What have we learned from Gareth Southgate's latest England selections?
Background image: Rob, CC BY 2.0
As attentions turn towards this summer’s European Championships, all eyes are on England manager Gareth Southgate in regards to who he'll pick for the tournament. After reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup three years ago, expectations have never been higher with many bookmakers, at home and abroad, having England as favourites to lift the trophy despite not reaching a major final in over 50 years. Southgate has ample options but what can we tell from his latest squad ahead of England's three games in the next week?
Those who haven't been included
While many players who will definitely be in his summer plans will not take part for one reason or another, there are several names that would have expected to be included and their omission all but signals the end of their Euro hopes.
The stand-out name missing from the squad is title-winning right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, with both Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier being selected ahead of him. Southgate has challenged Liverpool’s full-back to perform before the end of the season to fight for his place, but with the other two options in form, it could be hard for him to force his way back in. Aaron Wan-Bissaka has also missed out on the spot and his hopes of being included this summer are surely over.
Another Manchester United player who will be very disappointed to miss out is Mason Greenwood. Instead, he was included in England's U21 squad, before pulling out with injury. The forward was looking strong early in the season but he has struggled to nail down a permanent place in Manchester United's starting 11.
The central defensive options haven't yet been decided, but the surprise absence this time is Michael Keane, after he was included in Southgate's previous squad, with the likes of Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings get the nod ahead of the Everton man. It's certainly one position that might change before the end of the season, but it does indicate who the manager is likely to go with.
Finally, the Chelsea duo, Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi, were both brought into the England fold after being key parts of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea last season - but the pair have seen their England stock fall since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival at Stamford Bridge. Both still have long futures ahead of them and will have other opportunities, but this year has come too soon...
Those who have been included
Several players have come back into the England fold and two in particular now have a great chance of being included for the European Championships. Left-back is one position that is very much still open in Gareth Southgate's starting 11 this summer and has led to the recall of Luke Shaw. The Manchester United full-back has been back to his best under Ole Gunnar Solskjær and strong displays over the next week will likely not just see him grab a place in the squad but possibly a starting berth ahead of Ben Chilwell.
John Stones has been another whose career appeared to be heading in the wrong direction, but his return to form has seen him cement a place in Manchester City's side. Given his resurgence, it shouldn’t be any great surprise that he has been included after over a year out of the squad. There are question marks against some of the other names at centre-back, but Stones’ inclusion here should seal his spot for the summer.
Kalvin Phillips has impressed in his first year in the Premier League for Leeds United and his inclusion again means he is likely to retain his spot later this year - as one of England’s holding midfielders behind Jordan Henderson.
While no number one has yet been decided, the three goalkeepers' positions in the squad appear to be sealed barring further injury. Jordan Pickford is not available this time, but the inclusions of Nick Pope and Dean Henderson should confirm their spots for the European Championships.
Players for the future
While we can read a lot into this squad, there are many names, who despite being included this time, I would not expect to see in England’s Euro plans.
Jesse Lingard's inclusion has highlighted his huge improvement since moving to West Ham on loan. However, it is hard to see him earning a spot in the European Championship squad due to the number of attacking midfield options ahead of him.
For central strikers, it is also difficult to see anyone breaking into Southgate’s plans with Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and Marcus Rashford all certain to be involved in June. However, the inclusion of Ollie Watkins over Patrick Bamford means the end of the Leeds strikers' challenge for a spot in the summer, it may also come too early for the Aston Villa man, but it will still be a vital experience for him.
Finally, Jude Bellingham is another included this time who has a big future ahead of him, with many already viewing him as the best option after Henderson in central midfield. His inclusion this time puts him in contention for the summer, but it may prove a major tournament too soon for the Dortmund star, with Declan Rice and Eric Dier both favoured by Southgate.
There are still a few spots that are up grabs and some will inevitably miss out through injury, but Southgate’s squad is coming together and I wouldn’t expect many surprises between now and the final summer selection