Final: Sunday July 14 – Spain vs England; kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

England’s potential route to the final as group runners-up…

If England finish second in Group C but all other results at Euro 2024 go with the world rankings, the Three Lions’ opponents in the knockout rounds would be…

Round of 16: Saturday June 29 – Germany vs England (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

Quarter-final: Friday July 5 – Spain vs England (MHPArena, Stuttgart)

Semi-final: Tuesday July 9 – England vs Netherlands; kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Final: Sunday July 14 – England vs France; kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

Round of 16

England beat Malta on Friday at Wembley - but Gareth Southgate is hoping his players show a better level away to North Macedonia on Monday

If England finish first in Group C…

Sunday June 30 : Group C winners vs third-placed side in Group D/E/F (Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen)

If England finish second in Group C…

Saturday June 29 – Group A winners vs Group C runners-up (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

If England finish as one of four best third-place teams…

One of:

Monday July 1 – Group F winner vs third-placed side from Group A/B/C (Waldstadion, Frankfurt)

Tuesday July 2 – Group E winners vs third-placed side from Group A/B/C/D (Allianz Arena, Munich)

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Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes analyses the Euro 2024 draw and the pressure Gareth Southgate is under ahead of the tournament

Quarter-finals

If England finish first in Group C and win round of 16 game…

Saturday July 6 (Merkur Spiel-Arena, Dusseldorf)

If England finish second in Group C and win round of 16 game…

Friday July 5 (MHPArena, Stuttgart)

If England finish as one of four best third-place teams and win round of 16 game…

One of:

Friday July 5 (Volksparkstadion, Hamburg)

Saturday July 6 (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

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Brentford manager Thomas Frank has admitted that he will be slightly biased towards Denmark in who he supports at Euro 2024 but believes that England are the favourites in the group

Semi-finals

If England finish first in Group C, win round of 16 game and win quarter-final…

Wednesday July 10 – kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

If England finish second in Group C, win round of 16 game and win quarter-final…

Tuesday July 9 – kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

If England finish as one of four best third-place teams, win round of 16 game and win quarter-final…

One of:

Tuesday July 9 – kick-off 8pm (Allianz Arena, Munich)

Wednesday July 10 – kick-off 8pm (Westfalenstadion, Dortmund)

And finally, the final…

Sunday July 14 – kick-off 8pm (Olympiastadion, Berlin)

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