England have announced that manager Gareth Southgate has signed a two-year extension to his contract, taking him through to after Euro 2024.
It had been long expected that a deal would be reached between the parties to extend his tenure as the boss, after first taking charge of the national team back in 2016.
But now after confirming England’s place in the World Cup for 2022 in Qatar, the deal has been confirmed which will see Southgate complete eight years in charge should he finish out the deal.
But while Southgate’s performance as manager has undoubtedly been successful thus far, have they jumped the gun by extending his contract before a major tournament takes place?
England have enjoyed two brilliant tournaments so far under Southgate, reaching the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 before making it all the way to the final of the delayed Euro 2020 earlier this year, losing to Italy on penalties at Wembley.
But despite the good tournaments, performances for the most part have been far from ideal from Southgate’s side.
The manager has constantly been critiqued for his defensive outlook on games despite the abundance of attacking talent he has at his disposal. Regularly fielding a three-at-the-back formation with two defensive midfielders too, it feels like there is a lot of potential waiting to be unlocked by a better coach.
Against the lesser nations, England have no problems whatsoever. They score plenty of goals, create plenty of chances and regularly win the games they’re supposed to win by a decent margin.
But against the top sides, we’ve seen them struggle on several occasions. When it comes to keeping the ball secure against sides full of quality, who know how to press and defend well they often get overrun and that is a coaching issue.
Southgate also has his favourites in the squad, with some getting call-ups regardless of form at club level while others struggle to get a call-up at all irrespective of what they’re doing for their club side.
While you could absolutely make a case for Southgate to get a new contract, giving him a new deal right before a major tournament seems weird.
What happens if England crash out at the group stages? What if England fail to score a single goal? What if England completely under-perform from their pre-tournament expectations?
While the intentions are pure and from a good place, it just seems rushed. Southgate is very happy in the job and has intention of going anywhere else right now, and nobody else wants him currently.
England should probably have waited until the end of the tournament next year before extending, especially since Southgate himself had said he was in no rush.
But the announcement of the deal now means the pressure will be on in Qatar, if it wasn’t already.
England sealed their spot in the Qatar 2022 World Cup with a thumping 10-0 win over San Marino on Monday night, led by captain Harry Kane’s four-goal haul.
Harry Maguire got his second goal of the international break to become England’s highest scoring centre-back ever, before Kane scored two penalties and two open play goals either side of a San Marino own-goal in the first-half.
Conor Gallagher became the 50th debutant under Gareth Southgate as a half-time substitute before goals from Emile Smith Rowe, Tyrone Mings, Tammy Abraham and Bukayo Saka wrapped up a dominant display.
It’s not a result that was ever in doubt, with San Marino earning just one win in 187 previous games and they’ve now conceded 30 goals since they last scored one.
Kane’s four-goal haul moved him level with Gary Lineker on 48 England goals, seven games quicker than the legendary striker managed it in. It means he is now just five goals behind Wayne Rooney’s all-time record, and six away from breaking it.
He also broke the record for the most goals in a calendar year for England, moving to 16 for 2021 with his strikes.
But aside from the record, the game simply stood just to give some other players extra minutes to impress Southgate ahead of the tournament next winter.
There are only three more squad meet-ups between now and the tournament starting next December, so Southgate will have limited time to see new faces performing within his setup.
The likes of Smith Rowe, Gallagher, Abraham and Bellingham all did themselves no harm with their performances, but their places are far from guaranteed with the likes of Mason Greenwood and Callum Hudson-Odoi also in the picture for future call-ups.
For Southgate, the plan now is to build his squad in his head for the World Cup and try to keep an eye on those players’ form while also coming up with how he wants to play during the winter tournament and start to implement those plans.
England have made it official nice and early, unlike Portugal and Italy who will be part of the playoffs to make it so some plaudits are deserved.
Now they need to make sure they’re not just there to make up the numbers, and that starts as soon as possible.
England travel to San Marino on Monday night in need of just one point to confirm their place as group winners and therefore seal qualification for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
A 5-0 win over Albania on Friday all but secured their place in next winter’s tournament, with Harry Kane grabbing a hat-trick to go with Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson’s goals in the first half for a dominant win.
But for Monday’s game Gareth Southgate will be forced to make changes. Luke Shaw and Mason Mount have been ruled out with injuries, while Jordan Henderson, Jack Grealish and Raheem Sterling have all been released from duty early.
Crystal Palace midfielder Conor Gallagher has been called up from the Under-21’s as extra cover, but will he go straight into the starting lineup for the game? Here is the team I think should start.
Jordan Pickford is still the number one for England and Southgate, but with Ramsdale’s current form he deserves a start in a game like this where he’s unlikely to be tested much, if at all.
Trent Alexander Arnold
The Liverpool man has been in excellent form for his club side this season but he was a substitute in the game against Albania on Friday where both Reece James and Kyle Walker started. He’ll get the nod and likely chip in with a goal contribution too.
Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings
Southgate has tended to rotate his centre-backs for these games against the more lowly opposition and it doesn’t get more lowly than San Marino, so expect both Coady and Mings to get the nod in this one.
England’s only fit left-back in the squad following Shaw’s withdrawal with concussion, Chilwell is sure to start once again. His good performances in attack will surely lead to chances
Bellingham has been a regular starter for Dortmund and despite only being 18 is one of the most talented footballers in the entire squad. Great in possession, physically imposing and technically astute he’ll have an absolute field day in this game and should start.
Southgate seems likely to stick with Phillips for this game following the withdrawals of James Ward-Prowse, Henderson and Declan Rice since the announcement of the squad. With Gallagher getting a late call up, he’ll likely start on the bench meaning Phillips starts again.
Saka has shone in an England shirt for the most part of his international career, so selection here will likely see him continue that. With Sterling leaving the squad early, Saka should get the nod and will probably get a goal or assist (or both) in a big win.
Emile Smith Rowe
The first time call-up, Smith Rowe made his debut as a substitute against Albania and should now get a start with Jack Grealish unavailable for the game after returning to Man City. His ability to dribble in tight spaces will help create chances, and in his current form he could well get his first goal for England.
The key to the future for England, Foden is essential in any success the team will have and he’ll start here and be the main man when it comes to creating chances.
The likelihood is Tammy Abraham will start this game, but captain Kane should be given the chance to add to his tally for the year. Kane has 12 goals for England in 2021 and broke Wayne Rooney’s record of 37 competitive goals against Albania. He’s only ten goals away from overtaking him on the overall table as England’s highest goalscorer ever, and he can make up some ground in this game even if only given 60 minutes or so.
England are back in World Cup qualifying action against Albania on Friday night at Wembley, where a win will confirm their place in Qatar next year.
Gareth Southgate’s side currently sit top of their group with two games remaining, three points ahead of Poland and five ahead of Albania.
Only group winners are guaranteed a place in Qatar 2022, while runners-up will have to go through a play-off to make it. It makes bouncing back from last month’s draw with Hungary all the more important. But who should start the game? This is our England lineup.
GK: Jordan Pickford
England’s number one has been under pressure recently because of the form of Aaron Ramsdale at Arsenal, but he’s been performing worse than this and kept his place so I’d expect him to get the nod once again.
RB: Reece James
No Chelsea player has been involved in more goals directly than James this season and he has proven his worth in both directions with some excellent defensive displays too. He has stiff competition with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker, but his performances deserve a start.
CB: John Stones
Stones has been a mainstay for Southgate whenever fit and despite having some fitness issues this season again, when he has played he’s been excellent. He’s claimed his City starting place back too, so should continue for England.
CB: Harry Maguire
Maguire arguably shouldn’t even be in the squad this time around if we’re going based on form, but the fact he is means he’ll start. His competition for places is Tyrone Mings who recently lost his place at Villa and Conor Coady who has never really impressed, so it’s a no-brainer really.
LB: Ben Chilwell
Chilwell lost his place as England’s first-choice left-back last year after Luke Shaw’s resurgence, but this season they’ve reverted to type and Chilwell has been flying. He’s been great going forward and defensively solid, so he deserves the starting spot.
DM: Declan Rice
England’s most in-form central midfielder this season, Rice has become indispensable to West Ham and the national team. His ability to win the ball back is unmatched in the squad, he has become a leader and is constantly improving on the ball so he should start here.
CM: Phil Foden
Southgate has previously featured Foden out wide mostly, but this special footballer should be playing centrally. A magician on the ball with great ball manipulation, a killer pass and an eye for goal, get him in the heart of the game to effect games and watch him shine.
CM: Jude Bellingham
Another superstar youngster, Bellingham has firmly established himself as one of the best young midfielders in the game. A regular starter with Dortmund, Bellingham’s skillset is so diverse that he can play any midfield role with ease and would offer the perfect balance alongside Rice and Foden.
RW: Raheem Sterling
Sterling’s season hasn’t gone to plan after Euro 2020, but his spot with England is pretty much guaranteed. He ended a goal drought for City recently and as a key part of Southgate’s England team, he will start on the right wing.
ST: Harry Kane
Another Harry who can count himself lucky that the England squad isn’t simply decided based on form, because if it was the captain would certainly not be involved. But since he is, and he’s the skipper and his record for England is so good, he’ll start and probably score to help them qualify.
LW: Jack Grealish
Grealish’s move to man City has certainly helped establish him as an England regular, but Marcus Rashford’s injury issues have helped him become a starter too. Rashford has withdrawn from the squad, leaving Grealish as the best and most senior option to play from the left so that’s what he’ll do.
It’s been a while since England had a bunch of successful talents in their squad that were playing abroad at the same time.
It’s possible that it’s never even been a thing in all honesty but the current squad is full of players who have made a name for themselves outside of the Premier League’s four walls.
Kieran Trippier, Fikayo Tomori, Jadon Sancho and Tammy Abraham are all involved in the England squad for upcoming internationals against Andorra and Hungary.
Each of the four have spent time outside of the Premier League refining their game and becoming key members of squads in Europe, although Sancho has obviously since returned to England with Manchester United this summer.
It used to be the case that players that were plying their trade abroad were overlooked, with even David Beckham struggling for selection once he left Real Madrid for the MLS and Owen Hargreaves taking far longer than it should have to get a call up when he was at Bayern Munich.
But with a plethora of young talent moving to the Bundesliga in order to secure themselves regular first-team football, manager Gareth Southgate has seemingly welcomed it with open arms.
Jude Bellingham has been a regular in the squad recently despite being only 18, because he has been a key part of Borussia Dortmund’s midfield in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.
Tomori has shone for AC Milan since joining the club on loan from Chelsea in January last year, and was unlucky not to get a call-up to the Euro 2020 squad with his form.
Trippier has almost solidified his place in the team since joining Atletico Madrid, even becoming a left-back option such is Southgate’s insistence on involving him.
Sancho is in the squad because of the talent he has shown during his time in the Bundesliga after a slow start to life in England, with the boss even admitting that he probably doesn’t deserve the call-up on current form.
Abraham initially missed out on the call, but Southgate added him in later after his excellent start to life in Rome with Jose Mourinho and AS Roma where he has scored four goals and registered two assists in nine appearances so far.
It’s a positive sign from the gaffer and from the international setup now that young players shouldn’t be afraid to go abroad and get game time. In the past they may have been forgotten or overlooked, but not anymore.
If you’re good enough and stand-out enough, you’ll get your recognition at international level.
The European Championships have reached the business end of the competition as the quarter-finals loom large.
Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark and Czech Republic will do battle for their spot in the top four, while England will also be part of the run-in when they take on Ukraine on Saturday night.
In a big clash in Rome, Gareth Southgate’s side will go head-to-head with Andriy Shevchenko’s underdogs as they look to set up a clash against the winners of the Denmark vs Czech tie in the final four at Wembley
Route to the final:
Ukraine were the plucky underdogs in their group but they were able to come through as one of the best third-placed teams in the competition.
An opening game defeat to the Oranje saw an entertaining 3-2 game go against them, but they bounced back with a comfortable win over North Macedonia before losing again to Austria. They made it through to the last eight thanks to a 120th minute winner against Sweden in a 2-1 victory.
England on the other hand are unbeaten and the only team in the tournament yet to concede a goal. They got a win against Croatia in the opening game, before a 0-0 draw against Scotland. They then topped the group with a win over the Czech Republic, before a fantastic performance saw them despatch of Germany 2-0, with Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane getting their third and first goals of the tournament respectively.
Ukraine will be hopeful that their captain and star man Andriy Yarmolenko is fit to play after he limped off with an injury in the round of 16 tie. Denys Popov and Artem Besedin are ruled out while Oleksandr Zubov is a doubt.
England have a fully fit squad to choose from but must be careful as Harry Maguire, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden a yellow card away from missing the semi-final. Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell are available to start after their isolation period ended on the day of the Germany game.
Andriy Shevchenko has made his team incredibly difficult to beat despite them losing half their games in the tournament so far. They defend well, counter attack even better and have a fantastic spirit and level of togetherness in the squad.
With that said, England have been excellent despite not being spectacular. Defensively they’ve barely been tested and while they’ve not exactly created a host of chances in their games so far, they’re taking the ones that do fall to them.
Gareth Southgate’s side are the favourites but they have got far more quality in the squad, better options off the bench, more tactical flexibility and the idea of a home semi-final and final to work towards. They should come away with a convincing win after a nervy period somewhere in the middle of the game.
England secured top spot in their Euro 2020 group with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic last Tuesday but apart from the opening 20 minutes, could you say that was a performance worthy of being billed as one of the tournaments favourites?
There was a marginal improvement from their dismal display against Scotland, however the issues remain present.
This is one of the most talented group of England players in a generation, particularly in the forward options. But this potential is being stifled by the incompetent and negative tactics from Gareth Southgate.
Southgate has been in charge since 2017 and yet still seems afraid to let England off the leash with his continued use of two defensive midfielders.
Playing Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice together has caused a lack of pace and creativity in the side with the two of them preferring to pass sideways or backwards rather than looking to get the ball forward quickly. England should not be fearing sides like Scotland and the Czech Republic.
Many fans have been calling for Jack Grealish to come into the starting eleven to give England that spark and imagination that they’ve been sorely lacking. He got his chance on Tuesday night and was one of England’s better performers, setting up Raheem Sterling with a beautifully weighted cross.
But Southgate was forced into that change as Mason Mount had to self isolate after coming into contact with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who had tested positive for COVID-19. Had this not happened, we would have probably seen the same eleven he picked in the previous game.
His use of Jadon Sancho has also been odd as the Dortmund winger has only had six minutes game time so far, despite an impressive season in Germany with 16 goals and 20 assists in all competitions.
With a crunch game against Germany on the horizon in the last 16, England have the quality to beat them but it remains to be seen whether Southgate sticks with Grealish in the side or reverts back to type.
Based on his decision making in the past games it is more likely to be the latter.
It would be a shame for the likes of Phil Foden, Grealish and Sancho to not replicate their club form for their country due to having a manager that is more afraid of losing than going on the offensive. These players deserve better than that, and so do the fans.
News that Southgate is likely to be offered a new contract doesn’t sit well, but that’s the England national team all over.
England face a crunch Euro 2020 final group game against Czech Republic tonight, and only a win will see them qualify as group winners.
A win over Croatia was followed up with a draw against Scotland, meaning that they have four points from two games just like the Czech’s. But with the visitors on Tuesday night having a better goal difference following their 2-0 win over the Scots, a draw would see them win the group ahead of England.
Gareth Southgate will be without Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell for the game after they were forced to self-isolate following close contact with Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for COVID-19 after the England-Scotland game on Friday night.
So who should start the game that England must win to get their tournament really kick-started? This would be my team:
Jordan Pickford (GK)
England’s best available goalkeeper so he should start. Yet to really be tested during the tournament but has kept two clean sheets and his passing and claiming of crosses has been good, so no need to change anything there.
Kyle Walker (RB)
Walker was hot and cold against Croatia but without him against Scotland, England looked stale. His pace is a powerful tool in both directions while his ability on the ball is more than adequate to help build from the back, he’s England best option in the position and should start.
John Stones (CB)
The Manchester City centre-back came closest to breaking the deadlock against Scotland when he headed against the post. That aerial ability has been on show throughout the tournament but also his one-on-one defensive qualities and passing have continued to shine through and he should keep his place.
Harry Maguire (CB)
Manchester United’s captain has yet to kick a ball at this tournament so far and England haven’t conceded a goal yet, but he should come into the side for this one. Defensively he is excellent aerially and as a leader, while also being far better on the ball than Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady. Must start.
Luke Shaw (LB)
Shaw was called into the side for the Scotland game but struggled to make an impact as he wasn’t really allowed to push on too much. That must change in this game if England are to have success and he is the best attacking left-back in the squad. With Chilwell out due to COVID protocols, he must start.
Declan Rice (CM)
Rice is a solid defensive outlet when it comes his midfield role but progressing the ball against a low block defence is not his strongest attribute. With that said, England can’t afford to lose the game and he is comfortably the best defensive midfielder in the squad. He should be in there for added protection but his role should be simple – win the ball back and give it to the more talented players.
Jude Bellingham (CM)
The last thing England need to do in this game is play with two holding midfielders, so it’s the perfect chance for young Bellingham to make his mark on the tournament. More than comfortable in every role as a central midfielder, the 18-year-old would offer terrific balance and some added attacking quality in the final third where needed.
Jadon Sancho (RW)
He’s yet to get his boots dirty in this tournament but Sancho is more than deserving of some action in this tournament now. England have really struggled creatively so far and only Harry Kane had more goal involvements during the last campaign. Sancho has pace, skill, great combination play with passing and has a killer pass and eye for goal so would be the perfect man to bring in to a struggling side.
Jack Grealish (CAM)
It was a surprise that he didn’t start against Croatia and during the 27 minutes he got against Scotland he wasn’t able to do much, but Grealish deserves the nod here. He has the flair and playing style perfectly suited to international football and has shown time and again in an England shirt that he can perform. With Mount unavailable, he’s the obvious choice to step in to the number ten position.
Marcus Rashford (LW)
Raheem Sterling remains the only man to score for England so far in this tournament but his performances have been far from excellent. Marcus Rashford was second in the entire England squad for goal contributions last season (tied with Sancho) and has come on in both games but struggled to get into them. A start here would give him that chance, with his eye for goal and direct style precisely what England have been lacking.
Harry Kane (ST)
As if it was ever in doubt, Southgate has already confirmed that his captain and star striker will start this game. The Tottenham man is yet to even have a shot on target in the tournament but he’s always been a man for the big occasion and there is no bigger stage than now, so expect him to finally make his arrival with a goal in this one.
England look to secure qualification into the round of 16 at the first attempt at Euro 2020 with a win over Scotland in match day 2.
Raheem Sterling’s goal in the second half gave the Three Lions a well deserved 1-0 win over Croatia in their opening game, in a performance that did the country proud.
Manager Gareth Southgate will now need to make some tough decisions in the team against Scotland, with England expected to control possession more and their home nation rivals likely to line up in a very defensive manner.
Does Southgate stick to a winning formula or make some changes to keep everyone in the 26-man squad on their toes and in rhythm? This is the England team that should start against Scotland for us.
Jordan Pickford (GK)
The Everton stopper’s number one shirt was in doubt before the original tournament in 2020 but he kept his shirt for the opener when Nick Pope went down injured and was ruled out of the tournament before the squad was picked.
His position is even further cemented now with Dean Henderson’s withdrawal from the squad, so he is now comfortably the best keeper available and should start.
Kyle Walker (RB)
Walker had a good performance against Croatia in the opening game and with Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson being deployed in a wing-back role, Walker’s pace and strength will be needed to ensure he doesn’t get a free ride out wide all night.
He’s good in possession against low block sides too, with his experience playing for Manchester City and as the best full-back in the squad he deserves to start again.
John Stones (CB)
He was the best fit centre-back England had in the first game and he turned in a performance to back it up too. Great ability on the ball, fantastic aerially in both boxes and a very good one-on-one defender, barring the odd brain fart he gets he’s got the tools to be one of the best England have.
His ability on the ball will see him be key to England building up play from the back and he’ll be a threat at set-pieces too, so he starts again.
Harry Maguire (CB)
He’s missed around a month of action with an ankle ligament injury, but after training for the last week since the Croatia game Maguire is available to play and therefore should start.
Southgate says he will play a part but is unsure of if he’ll start yet, but he’d be better off starting when the intensity is higher to really see if he is fit enough to play. Mings was excellent against Croatia in the opening game so England can trust that they have a solid deputy if needed but it’s the perfect game to give Maguire a start in.
Luke Shaw (LB)
Kieran Trippier got the shock nod at left-back in the opening game, but against a side likely to play a low block stretching the pitch will be key.
That means a natural left footer should play at left-back and Shaw was the best left-back in the country last season and therefore deserves his shot at starting in a major tournament. His partnership at club level with Maguire will be helpful too but his pace and passing going forward will help England unlock the Scottish defence.
Declan Rice (CM)
Gary Neville described Rice as one of the two undroppable players in the England team along with Harry Kane and while I don’t necessarily agree, he is hard to replace.
Quite comfortably the best defensive midfielder England have, Rice’s positioning and tackling go hand-in-hand with his reading of the game and make him a key part of the jigsaw of a Southgate team. He’ll need to be better on the ball in a game like this, with more progressive passes and bravery, but his reliability defensively adds some protection to an otherwise attacking team.
Jude Bellingham (CM)
This will seem harsh to many because of just how good Kalvin Phillips was against Croatia, but this is the type of game where I want someone in a deeper midfield role with more of a natural attacking burst.
Bellingham has the ability to help out defensively where needed but also has a killer pass on him, ability to drive past players and can score goals too. Getting players into a rhythm in case they’re called upon is key for a tournament and Bellingham is good enough to get a start and make a difference.
Raheem Sterling (RW)
Most people didn’t have Sterling starting the opener, but he turned in a great performance where he was the most dangerous attacker and got the only goal of the game.
The confidence he’ll take from that game will be big for the rest of the tournament and he should be allowed to ride that momentum into this game too. Pace, direct running, a great dribbler and excellent movement from out-to-in make him the perfect outlet for England against the Scotland back five and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him score once again.
Mason Mount (CAM)
Ideally I probably wouldn’t play Mount in this game and certainly not in this position, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to start so I’ve included him.
He’s a top player, with an excellent touch and lots of intelligence around the way he moves around the pitch with and without the ball but against Croatia he looked quite flat after a bright start. In a game like this he will need to be at his brilliant best (which is more likely than not to be fair) and his combination play with the front three around him will be key to opening Scotland up.
Jack Grealish (LW)
There was general shock around the exclusion of Grealish from the starting team against Croatia after his performances in the warm-up games, but I expect him to come back into the side here.
Phil Foden got the nod in that game but aside from hitting the post early on he was quite ineffective in the opening game. Grealish’s direct running and ability to slow a game down then flick a switch to up the tempo is exactly what England need in a game such like this, where Scotland will set up deep and look to frustrate them.
Harry Kane (ST)
He starts when he’s fit and available and rightly so. England’s best striker in a long time but also arguably one of the best in the world, he has every type of finish in his arsenal and is also one of the best creators in the squad so you’d be silly to have a team without him in the starting lineup.
James Ward-Prowse put his point across to England manager Gareth Southgate during the final warm-up game for Euro 2020 as England beat Romania 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium.
The Southampton man started in central midfield in a heavily changed England line-up as they prepare for their Euro 2020 opener against Croatia next Sunday and put in a great performance alongside Kalvin Phillips and then Jordan Henderson until he was replaced on 75 minutes.
It certainly did him no harm in his chances of replacing Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final England squad for the tournament, after the England man picked up a thigh injury that ruled him out of contention after initially being picked.
With Mason Greenwood ruled out through injury too and only three goalkeepers allowed to be named it means Southgate has five options to replace Trent.
But with Ollie Watkins as a striker, it seems unlikely that he would be involved in any scenario that Southgate could think up. Then you have Ben Godfrey, who can play as both a centre-back or right-back as he did against Romania. But with three right-back options already in the squad and four natural centre-backs plus Walker, Shaw and James able to cover in a back three he doesn’t seem too needed there.
Ben White is another option, with the same capabilities as Godfrey but also an ability to play in defensive midfield too which could appeal to the manager with Jordan Henderson’s fitness worries. But it would seem a bit silly from Southgate to opt for White because of his ability to play in midfield when you have midfielders readily available.
That leaves Ward-Prowse and Lingard to battle out for the spot and the Saints skipper should be the man to get the nod for me.
While Lingard has had an excellent half-season with West Ham United, he is far more offensive minded and occupies a more advanced position in the team. Those attacking midfield positions are unaffected by Trent’s withdrawal with the likes of Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount all still in the conversation for a place in the team.
That means Ward-Prowse is the most logical choice in terms of squad balance, but he’s also the best option.
Trent’s biggest weapon is his crossing and set-piece delivery, something that Ward-Prowse also possesses. Add to that the fact he is a natural central midfielder, has played in the England setup under Southgate for a lot of this season and offers something different to the other midfielders in the team.
He has a wicked set-piece delivery and if England start chasing a game that becomes an option, much like it would’ve done had Trent been available on the bench. He’s a familiar face with great energy and talent and fits the balance perfectly.
Southgate’s choice is relatively easy to make, but it turns out he doesn’t agree. The England manager confirmed on Monday morning that it would in fact be Ben White would replace Alexander-Arnold in the squad, after he impressed in defensive midfield and centre-back during the two friendlies and training.
My first thoughts on that are that while that may be true, the fact that Harry Maguire is a huge doubt for the opening games has surely played a part in his decision making process here. Without Maguire they’re short of options that can play in a back-four and White’s versatility helps in that regard, as well as his familiarity with a three-at-the-back system with Brighton.
Ward-Prowse should count himself mightily unlucky not to be involved, but he would’ve been mine and many others’ pick too and deserves to be in the squad.