Gareth Southgate will be hoping more injuries do not affect too many more England players and disrupt his Euro 2020 plans, with Trent Alexander-Arnold having already been ruled out of the tournament by a thigh problem. Being able to name a larger squad of 26 players instead of the usual 23 names due to fears COVID-19 could ravage Euro 2020 gives the England manager more options to mull over.
Southgate, however, seems likely to rely on many of the same players who have led the Three Lions to World Cup and Nations League semi-finals in recent years. England will be hoping to go at least one step further this time, though, not least as the semi-finals and final are all being played at Wembley, making this close to a home Euros.
If Southgate is to follow in the footsteps of Alf Ramsey, here 5 key England players at Euro 2020 who the nation will be relying on.
5 key England players at Euro 2020
More than half of the side that lost to Croatia at the World Cup could yet start against the same team in England’s opener on June 13. But one of the new names in the XI will surely be Foden.
Having turned 21 in May, the Manchester City playmaker arrives at Euro 2020 on the back of a stellar season in which he scored 18 goals and made 10 more for club and country. Foden ended the campaign keeping Raheem Sterling out of the City side, making their left wing slot his own and he is surely now ahead of Marcus Rashford in the England pecking order too.
Southgate has a reputation for pragmatism but he should give Foden the keys to his side. He is a rare talent for whom the sky is the limit. Foden could win the tournament for England and will certainly be one of the most vital players for the Three Lions at Euro 2020.
Underneath the furore and frenzy surrounding Alexander-Arnold’s possible omission over recent months, what was lost was that it didn’t really matter as Walker is clearly the first choice.
Southgate might have named four right-backs in his initial squad with Kieran Trippier and Reece James also included but, in the eyes of the England manager, Walker is a guaranteed starter.
Foden’s City colleague might line up as part of a back three as well as at right-back during the tournament but one thing is sure, he will be one of the first names on Southgate’s sheet. Walker’s recovery pace will be crucial if England want to try to defend high up the pitch. His experience will help to counter some of the lack of international knowhow elsewhere too.
One of the question marks for England remains in goal with Pickford, Southgate’s regular number one, having endured a serious dip in his form during the 2020-21 season. Pickford did bounce back in the closing stages and, in his defence, the bizarre errors that have blighted his career at club level have not been replicated in England colours – not yet, anyway.
Nick Pope’s own indifferent campaign, followed by the Burnley goalkeeper’s injury, has reduced the competition facing Pickford with Dean Henderson’s lack of experience counting against him.
Pickford’s excellent distribution helps England to build from the back but his mentality can be questioned, with his frantic nature occasionally bringing to mind predecessor Joe Hart. Pickford will definitely start for England and thus his form makes him one of the key players at Euro 2020 if England are to progress.
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is not expected to be ready for the Croatia game, leaving Southgate with a big decision to make over who should partner Declan Rice in midfield. Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips might be a safer option but Southgate should release the handbrake by selecting Bellingham after his breakthrough campaign for Borussia Dortmund.
Bellingham has more gears to his game than any of England’s other central midfield options. He grabs games by the scruff of the neck and would combine brilliantly with fellow prodigy Foden. The 17-year-old’s attitude and ability belies his age. The kid is ready. England must play him.
Bellingham and Foden might be untested at major international tournaments but Southgate has one ace up his sleeve in the form of his reliable captain and is goes without saying that Kane will be one of the key England players at Euro 2020.
Kane won the Golden Boot at the last World Cup three years ago, though plundering a hat-trick against minnows Panama certainly helped him secure that individual honour. He heads to Euro 2020 on the back of a brilliant individual campaign in which he both scored the most goals and recorded the highest number of assists in the Premier League.
With Spurs finishing seventh in the final table and missing out on Europe despite Kane’s personal exploits, it has left the England captain publicly asserting his desire to move on. The only small doubt is over the state of his ankles. If fit, Kane will guarantee goals for England and he represents the Three Lions’ best hope of ending their 55-year wait for silverware.
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