Picking England’s Euro 2020 Squad

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It’s been debated throughout the entirety of the 2020-21 season, and now TheMastermindSite takes their swing at picking England’s squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament. Taking into consideration both our dream squad and Gareth Southgate’s likely plans for the tournament, here is our 23-man squad for Euro 2020, as compiled by Rhys Desmond, Sam The Man, Kevin Ravindran and Anthony Khoury.

goalkeepers

jordan pickford

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Pickford has been criticized at times for his performances this season and remains error-prone. However, the England goalkeeper has been reliable for Gareth Southgate’s side and performed well at the last major international tournament – the World Cup in 2018. His underlying numbers have also been decent this season for Everton, making 2.37 saves per goal conceded. Among England goalkeepers, he’s also the best with the ball at his feet. This could be crucial for both England’s ability to play out from the back, and the team’s distribution from deep. Given what he’s accomplished for England in the last five years, Pickford is the likeliest keeper to start at this summer’s tournament.

NICK POPE

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Where Burnley would be this season without Nick Pope is hard to imagine. Not only has he been Burnley’s standout player, but he’s arguably been the best goalkeeper in the league. Only Ederson and Emiliano Martinez can match the level Pope has performed at this season, and he’s certainly the best shot stopper of all England’s options in goal. The 28-year old goalkeeper isn’t as good with his feet, and also doesn’t ever try to be for Burnley. As a result, Southgate may prefer Pickford. That said, it’s hard to look past Pope’s remarkable saves per goal conceded ratio of 3.2, and his nine clean sheets for a team toward the bottom of the table. If England opted for the best shot stopper and the man unlikeliest to mistake, Nick Pope would be the number one choice.

DEAN HENDERSON

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Dean Henderson has had quite the rise in the past few seasons, performing remarkably well for Championship promoted Sheffield United in 2019-20, and now coming into his own at one of the biggest clubs in the world. He looks destined to be David De Gea’s long-term replacement at Manchester United, and could soon outshine Southgate’s preferred choices to make the number one spot his own. A well-rounded keeper, Henderson likely encapsulates some of the best qualities of Pickford and Pope combined. However, Pickford is better with the ball, and Pope is the better shot-stopper. That means Henderson may remain third choice of the three, despite having undeniable quality and probably the highest ceiling of the three.

injury replacement: sam johnstone

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Although the hope would be that Pickford, Henderson and Pope remain fit, Sam Johnstone has to be the first name on the list if one of them were to be injured prior to the tournament. West Brom would probably be one of the worst sides in Premier League history had it not been for Johnstone, who’s made the most saves in the league this season. However, all four of our contributors picked the three men above as undeniable plane ticket holders, and Johnstone will be lucky to get a look in the squad.

right backs

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD

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Left out of the last squad due to his “recent performances”, Trent Alexander-Arnold still looks like a nailed-on starter for this summer’s tournament. Despite Liverpool’s woes, the 22-year old’s personal performances have picked up in the last month and he remains one of the nation’s greatest creators. He could play either as a right-back or wing-back equally well, and will likely have a big role to play in attack should he be selected.

KYLE WALKER

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Kyle Walker’s lost his place to Joao Cancelo at Manchester City this season, but he hasn’t lost his pace. The 30-year old right-back remains an excellent defender and still has the speed of a younger version of himself. Walker can also perform alongside Maguire and Stones if Southgate elects for a beck-three, as he did at the World Cup, and can provide greater experience and leadership at right-back when required. Even if he’s not a starter and might be past his prime, Kyle Walker has to be on the plane to the Euros.

REECE JAMES

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Given Trent’s “recent performances” and Reece James’ positive start to life under Thomas Tuchel, the Chelsea man may very well take the mantle on the right-hand-side. Although someone like Aaron Wan-Bissaka may genuinely be a better player, Reece James’ youth certainly plays a part. The 21-year-old defender looks set for a fantastic career at Chelsea having broken into the team last season, and Southgate would be foolish not to take James for the experience alone. He’s also played both right-back and wing-back for Chelsea, and could provide greater defensive stability in a back-four to support Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell making more forward runs from the left. Trent Alexander-Arnold doesn’t necessarily do that to the same extent, although evidently has more quality going forward.

CENTRE BACKS

John Stones

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John Stones has revitalized his career at Manchester City this season and has been one of the best defenders in the league. With the trust that Gareth Southgate has in the former Everton man and his performances at the 2018 World Cup, Stones was a likely selection regardless of his fantastic season. Given that he can play as the anchor in a back-three or a very solid member of a back-four, he also provides the solidity and versatility Southgate desires. What’s perhaps even more positive from an England standpoint is that Stones is currently in the form of his life. A shoe-in for the PFA Team of the Year at this point, all England supporters will be hoping the Manchester City man continues his stellar form at this summer’s tournament.

Harry Maguire

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Harry Maguire is the other obvious name in England’s defensive lineup as far as centre-backs go, and will be a key leader for the team. The Manchester United captain has enjoyed a fantastic three and a half years since his big move to Leicester in 2017, and played a massive part in England’s form under Southgate in 2018. He too will be able to fulfill a role in either a back-four or back-three, and his partnership with John Stones looks like the only nailed on partnership in the entirety of the squad as things stand. England fans will be hoping that the Maguire of the past six months turns up rather than the Maguire of the first few months of the season, and if that remains the case than England can certainly claim one of the best defenses at this summer’s tournament.

Eric Dier

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Narrowly scraping onto the list, Eric Dier had a positive start to the season at Spurs, but has since gone off the boil like the bulk of the squad. Rhys Desmond picked just three centre-backs with the knowledge that Walker and Shaw could play the position as part of a back-three, opting for Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings instead. Anthony meanwhile selected Michael Keane and Dier as supporting characters, and Sam the Man supported the Dier selection, opting for the Tottenham man and Conor Coady instead. That pushed Dier onto the team, which is probable even if it seems a bit undeserved. The Tottenham defender can play in any formation England want to play, and offers an additional defensive midfield option should Rice or Henderson need support. He’s an undeniable Gareth Southgate favourite, but Dier does also offer decent versatility and leadership in a team that has quite a few younger members.

conor coady

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Conor Coady is quickly becoming a Gareth Southgate favourite with England, despite being a bit under the radar in the league. Hailing from Liverpool’s academy, Coady is undoubtedly a talented passer of the ball and exceptional defensive organizer. However, his form at Wolves has been up and down this season and the team as a whole haven’t done anything special. Michael Keane and Tyrone Mings have both had genuinely better seasons, yet Coady might be preferred due to his ability to organize a back-three and ability to play out from the back.

injury replacement: tyrone mings

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Tyrone Mings hasn’t missed out on an England squad in quite some time, so it would be a genuine shock if he were to miss out on this one, but here we are. Mings has had an exceptional season with Villa in 2020-21, and in terms of defensive ability alone is probably on-par with Maguire and Stones. However, all four of the men mentioned above do provide more than Mings, particularly when playing out from the back or in a back-three. With all that said, given how active he’s been for England since the start of last season, it would be a surprise if he were to be left out of Gareth Southgate’s summer plans.

INJURY REPLACEMENT: MICHAEL KEANE

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Michael Keane meanwhile has also had an excellent season, but it will be difficult for him to break into a squad already so stacked with centre-backs ahead of him in the pecking order. Everton’s back-four would not be the same without him, but England’s probably will be. Southgate does however love defenders, and Michael Keane may earn a surprise nod for the team if any of the players above miss out.

left backs

Luke Shaw

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One of the very best players in the Premier League this season and almost undeniably the best left-back in the league at the moment, Luke Shaw is in the form of his life. After making his big move to United in 2014, Shaw had a difficult spell full of injuries, heartache and criticism. But this season with Alex Telles breathing down his neck, Shaw’s game has soared to new heights and he’s been United’s second best player. Crucially, he also has experience playing as a left-sided-centre-back in a back-three, despite it looking increasingly likely that Southgate will opt for a back-four. Should he get the starting birth over the man below, Luke Shaw should be set to play a crucial role in both United’s defense and attack this summer.

Ben Chilwell

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Ben Chilwell had a fantastic start to the season under Frank Lampard, but has slightly dipped in form under the management of Thomas Tuchel. The former Leicester man’s been in and out of Tuchel’s team, losing a consistent spot in the eleven to Marcos Alonso. However, he remains one of England’s best left-backs and just like Shaw offers a massive threat going forward. Others like Matt Targett and Aaron Cresswell might have had better seasons, but their selections look increasingly unlikely and Chilwell remains the more reliable presence. He’s dynamic enough to play as a wing-back and solid enough to play more reserved, and he also has the experience of playing for clubs of the size of Leicester and Chelsea. Given how talented of a player Ben Chilwell is, Luke Shaw’s spot in the eleven also isn’t a nailed on guarantee.

defensive midfielders

DECLAN RICE

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Amid rumours of his future at West Ham, the 22-year old midfielder made an excellent decision to stay with the Hammers this season and now has a genuine shot of claiming a spot in Europe with his team. Rice has been one of, if not the best defensive midfielder in the league this season, and has been invaluable to the Hammers’ success as they sit in sixth place. Now approaching this summer’s Euros, Rice has to be a guaranteed starter at this point, whether they’re playing in a 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 or 3-4-3. The British midfielder is excellent at everything he does and provides so much more gusto, composure and class than they’ve had in the position in years. If England want to play more defensive, they can have a combination of Henderson and Rice start together in any formation, but given his form in 2020-21, Declan Rice should be Southgate’s preferred choice if the decision comes down to one or the other.

jordan henderson

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It hasn’t been a season to remember for Jordan Henderson, but he remains one of England’s best and most reliable midfielders. Not only that, he’s an excellent leader for the team and provides Premier League winning, Champions League winning experience to a team that is so desperate to win something. Henderson knows what it takes to win a major trophy, and he will be a valuable asset for England to have at their disposal, so long as he gets back to full fitness for the summer.

injury replacement: kalvin phillips

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England will be hoping they don’t have to call on anyone else to do the job in defensive midfield, but Southgate may even opt for a third man in the position just to be safe. Kalvin Phillips is the obvious choice, having had a successful past few years and offering more defensive prowess than anyone else who could fit the billing. Phillips is a solid progressor of the ball, has decent positional sense and consistently puts up great defensive numbers on a game by game basis. Should England need a third defensive midfielder, he really is the obvious choice.

attacking midfielders

mason mount

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A man who should be one of the first names on the team sheet at this summer’s tournament, Mason Mount has had an exceptional season for Chelsea, under two different managers. The Chelsea man can play with a bit more attacking energy as part of a double-pivot if Gareth Southgate wants to play 4-2-3-1, but more likely will look to start in either an advanced role as a number 10 or in a 4-3-3 as one of the two outside central midfielders. How to accommodate Grealish and Mount into the same team could be a challenge, but he provides so much more in build-up phases and drops deep more than any other attack-minded player England have at their disposal. Mount will likely play a crucial role at this summer’s tournament, and Southgate should actively test different formations to understand how to get the best out of his talent.

jack grealish

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Jack Grealish has arguably been the player of the season in the Premier League, and Aston Villa have lacked all sense of creativity since he’s been out. If Grealish is in the team, he might even be the go-to player that the rest of the squad looks to give the ball to. He’s just that good with the ball at his feet and offers so much extra verve and chance creation than some of the younger names who will be pushing for a place (sorry Foden and Saka). Jack Grealish should start at this point for England, but it seems nearly impossible for Southgate to do so given that he has Rashford, Sancho and Sterling all vying for a similar position on the wings, and Mount potentially fulfilling the same position if he’s moved inside. A selection headache will certainly ensue once the team settles into their pre-match preparations, but Jack Grealish has to be in Southgate’s plans.

phil foden

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Phil Foden is far more likely to start for England on the wings than as a number ten, but those gushing over his talent still seem to think of him as a central midfielder who can move into attacking midfield whenever required. That might be true, but the 20-year old has certainly been his most impressive this season when coming from the left or right wing, drifting inside and making his magic happen. Foden has so much undeniable quality, but it seems strange how he could possibly get a look in the eleven over Sancho, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish and Mount. Those are all among the very best in the world at their respective positions, with Sancho possibly even being one of the two best wingers in the world at the moment. Foden should certainly be part of the squad, but he hasn’t reached the very top level just yet and still doesn’t start consistently for Pep’s Manchester City. That said, Gareth Southgate and the general fan consensus seem to collectively disagree and Phil Foden may start in a number of different roles at this summer’s tournament.

injury replacement: jude bellingham

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Jude Bellingham is one of many reasons why England fans are so excited about the nation’s “golden generation” coming through at the moment. The 17-year old has enjoyed a remarkable first season at Borussia Dortmund, oozing class at the heart of central midfield. He still has quite a bit of work to do to become on the level of a Jordan Henderson or Mason Mount, but Bellingham’s future certainly looks promising. His selection would probably be one more for the experience though, and Southgate might opt for the more defensive Kalvin Phillips if he runs into trouble or wants an extra defensive midfielder in the squad.

wingers

jadon sancho

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Up until his recent injury, Jadon Sancho led the Bundesliga in just about every attacking stat imaginable other than goals. He’s had a phenomenal year so far in 2021, particularly under the influence of Edin Terzic and a change of system back to 4-2-3-1. He’s still yet to hit the same extreme heights for England as he does consistently for Borussia Dortmund, but the quality that he has on the ball is unlike any other player in the world. The silky smooth control and excellent dribbling power he possesses means that he can fit into England’s style of play whether it be more possession-based or more reliant on counter-attacking on a game by game basis. The fact that Jadon Sancho isn’t just a guaranteed starter for England is outrageous, but then again, people don’t watch the Bundesliga as much as the Premier League and that hasn’t helped the public perception of his overall talents. Still though, fans of England should be prepared for Jadon Sancho to excite the nation (and the world for that matter) at this summer’s tournament, so long as his positive form continues.

MARCUS RASHFORD

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Marcus Rashford came on strong toward the end of the 2019-20 campaign, helping United earn a spot in the UEFA Champions League right at the very end. This season he’s been arguably even better, helping lead United’s charge into second place. His performances in the UEFA Champions League in particular were also stellar, scoring six goals in six matches. As an excellent counter-attacker and capable goal-scorer, Rashford certainly has all the tools to challenge for a spot in Southgate’s eleven. In just about any other national team in the world, he’d probably even be a guaranteed starter. Unfortunately for him, England have just too many options to count.

RAHEEM STERLING

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Raheem Sterling continues to play an important part for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City – arguably the best team in the world. As a result, it only seems fitting that he plays an important part for Gareth Southgate’s England – arguably the best national team in the world at the moment (on paper). Sterling could pose a threat from the wide areas, or play as a second striker if Southgate were to opt for something like a 3-5-2. He offers so much in possession of the ball and has an exceptional eye for goal. So despite the incredible quality of Sancho and Rashford, Sterling remains the likeliest winger to start for Southgate.

BUKAYO SAKA

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It’s amazing to think that Bukayo Saka is still only nineteen-years old and could end up being the youngest member of the squad should Jude Bellingham be left at home. Saka’s been Arsenal’s best player over the course of the season, with some of the other contenders for that crown (e.g. Smith-Rowe, Tierney, Odegaard) only coming on strong in 2021. Saka on the other hand has been consistent week in and week out, and provides so much versatility for Mikel Arteta’s side. Saka could play for England as a left-wing-back, central midfielder, attacking midfielder or on either wing. With that much versatility, he has to picked for Gareth Southgate’s team almost unquestionably. The only two things that could prevent him from doing so would be the incredible form of Jesse Lingard in recent months, or if Southgate opts for another centre-back instead. Otherwise, Bukayo Saka should definitely get his chance to shine at this summer’s tournament, even if he’s unlikely to start.

INJURY REPLACEMENT: JESSE LINGARD

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Given the incredible start to life he’s had at West Ham United, it would be very harsh for Jesse Lingard to actually miss out on England’s squad this year. He was instrumental to their success just three years ago at the World Cup, and has since evolved as an immaculate counter attacker on top of the incredible on-the-ball ability and game understanding he always possessed. If he had started the season at West Ham, this would probably be clear as day. However, Lingard will need to continue his positive form if he’s to claim a place, and may have to hope someone succumbs to injury if he’s to truly break into the twenty-three. The good thing for Lingard is that once he’s in the twenty-three, there’s no reason why he couldn’t push for a consistent place in and around the eleven. He still remains a classy midfielder, more than capable of producing something special for the Three Lions.

FORWARDS

HARRY KANE

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Arguably the first name on the team sheet, England’s captain will be hoping to inspire his nation to their first major international win in years. Harry Kane currently leads the league in both goals and assists, and could easily carry that form over to England if his hamstrings are able to save the date. He will offer England goals, but also an ability to pick up the ball from deep and allow the likes of Sancho, Sterling and Rashford to remain high and wide, just as he does for Tottenham with Heung-Min-Son. Harry Kane will be a crucial member of the England squad and the Three Lions will be hoping he goes into the tournament feeling fresh and without any niggling injuries from his busy season.

DOMINIC CALVERT-LEWIN

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The final name on the team, Dominic Calvert-Lewin offers England a different set of skills up front. The Everton man is a great goal-scorer and overall threat inside of the eighteen-yard-box. Harry Kane could even play a withdrawn role as a number ten, allowing Calvert-Lewin to bang in the goals up top. If he’s suddenly to be injured, Ollie Watkins or Jamie Vardy could get a surprise call, but Calvert-Lewin looks very prepared to play his part at this summer’s tournament.

starting 11

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FORMATION: 4-2-3-1

GK: Jordan Pickford
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold
CB: John Stones
CB: Harry Maguire
LB: Luke Shaw
DM: Declan Rice
DM: Jordan Henderson
RW: Raheem Sterling
AM: Mason Mount
LW: Jack Grealish
CF: Harry Kane


So there it is! Our choice for England’s Euro 2020 squad for this summer’s tournament. Thanks to Kevin, Sam, and Anthony for contributing to the selection of the team and be sure to stay tuned for more on the current International Football scene. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…
-> Looking ahead to the international break – Netherlands, Germany and Canada
-> CONCACAF Qualifiers: What is the Best Formation for Canada’s Men’s National Team?
-> Predicting Germany’s Euro 2020 Squad

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