With qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020 set to get underway, England yesterday named their squad for games against Czech Republic and Montenegro.
Gareth Southgate has broadly kept the same squad that were called up for November’s internationals, but has he made the correct decisions or should some be dropped in favour of more deserving players?
Jack Butland (Stoke City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton)Embed from Getty Images
I am slightly surprised at this selection because Jordan Pickford has had quite an inconsistent Winter for Everton, with just three clean sheets compared to Watford’s impressive Ben Foster who has outclassed Pickford in nearly every stat.
Tom Heaton however deserves his place after a string of impressive performances in Burnley’s revival, and will definitely provide Southgate with a selection headache between him and Pickford.
Jack Butland’s inclusion meanwhile is understandable for consistency and he has been that for Stoke in the Championship, unlike a few Premier League keepers like Southampton’s Angus Gunn and Alex McCarthy.
Czech Republic and Montenegro however shouldn’t pose too much trouble for these goalkeepers unlike teams like Germany or Turkey if had drawn them instead, which probably justifies Pickford’s selection over Foster.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Kieran Tripper (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Luke Shaw (Manchester United)Embed from Getty Images
There are no major complaints here because these are England’s best defenders, although Ben Mee deserves a call up given his improved form for Burnley but wouldn’t swap any centre-back out for Mee.
Southgate however has a huge headache between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Tripper at right-back, because Alexander-Arnold has shown impressive form whereas Trippier hasn’t but is the top right-back that we have.
We should therefore see a three man central defence with two wingbacks higher up the pitch, based on this defensive selection.
Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea, Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham)Embed from Getty Images
This is a solid midfield selection despite the snub of Leicester’s James Maddison who has been possibly England’s best midfielder over the winter with more through balls, touches and crosses than several defenders.
His absence therefore indicates that we could well see a flat midfield or triangular shape with Alli in attacking midfielder position, just ahead two central midfielders.
Overall, this midfield is solid with goals likely to come from Alli, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek and Rice but might well miss the quality that Maddison would bring. .
Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)Embed from Getty Images
This forward lineup is quite an easy selection although am surprised Wilson has been called up, having only just returned from injury.
I personally wouldn’t of therefore risked Wilson here and let him have the fortnight to rest up and shake off any side effects of his return from injury, when we have Glenn Murray and Troy Deeney available and deserve call-ups.
Brighton’s Murray though would be my pick because he has the ability to trouble goalkeepers with goals from both feet whereas Deeney tends to favour his right foot.
That attribute therefore would be beneficial if England needed to chase a late goal as could bring Murray on as an impact sub to really test the opposition’s back lines.