Who should be Gareth Southgate’s front three?

Ethan Todd discusses his front three for the 2021 European Championships.

Ethan Todd
30th May 2021
Image - Twitter @England

With the European championships looming, there is a lot of debate circulating between England fans as to how Gareth Southgate should construct his starting eleven, specifically how to formulate the most effective front three possible.

Certainly, in my lifetime, this has been the first time England have yielded a plethora of elite-level attacking options, creating immense excitement as to the prowess of the forwards within the squad. Kane, Calvert-Lewin and Watkins show great central danger.

Assuming Southgate opts for a 4-3-3 formation, the squad is littered with danger-men out wide with the likes of: Sterling, Rashford, Sancho, Foden and Grealish of note.  

Harry Kane - centre forward

The Spurs talisman is the first name on the team sheet – simple as that. With 21 goals and 13 assists so far this season, it is evident that Kane is the clear heir to the throne of the England number 9 left behind by Wayne Rooney, proving himself to be arguably the most prolific and dangerous centre forward in the world at the moment.

Not only is Kane one of the finest finishers in the world, especially under Mourinho he has proven that he is not a one trick pony, his distribution evident in his relationship with Heung-Min Son has been superb.

If Kane stays fit and maintains his fiery run of form, it is undeniable that he can spearhead a serious challenge for the Euro’s this summer.

Jadon Sancho – right wing

Possibly a controversial choice, in my humble opinion the Dortmund wide man should be a starter for Southgate this summer, as his sheer technical skill on the ball I believe is the best within the whole squad.

A lot of England fans who are unaware of leagues abroad may not understand or know just how dangerous the former Manchester City winger can be; Sancho is pacey, direct, evasive and unpredictable.

With 11 assists and 6 goals in a struggling and inconsistent Dortmund side, Sancho still produces good numbers, admittedly aided by the ridiculous talent of Erling Haaland.

However, I believe that a player akin to Sancho will breed serious fear within defences at the Euro’s, able to slip in Kane with silky, channel-splitting through balls and jink through backlines with ease. It is important to erase Premier League bias and remember why Manchester United were prepared to pay over £100 million to secure Sancho’s signature.

Marcus Rashford – left wing

Regarding the left-wing role, it is extremely close between Sterling and Rashford as to who should start for Southgate.

I believe that Rashford is the slightly more effective and better option to utilise within the Euro’s, alongside Kane and Sancho. Both Rashford and Sterling have had slightly underwhelming seasons merited by their own high standards, however it is the United winger that has the tendency to perform better in bigger games as we have seen this Raheem Sterling go under the radar in a flourishing city side.

For me, Rashford is also the most effective finisher of the two as Sterling is more prone to occasionally bottling a simple chance, highlighting this clear draw from the rest of his game. Rashford has outscored and assisted Sterling within the Premier League this season and has thus warranted his place in the starting eleven.

With Sancho and Rashford supporting Kane, this provides immense creativity and direction out wide, funnelling into the most prolific striker in world football this season, will clearly poison defences at the Euros with dread – and has a very real chance of taking England all the way to European glory.

Honourable mentions.

Evidently, the likes of Foden and Grealish have both enjoyed wonderful seasons, both warranting a serious challenge for a place in Gareth Southgate’s side.

However, Grealish’s lay off with injury has derailed his bid and it is arguable that his creative spark is more effective in a central role, rather than struggling wider as Rashford and Sterling both clearly outshine him in terms of sheer pace.

Phil Foden has earned his plaudits ten-fold of late, emerging as one of the most exciting young talents in world football, with his Messi-esque style and silkiness on the ball.

Despite this, I believe Southgate is still yet to work out the most effective role for Foden within his team, possibly involving him in a free central role will be more beneficial.

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AUTHOR: Ethan Todd
Aspiring football journalist studying at Newcastle University.

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