Gareth Southgate has announced his provisional England squad for Euro 2020, with Trent Alexander-Arnold handed a reprieve and a last-ditch chance to make the team for the tournament.
The enterprising Liverpool full-back was left out of the last England squad and it has been mooted that, despite his resurgent form at Anfield in recent weeks, he would still be absent for Southgate’s Euros setup.
Instead, the Three Lions boss has opted for a squad of 33 for now, while players compete in European finals for Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Friday 11 June
Saturday 12 June
Sunday 13 June
England boss Gareth Southgate has named a provisional squad for Euro 2020 this summer
There is a place for Trent Alexander-Arnold amid growing scrutiny over his position
JUNE 2: Austria, Riverside stadium (friendly)
JUNE 6: Romania, Riverside stadium (friendly)
JUNE 13: England v Croatia, Wembley
JUNE 18: England v Scotland, Wembley
JUNE 22: Czech Republic v England, Wembley
He will have to cut it down by seven players to 26 by June 1 and the odds are still against Alexander-Arnold being included.
Southgate has four right-backs in his team of 33 with Alexander Arnold, Kieran Tripper, Kyle Walker and Reece James all involved.
‘You’re looking at four right backs, I am looking at four good footballers,’ Southgate said. ‘Trent can play right-back, wing-back and I think he can play in midfield. In the last few days James has played on the right of a back three.
‘We go into a tournament and those footballers are going to be important to us. We have too many question marks as I st here today but that will become far clearer, we know what we’d like to do and we have good contingencies in place.’
Elsewhere, there is a gluttony of thrilling attacking options at Southgate’s disposal as he plots a route to what would be England’s first international triumph since the 1966 World Cup.
Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden would have perhaps at best been on the fringes of the England fold 12 months ago but they have benefitted after the Covid-19 pandemic forced a 12-month delay to the European Championship.
The trio will now all be vying for a starting berth under Southgate when the tournament for England begins on June 13 against Croatia at Wembley.
Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho would have seemed nailed on starters last summer but now face intensifying competition to begin that match next month.
Liverpool and Manchester United’s captains Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire make the squad but questions remain about the overall fitness of two of Southgate’s key men.
Henderson was an unused substitute in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday and the signs there are more promising than with Maguire, who is expected to miss United’s Europa League final against Villarreal on Wednesday.
Henderson hasn’t played since February, where he went off injured in the Merseyside derby against Everton with a groin injury, but is one of Southgate’s more experienced players with 58 caps to his name and the England boss is bullish over his chances of being fit for the tournament.
‘We actually think Jordan, the level of work he has been able to achieve is very high,’ Southgate said. ‘We haven’t been able to see him on the pitch in a match situation but he is firmly on track to be involved in those games (the friendlies). In some regards he may be ahead of others.’
Jack Grealish makes the squad after an impressive start to life on the international scene
Jordan Henderson was an unused sub for Liverpool on Sunday and should be fit for the Euros
There is concern over Harry Maguire, however, who is battling to overcome an ankle injury
ENGLAND’S 33-MAN SQUAD
Jordan Pickford, Everton: 30 caps
Dean Henderson, Manchester United – 1 cap
Sam Johnstone, West Brom – uncapped
Aaron Ramsdale, Sheffield United – uncapped
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool – 12 caps, 1 goal
Reece James, Chelsea – 6 caps
Harry Maguire, Manchester United – 32 caps, 3 goals
Conor Coady, Wolves – 4 caps, 1 goal
John Stones, Manchester City – 42 caps, 2 goals
Luke Shaw, Manchester United – 9 caps
Kyle Walker, Manchester City – 55 caps
Ben Chilwell, Chelsea – 14 caps
Kieran Trippier, Atletico Madrid – 26 caps, 1 goal
Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa – 8 caps
Ben White, Brighton – uncapped
Ben Godfrey, Everton – uncapped
Jordan Henderson, Liverpool – 58 caps
Declan Rice, West Ham – 15 caps, 1 goal
Mason Mount, Chelsea – 16 caps, 4 goals
Jack Grealish, Aston Villa – 5 caps
Phil Foden, Manchester City – 6 caps, 2 goal
Jesse Lingard, Manchester United – 27 caps, 4 goals
Jude Bellingham, Borussia Dortmund – 2 caps
Kalvin Phillips, Leeds United – 7 caps
James Ward-Prowse, Southampton – 6 caps, 1 goal
Harry Kane, Tottenham – 53 caps, 34 goals
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton – 7 caps, 4 goals
Raheem Sterling, Manchester City – 61 caps, 14 goals
Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund – 18 caps, 3 goals
Marcus Rashford, Manchester United – 40 caps, 11 goals
Ollie Watkins, Aston Villa – 1 cap, 1 goal
Bukayo Saka, Arsenal – 4 caps
Mason Greenwood, Manchester United – 1 cap
Southgate implied he is still in the dark over Maguire’s fitness due to United’s involvement in the Europa League final against Villarreal.
‘Understandably from a club perspective, they have got a huge final tomorrow and it hasn’t been so easy for us to get information,’ Southgate said. ‘I totally understand that. We will know more in the next couple of days and that is another reason why (a provisional squad was named) – that lack of information.’
Uncapped Brighton defender Ben White, meanwhile, is a surprise call-up but has impressed for the Seagulls this season and is comfortable in a three-man defence.
Everton’s Ben Godfrey has also been included – Southgate is without a host of key defenders during the opening phase of his training camp due to involvement in this week’s European finals, opening the door to White and Godfrey.
Eric Dier is a surprise omission as Southgate has picked him regularly before, while there is no place for Everton’s Michael Keane.
‘He is a man who I have tremendous respect for and a key player in some of our biggest nights and biggest moments,’ Southgate said. ‘Unfortunately I just don’t think his season has been strong enough to be in the squad and that is a difficult call because I know how much he brings to the group.’
Southgate will be hoping that Dean Henderson, Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and even potentially Maguire come through unscathed when in action for United against Villarreal on Wednesday in the Europa League final.
On Saturday night there is the all-English Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City. Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount will be the English contingent in action for Chelsea that night, while John Stones, Kyle Walker, Foden and Sterling could all feature for City.
In total, up to 12 players who still have club games to complete before focus switches permanently onto the international scene are included, so there is plenty of scope for injuries to puncture Southgate’s preparations.
England’s preparations ramp up with two friendlies at Middlesbrough’s Riverside stadium in early June as Southgate looks to get his side up to speed before the tournament begins properly.
They take on Austria on June 2 and four days later lock horns with Romania. The squad will meet up on Saturday and begin to prepare for those games.
Jordan Pickford is expected to retain his place as England’s No 1 goalkeeper – he has been a trusted figure by Southgate in his England setup but his form has wavered since the 2018 World Cup, where England reached the semi-finals.
Southgate’s defensive setup will be intriguing. He has often preferred three at the back, deploying City’s Walker as a right-sided centre back. But with Maguire’s fitness at present up in the air and the overall omission of Joe Gomez, crocked with a knee injury, he has fewer key figures at his disposal.
Stones will be central to Southgate’s setup after a superb season with Manchester City that could get better still with Champions League glory. Shaw, meanwhile, has had his finest season yet as left-back for United and looks set to start the tournament there for England.
The fascinating conundrum Southgate has moving forward is how, if at all, he can incorporate the flair of Grealish, Mount and Foden around fellow attackers who have served him so valiantly before in the likes of Rashford and Sterling. A word too for Jude Bellingham, the 17-year-old wonderkid at Borussia Dortmund who is in the squad.
He only has two caps to his name to date but is a gifted midfielder who has been an ever-present alongside the likes of Sancho and Erling Haaland at Dortmund this season.
Like the players he is battling against to get into the England starting line-up, he has the ability to light up the tournament if he gets enough minutes. Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka is also included in the ranks.
The likes of Henderson and Declan Rice will offer insurance around those attacking talents but striking the right balance around those attacking midfielders is key to the entire team. Get it right, and Southgate will have a starting line-up that can back itself against anyone else in the competition.
Mason Mount is one of a number of thrilling attacking options at England’s disposal
Southgate must work out how to use talents such as Mount, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling
Jude Bellingham, the 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund star, is another prospect to consider
Striker and captain Harry Kane is the first name on Southgate’s team-sheet and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a solid understudy after an impressive season at Everton with 21 goals for the Toffees in 2020-21 campaign.
Southgate dismissed concerns that scrutiny over Kane’s Tottenham future could prove a distraction during the tournament and revealed he will not allow players to conclude medicals for transfers during a tournament.
‘I don’t need to have a conversation with Harry Kane about focus or professionalism,’ Southgate said. ‘He has one goal and that’s to win a European Championship with England. That’s what is important to him right now.
‘What’s happening with his club football is a matter for him and Tottenhan. He’s made some statements over the past couple of days but that’s out of the way now.
‘It is very unlikely transfer deals will be done while we are away. I am very realistic about those things, I’m not going to stop phones ringing, I can’t control conversations but I would expect anything across the board with our players to be after the tournament.’
Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins is also included but there is no room for Southampton striker Danny Ings or Patrick Bamford at Leeds.
Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood, meanwhile, is named in an England squad for the first time since he was axed from the setup for his involvement alongside Foden in breaching Covid-19 rules in Iceland last September.
‘In terms of the past that is absolutely the past,’ Southgate said. ‘I spoke with Mason before the U21s (where Greenwood was called up earlier this year) to make that absolutely clear.
‘I hope his inclusion shows we are happy to select him, young people make mistakes and we move on from it. He is an absolutely outstanding player, a great finisher.’
Southgate revealed that Newcastle coach Grame Jones will step in after Allan Russell (pictured in England training alongside Marcus Rashford) was sacked
Jones (back left) worked with Belgium at the 2018 World Cup in Russia as they made the semis
Southgate also revealed that Newcastle coach Graeme Jones has been added into his coaching setup after striker coach Allan Russell was sacked.
Russell was relieved of his consultancy role after admitting to allowing his brother to drive his car while uninsured last year. Russell was involved in a traffic accident while he was a passenger in his own car. It was being driven by his brother, who subsequently admitted to drink driving.
‘I’m disappointed for Allan and for us,’ Southgate said. ‘We are bringing Graeme Jones in who has been working for Newcastle at the moment. I’ve known Graeme a while, great tournament experience with Belgium and I’m really pleased that with him, Chris Powell, Steve Holland and Martyn Margetson that we’ve got a really good coaching team.’