With the Euros fast approaching, most national teams have named their 26 man squad for the competition. Yet Gareth Southgate decided to operate differently naming a provisional 33 man squad and opting to name his final 26 man squad for the European championships on the first of June. Now the nation wonders what seven players Southgate will cut from his squad.
Which Right Back to drop
Remember a time when England’s backup right-back was Jamie Carragher. Well times have changed, right full-back may be the most stacked position the national team obtains. With names like Aaron Wan-Bissaka not even featuring in the provisional 33 man squad.
Currently, Southgate has four right-backs in his team and based on their performances over the season and in that tense Champions League final, Reece James and Kyle Walker should have their places stamped down. This leaves Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold fighting over the last spot. Trippier’s season ended on a high, as he played a big part in helping Atletico Madrid lift La Liga. This will help some forget about the 10-week ban Trippier served for breaching betting rules earlier in the season.
Trent on the other hand had an up and down season, with many questioning his one-on-one defending ability. But Trent like Trippier finished the season on a high, playing a crucial role in Liverpool’s 5 match win streak to secure Champions League football next season.
Ultimately, the decision will come down to what formation Southgate decides to use at the Euros. If he goes with a back five, then the last spot should go to Trent. His attacking ability as a full-back is undisputed. Trent at right wing-back would be a no-brainer for Southgate. Yet, should Southgate prefer a back four Trippier takes priority being a greater balanced full-back?
Two Centre Backs need to go
The England provisional squad currently includes six centre-backs. The norm for International tournament selection is for the squad to contain four conventional centre-backs. Even if Southgate goes with five at the back over a flat back four, there are players such as Reece James, Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw who can and have played in a back three this season. Therefore, Southgate need only select four centre-backs for his Euros squad.
Harry Maguire and John Stones are nailed on to be some of the first names on the team sheet, so their places are confirmed. Tyrone Mings had a strong season at Aston Villa. Being a key figure in that Villa defence, who posted the third-most clean sheets in the Premier League.
Now to some, it is an easy decision to cut Ben Godfrey and Ben White, being the only two uncapped defenders named in Southgate’s provisional 33 man squad. But, I don’t think it is that simple. The last name in consideration is Conor Coady who despite being, a leader, national team experience and the captain of Wolves had a worse season. Coady was at the heart of a Wolves defence who at times looked like a leaky pipe, the goals just kept on being conceded.
This comes down to a question of experience over young talent. Should one go with young talent, who are eager, able and ready? I think Southgate will edge on the side of experience and leadership taking Conor Coady to the Euros and cutting Godfrey and White from the squad.
What three attacking options must be sacrificed
This current England National team has been blessed with young attacking options. To think of England’s most senior forward’s Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford post an average age of 25 and a half years. Whatever attacking lineup Southgate starts at the Euros, there will be direct, exciting and expressive players on the pitch.
The real talking point lies in which striker to cut from the squad. The two names in contention are Mason Greenwood and Ollie Watkins.
Watkins had a great debut season scoring 14 goals in the premier league. Watkins is a different breed of number nine compared to Harry Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Watkins’s work rate and key positioning can offer Southgate an interesting option at the Euros.
Greenwood contributed 10 goals in all competitions this season. What started as a season mered with controversy and struggles on the pitch, turned into a season where Greenwood would become a necessary starter in the Manchester United first team. Greenwood who has been dubbed by many, as a generational talent brings a rawness and freshness to the national team.
This is a difficult decision for the England manager, but one he must make. Due to his ability to find a goal, out of what at times seems to be thin air, I believe Southgate will go with Greenwood and drop Ollie Watkins from the national squad.
The last three names likely to be cut, are Bukayo Saka, James Ward-Prowse and Aaron Ramsdale. These three players simply do not measure up to their advisories, based on a combination of form, ability and experience.