09 Jun What is Gareth Southgate’s strongest England XI?
With Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the European Championships now confirmed, the debate begins over what eleven players make up his best starting team. There are plenty of players battling for inclusion in the team, and so picking the best eleven is difficult, but that won’t stop us from having a go. Have a look at our chosen team, and tell us which players you’d swap in!
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
While Jordan Pickford struggled in the first part of the season, his form for Everton in the latter half of the campaign has been much improved, and it’s a fairly safe assumption that he will wear the number one shirt for England this summer. England have undoubtedly had better goalkeepers in the past, but Pickford is a commanding voice and will never lack for effort.
Right-back: Kyle Walker
The issue of who should play at right-back has been one of the hottest debates in the build-up to the tournament, but we’ve given Kyle Walker the nod, assuming England line out with four at the back. Walker arrives off the back of a title-winning season, and he is a reliable performer, defensively and going forward.
Centre-back: John Stones
It’s been a much-improved season for John Stones, who finally looks assured at the back for Manchester City. Southgate will be hoping that Stones can carry his club form into Euro 2020, and his first task will be to stop the likes of Ivan Perišić and Andrej Kramarić, who will be keen to upset the England v Croatia betting odds when the two teams meet on June 13th.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire
Harry Maguire has also enjoyed a fine campaign, performing consistently well for Manchester United. However, an injury suffered late in the season means that Maguire is not a shoe-in to start for England, and he’ll need to prove his fitness to Southgate if he is to get the nod. If he is fully fit, then it would be hard to leave him out.
Left-back: Luke Shaw
Both Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell have enjoyed good seasons, we’ve given the former the starting berth. Shaw’s speed makes him a valuable asset on the left-hand side, and it’s fair to say that he is a more dynamic option than Chilwell, who is a more traditionally cut left-back. Shaw has never really excelled on the international stage, but he’ll be extra determined this summer to make the position his own.
Centre-midfield: Declan Rice
While some will protest against the inclusion of Declan Rice, the reality is that a holding midfielder is vital if England’s more attacking players are to truly flourish, and Rice is the best option England have to play that role. The 22-year-old has had a stellar season for West Ham United, and rarely dips below a certain level of performance.
Centre-midfield: Jordan Henderson
Having someone like Rice in the team allows Henderson to enjoy something of a free role. We’ve seen for Liverpool how Henderson excels if he is granted more room to manoeuvre in midfield, as opposed to playing the holding role, and England can benefit from that too if Henderson proves he is back to full fitness. His leadership qualities make him a must-have player in England’s starting eleven, in our eyes at least.
Centre-midfield: Mason Mount
There are so many players vying for inclusion in attacking areas for England, but Mason Mount surely has to start against Croatia. The Chelsea man has played a key role for the Blues this season, and set up Kai Havertz’s goal in the Champions League final against Manchester City. On his day, Mount has the ability to change games and provides a valuable combo of flair and high work rate.
Forward: Phil Foden
Pep Guardiola considers Phil Foden the most talented young player he’s ever worked with, and praise doesn’t get much higher than that. The Manchester City player has ascended to another level this season, and he looks ready to take on Europe for England. Foden is capable of moments of magic, and few England players are as adept at carrying the ball.
Forward: Marcus Rashford
There’s plenty of competition to start in attack for England, but we’ve given Rashford the nod. The Manchester United forward can be deployed out wide or through the middle, and that versatility will appeal to Southgate. With experience of two major tournaments already under his belt, Rashford knows what it takes to perform on the big stage.
Forward: Harry Kane
Harry Kane is England’s star man, and make no mistake, the fortunes of the team at this summer’s European Championships may well come down to whether or not the 27-year-old can produce his best form. He’s had another fine season for Tottenham Hotspur, winning the Premier League Golden Boot, and Southgate will be hoping that the rumours over his future at club level won’t affect his performances for England.