Thursday, June 13, 2024

Euro 2024: Sky Sports’ writers pick their 26-player England squad for Germany

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Euro 2024 is just around the corner, which means Gareth Southgate is getting ready to announce his England squad for the tournament in Germany.

Southgate is expected to name a provisional squad on Tuesday, consisting of 30+ players before officially naming his 26-man squad for the tournament before UEFA’s deadline of June 7.

Our writers delivered their picks in March, but UEFA has now expanded the squad size to 26 which changes things. Southgate has three more spaces to play with, but who will this benefit?

Here, we take a look at how the squads have changed over the last few months and the players we expect to gain from this expansion. From shock omissions to surprise inclusions, there is a broad church of opinion.

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Have a look at our writers picked…

Peter Smith: England’s strength lies in attacking depth

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

The expanded squad allows for even more options in attack, with Jarrod Bowen and Anthony Gordon rewarded for impressive seasons. This is where England’s strength lies and where they can make the difference in Germany.

Their weakness comes out of possession. Jordan Henderson doesn’t make the cut but Jarrad Branthwaite bolsters the options at the back, with defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and John Stones likely to have to step into midfield at times.

Nick Wright: Outstanding Eze not just along for the ride

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:

Eberechi Eze is an outstanding talent who has plenty to offer this team. His ball-carrying ability would provide something different in midfield and his all-round quality ensures he would not just be going along for the ride.

I put Joe Gomez just ahead of Jarrad Branthwaite because of his ability to fill in as either a right-back or a left-back but the squad expansion opens the door to both. This could provide valuable tournament experience for Branthwaite, who is likely to feature prominently for England in the not-too-distant future.

I think Ollie Watkins has the edge on Ivan Toney, whose late-season drop-off is a bit of a worry, but there is now scope to take both. Toney’s penalty-taking ability would be invaluable in a shootout and he could be an extremely useful substitute too.

Joe Shread: James a no-brainer, with Lewis as back-up

Sky Sports’ Joe Shread:

Reece James would have been a shoo-in were it not for another injury-plagued season. However, with James fit again and England having three extra squad places, adding the Chelsea captain is a no-brainer.

Rico Lewis is also included as full-back cover, given the injury histories of many of those already on the plane. Jack Grealish claims the final spot after regaining form and fitness during Manchester City’s run-in.

Oliver Yew: Trippier misses out after difficult season

Sky Sports’ Oliver Yew:

Ivan Toney provides a physical alternative to Harry Kane and his ability from the penalty spot helps, while Ollie Watkins’ form this season is also rewarded.

The direct style of Anthony Gordon provides a different option from the bench, but Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford both miss out after difficult seasons.

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Key Southgate lieutenants Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips miss out with question marks surrounding their form.

At the back, Kieran Trippier also misses out after a difficult season with Newcastle, while Reece James’ return to fitness and the extra room in the squad see him included. Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw – fitness-depending – get the nod at left-back.

Zinny Boswell: Henderson playing the Coady role

Sky Sports’ Zinny Boswell:

Ollie Watkins is behind Ivan Toney in my thinking purely because of penalties, but the squad extension is enough to get him on the plane. If the worst were to happen and Harry Kane picked up an injury, Watkins would be the man I’d call on until a shoot-out.

Jordan Henderson is playing the Conor Coady role in my squad. The Ajax midfielder makes it in on experience after a season to forget in club football. He wouldn’t expect to get many minutes in my squad.

Rico Lewis is drafted in as emergency cover for what can only be described as a dodgy left-back department. Luke Shaw is in the squad in the hope he can recover, while Kieran Trippier’s form is worrying. This could be a problem area.

Richard Morgan: Get Wharton on the plane

Sky Sports’ Richard Morgan:

Reece James’s cameos for Chelsea at the end of the season are enough to persuade me he is worth a late call-up to this expanded squad, as is Adam Wharton, 20, who has shone in the heart of Crystal Palace’s midfield since joining the club in January, playing a pivotal role in their surprise surge up the table.

And with 20 goals and 10 assists to his name in all competitions so far this season, Jarrod Bowen has forced his way into this expanded squad as a backup No 9 to Kane alongside Watkins.

Eric Dier narrowly missed out after the central defender’s recent resurgence at Bayern Munich, as did promising young Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite, while Dean Henderson came under serious consideration to be one of Pickford’s understudies, but despite hardly featuring for Arsenal this season, Ramsdale retains his spot.

Ben Grounds: Take 25 players, Southgate

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

Southgate is all about creating a tight-knit group and will not have been in favour of a 26-man squad. I’m not convinced he will even take up the option of the new maximum allowance.

But Jarrod Bowen and Anthony Gordon are game-changers who can now be included. Both have been in superior form to Marcus Rashford, whose tournament experience still justifies his selection. Southgate can afford to see the trio up close and personal.

If Southgate does select a 26th man, it should be Dominic Solanke over Toney.

Ron Walker: Loftus-Cheek deserves a shot

Sky Sports’ Ron Walker:

Injuries and Southgate’s loyalty to his squad make finding a great deal of added depth more than a challenge than it could be. Conor Gallagher has hit form at the right time in the rejuvenated Chelsea midfield, while Rico Lewis offers extra cover on both flanks at full-back.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, though operating overseas – which never bodes well under Southgate – is flourishing at AC Milan and has scored nine times since the turn of the year. England are not exactly blessed with top-class No 8s beyond Jude Bellingham, so both he and Gallagher are worth a shot.

Dan Sansom: Gallagher benefits from squad expansion

Sky Sports’ Dan Sansom:

With Ben White unavailable for selection, Levi Colwill is included after impressing for Chelsea. The 21-year-old would add strength in depth should either first-choice centre-backs John Stones or Harry Maguire suffer injuries, while he can also slot in at left-back. Conor Gallagher just missed out on my 23-player squad so goes straight in and Jarrod Bowen also earns a spot for his brilliant form for West Ham.

Sam Blitz: Boost left-back area with Mitchell

Sky Sports’ Sam Blitz:

England’s left-back woe is a worry with Luke Shaw’s fitness a concern – so Gareth Southgate should use the three extra places to boost his options in that position. Tyrick Mitchell is in great form and Southgate has used him before, while Joe Gomez’s inclusion also provides more cover at centre-half, so Jarrad Branthwaite isn’t needed.

The other player to benefit from the 26-player squad is Ollie Watkins, who wasn’t in my original squad due to Ivan Toney’s impressive March international break, but his goals cannot be ignored.

Marcus Rashford and James Maddison were both in my England 23-player squad in March but their form since then has deteriorated, so the impressive Eberechi Eze and Jordan Henderson – who provides dressing-room experience – come in.

Lewis Jones: Take Branthwaite with future in mind

Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones:

Jarrad Branthwaite will be playing for a team challenging for the Premier League title soon enough so he can gain valuable experience being part of this squad whilst also pushing John Stones, Harry Maguire and maybe Lewis Dunk for a starting berth. Eberechi Eze’s form is simply impossible to ignore and Ivan Toney gets my vote due to his penalty-taking expertise.

Charlotte Marsh: Left-back a concern for England

Sky Sports’ Charlotte Marsh:

Jack Butland has played 56 times for Rangers this season, far more than Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale – but Southgate has a tendency to pick players he knows, rather than those who play regularly.

With his form this season, Jarrard Branthwaite deserves his spot, while Marc Guehi – who impressed in previous England games – is making a timely return from injury. Left-back remains a concern though.

Eberechi Eze can spin a game in a moment and will be an important impact sub, while Cole Palmer has to start for me. Adding Ivan Toney and Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon too will give Southgate more options in those tight tournament moments.

England’s fixtures before Euro 2024

Monday June 3: England vs Bosnia and Herzegovina – kick-off 7.45pm

Friday June 7: England vs Iceland – kick-off 7.45pm

England’s Euro 2024 fixtures

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)

Euro 2024 key dates

June 14, 2024: Euro 2024 opening game, Allianz Arena (Munich)
June 30 – July 2: Round of 16
July 5-6: Quarter-finals
July 9-10, 2024: Semi-finals
July 14, 2024: Euro 2024 final, Olympiastadion (Berlin)

(c) Sky Sports 2024: Euro 2024: Sky Sports’ writers pick their 26-player England squad for Germany

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