With the European championships just around the corner, many national team managers around the continent will be sweating it out nervously as the club season comes to a close – hoping that their key players remain healthy and, more importantly, in form.
With Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford already on the long-term injury list, and players like Jordan Pickford suffering from bad form, Gareth Southgate has plenty of questions as the England manager. Here we take a look at some of the positions that could be up for grabs in the England squad.
For any team, it is important to have a reliable man between the sticks. However, if we are going by his form this season, it is increasingly worrying to think that Everton keeper Jordan Pickford would start in goal for the first game of Euro 2020. He has conceded 38 goals in 26 games and has generally been woeful in goal for the club. While he may have the ability to play out from the back that Southgate craves, is it worth sacrificing the main job of a keeper for that perceived advantage?
I don’t think so.
The good news is that there is another English keeper in the league who is on form. Dean Henderson’s performances this season have seen Sheffield United soar to impossible heights in their first season in the top flight since promotion. Henderson – while lacking in international caps – has been called up to the England squad before and is by far and away the best English keeper at this point in the game.
Burnley’s Nick Pope is another option but both his lack of international experience as well as his average form (he has in fact conceded one more goal than Pickford for the same number of games) go against him. Even though he should make the final twenty three comfortably, the real fight will be between Henderson and Pickford.
Injuries to Rashford and Kane mean that England could head into this summer’s European Championships forced to play second choice strikers for at least a part of the tournament. In years past, Jamie Vardy would have been the easy choice. But with Vardy retired from international football, the door is open for one of many forwards.
On form, the spot is a direct competition between two players – Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Southampton’s Danny Ings. Among the two, Ings has been the more consistent scorer of late with Abraham being affected by injury a little bit. But with 13 goals in 25 games for Tammy and 15 in 26 for Ings, there is very little to choose between the two and it will be interesting to see which of the two is picked to possibly back up Kane.
On the surface, this is not even a competition. Trent Alexander-Arnold is by far the best right back England has. Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Aaron Wan-Bissaka – thanks for playing.
But Trent was the best right back last year and Walker was still picked ahead of him, which is what makes this interesting. Will Walker be picked again or has Trent shown enough to take that position away from the Manchester City right back? To me the answer is clear (2 goals and 10 assists in 26 games versus 1 goal and 4 assists in 27 games – its not even close to a debate). But is it clear enough to Southgate is the real question?
Last modified: 10th March 2020