As the Coronavirus sweeps the globe, sporting events are being widely cancelled and Euro 2020 is no exception. UEFA have no confirmed that the tournament will be pushed back a year, meaning it becomes Euro 2021. England’s starting XI in a year’s time could look quite different from how it would have this summer. Here are five young English players who could benefit from postponing Euro 2020.
It seems a foregone conclusion that the on loan Sheffield United goalkeeper will be given his chance by Gareth Southgate at some point.
After a season in which Jordan Pickford and David de Gea have made a series of high profile errors, fans of Manchester United and England have both made the case for the 23-year-old to become number one for parent club and country.
Traditionally, England managers have stood by goalkeepers more than any other position. Indeed, former number ones Joe Hart, Paul Robinson and David James have all overcome poor bouts of club form to retain the England jersey despite public opinion turning against them. Pickford hasn’t actually done anything wrong for England yet as well.
Were Euro 2020 to have gone ahead there is no doubt that Pickford would have retained his place between the sticks ahead of the yet uncapped Henderson. But with their respective trajectories so contrasting, an extra year through postponing Euro 2020 could be enough for Henderson to dislodge the Everton stopper.
In England’s last ten matches, Michael Keane, John Stones, Tyrone Mings and Joe Gomez have each featured at least once in the heart of defence. The only consistency for England in central defence throughout these games has been Harry Maguire. Perhaps you’d expect the most expensive defender in the history of football to be England’s first choice. However his long term partner is still up in the air.
Michael Keane’s chance may have gone after a nightmare performance against the Czech Republic last year. John Stones form and fitness have been concerning for a long time and he is clearly no longer fully trusted even by his club manager. Tyrone Mings has performed well for England but will he be tainted by Aston Villa’s possible relegation?
It would seem that Liverpool’s Joe Gomez is currently the most likely candidate to partner Maguire, whether it had taken place this year or in the event of postponing Euro 2020. However, this season a potential threat has emerged in the shape of Tottenham’s Japhet Tanganga. The 20-year-old has been one of the few bright sparks in a dire Tottenham season and it’s clear that Jose Mourinho, who knows a defender when he sees one, rates him extremely highly.
With Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld seemingly in decline, Tanganga has an opportunity to establish himself as the heart of Tottenham’s defence in the next 15 months. If his form continues, that same opportunity may yet arrive for England.
Since making his debut for Manchester United, Mason Greenwood has scored 13 goals in 37 appearances for the Red Devils. You may think that a scoring rate marginally better than 1 in 3 isn’t all that impressive but that fails to account for the number of substitute appearances he has made.
In fact, Greenwood has only played 1,745 minutes as a professional, the equivalent of just over 19 full matches. 13 goals and 4 assists, or 17 goal contributions, in 19 matches, is a world class. The most impressive statistic of all? Greenwood only turned 18 in October.
As the hyperbole and unfair pressure begins to mount on Greenwood, so do the absurd comparisons. He has already been likened to Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney who each took the world by storm as youngsters. However, if Greenwood continues to score at such a rate, these comparisons will be difficult to mute.
England captain Harry Kane is still only 26 and, if his body holds up, he will likely remain England’s starting striker for at least the next 3 international tournaments. However, his fitness is an enduring concern which means back ups will need to be considered.
Marcus Rashford has proved this season that he works best as wide forward, rather than leading the line, and question marks remain over Tammy Abraham who dipped after a phenomenal start to the season. If Greenwood’s progress continues at the same rate, expect him to be a squad player at the very minimum for England at Euro 2021 now that postponing Euro 2020 is confirmed.
Just like his club, Burnley, Dwight McNeil is going under the radar this season. With all the talk surrounding Sheffield United’s exploits, nobody has really noticed Burnley creep into the top half of the table. They are now only six points behind Manchester United and Champions League qualification. Central to that has been 20-year-old left winger Dwight McNeil.
So far this season, McNeil has completed 2.1 dribbles per game, 1.5 key passes per game and 1.8 completed crosses per game. He also ranks in the top five in the league for xG chances created which means that, with better strikers in front of him, he could have significantly more than the five assists he has managed so far.
With the likes of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, James Maddison and Jack Grealish all competing for England’s attacking midfield / wide forward positions, Dwight McNeil has a big fight on his hands to establish himself in one of England best stocked areas. However, if he continues improving and putting up the numbers that he has managed so far, he should definitely earn a chance in the next year to prove himself for the three lions. Posponing Euro 2020 might give him the time he needs.
Phil Foden’s eventual deputization as the leading creative midfielder for Manchester City and England feels as though it has been coming for a lifetime. Yet the Stockport native is still only 19 and clearly has time fully on his side.
With David Silva set to depart Manchester City this summer, Foden has long been earmarked as his replacement and Pep Guardiola has noticely begun to integrate him more in recent months. Foden started in City’s League Cup final win and he has already equalled last season’s Premier League appearance tally.
You would expect Foden to begin next season in the heart of City’s midfield and that should quickly be followed with Gareth Southgate following suit. While England have plenty of defensive and wide midfield options, they are currently missing an intelligent playmaker and it seems as though Foden could be set to fill that role for a decade to come.
With a big season ahead of him, Foden could be prime for an international tournament next summer now that UEFA has ended up postponing Euro 2020. Let’s just hope he fares better than the last midfielder who was meant to fill that role, Jack Wilshere.