Dust off your England flags and get ‘Three Lions’ on your speakers because EURO 2024 is just around the corner. We’re now just nine months away from the tournament in Germany and England will be desperate to avenge their 2021 penalty shootout heartbreak in the final.
In what seems to have become a strangely familiar feeling, England fans have every reason to be optimistic. We’ve got a squad full of young, exciting talent, and Gareth Southgate’s record in major tournaments speaks for itself.
Ahead of the Euros, we’ve taken a look at who might make the final squad and whether they can go all the way.
While even Gareth Southgate won’t know how his final squad will look, there are some players that we already know will be on the plane providing they’re fit and available. Captain Harry Kane will be familiar with the German venues following his switch to Bayern Munich and he’ll be keen to make amends following his penalty miss in the World Cup defeat to France.
Meanwhile, he’ll be joined in attack by Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish. Superstar midfielders Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice are shoo-ins following their big-money moves over the summer.
At the back, Manchester City duo John Stones and Kyle Walker are guaranteed to feature in the final squad, along with Kieran Trippier and Jordan Pickford. Elsewhere, left-backs Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell should also be called up.
Southgate has come under scrutiny for being too loyal to his favourites, even when they’re not playing for their clubs. And while their inclusion may not please everyone, there’s a strong chance that Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips will also be in the squad.
For any other country in the world, Trent Alexander-Arnold would be one of the first names on the plane. However, he’s never quite forced his way into Southgate’s plans, particularly given our strength at right-back. Yet his recent England appearances have seen him deployed in central midfield so there’s hope for the Liverpool man yet.
James Maddison has been on the fringes for a few years and having started the season strongly at Tottenham, you’d expect him to be in contention. Similarly, a return to form for Raheem Sterling could thrust the Chelsea winger back into the fold, despite him being ignored for the recent international break.
Crystal Palace star Eberechi Eze has also featured in the last few squads but with such strength in depth in attacking areas, he may just miss out.
Stones seems to be the only nailed centre-back, which gives an opportunity for the likes of Marc Guehi, Lewis Dunk, Levi Colwill and Fikayo Tomori to impress from now until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen who will be trusted to provide back-up for Kane up top. Callum Wilson appears to be the frontrunner but he’ll be looking over his shoulder at the form of Eddie Nketiah and Ollie Watkins alongside Ivan Toney, with his gambling ban ending in January, giving him 5 months to fire himself back into form.
After narrowly losing the final on penalties last time out, England will fancy their chances at going one better next summer. But they’ll face stiff competition from France, who are favourites to go all the way.
They boast a squad packed full of young talent, spearheaded by Kylian Mbappe, who has cemented his place among the world’s elite. But England aren’t far behind and having run France close at the World Cup, combined with their young stars getting another 18 months of experience under their belts, there’s no reason to fear anybody.
Hosts Germany will inevitably improve in time to be in contention next summer. A recent 4-1 defeat to Japan saw manager Hansi Flick dismissed. Yet more often than not, the Germans step up when it matters in tournaments.
As ever, Spain and Portugal will be among the contenders. Cristiano Ronaldo will be 39 by the time the competition gets underway and it will likely be his final chance to claim another international trophy.
Meanwhile, holders Italy will be looking to retain their crown, while the Netherlands and Belgium will always be dark horses.
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