England’s runners and riders for Euro 2020: Gareth Southgate names his final squad today before the summer blockbuster… and with Stones, Shaw and Lingard resurgent, the axe is hovering over Winks, Abraham and Co
- England boss Gareth Southgate is set to name his latest squad on Thursday
- They play San Marino, Albania and Poland in World Cup 2022 qualifiers
- But the Three Lions manager will be watching players closely ahead of the Euros
- It is last-chance saloon for many players hoping for selection this summer
- Sportsmail looks at the stars who could be in contention and those at risk
Players eyeing a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for this summer’s Euro 2020 finals will be well aware that they’re running out of time.
Today the Three Lions boss will pick his squad for a triple-header of World Cup 2022 qualifiers – against San Marino, Albania and Poland.
But this will also be the final chance to take a look at players before he is forced to decide on his core group for the summer’s looming major tournament. Those who make the cut will have the perfect opportunity to showcase their talent and prove why they should make his 23-man squad.
This challenging Premier League season has served up drama, spectacle, ecstasy and agony – and it’s been a mentally tough one for players trying to keep up their consistency levels amid the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic.
But with three months left until the highly-anticipated competition, there are a number of stars whose place in the England squad is at serious risk – and those on the up have a real chance to snatch their spot.
Sportsmail takes a look through England’s runners and riders ahead of Gareth Southgate’s squad announcement.
Gareth Southgate faces a tough decision on who to pick in his latest squad today
The late runners
What a turnaround for the 26-year-old. Things were looking bleak for him at the start of the season with Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias appearing to be Pep Guardiola’s first-choice centre-back pairing at Manchester City – now Stones’ return to form has made it impossible for the Spaniard to drop him.
Now Southgate will be facing the same problem. He hasn’t given Stones a cap since November 2019, but will find it hard not to admit the former Everton man is worthy of a recall having missed the whole of 2020 for the Three Lions.
Stones has often come under fire for high-profile errors for club and country. He made a costly error against Holland in the Nations League semi-finals nearly two years ago and was perhaps at fault for the goal that eliminated England in the 2018 World Cup semi-final, when Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic nipped in behind him.
John Stones has had a dramatic turnaround in his fortunes and has become key for Man City
Southgate will find it hard to leave Stones out now having failed to select him since 2019
But this term he has knuckled down and displayed top-level consistency to help take City top of the Premier League table. It’s not a coincidence that City have four clean sheets in his last six starts.
‘He deserves it,’ Guardiola said when asked about Stones’ future with England.
‘Of course Gareth Southgate knows better than me what he needs but just in case it happens, the one person who will be delighted and happy about his comeback for the national team, will be me.’
Long a favourite of Southgate’s, the England boss will have been saddened to see the attacking midfielder’s career plummet in recent seasons having fallen out of favour with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
You would have put good money on the 28-year-old missing out on this summer’s tournament as he continued to warm the bench, but a loan to the London Stadium has been Lingard’s salvation.
He is a player reborn under David Moyes and we’re finally starting to see a smile on his face again as well as the flair and energy to his game that he’s become known for. Four goals and an assist in his first six games for the Hammers was a better start than even he could have hoped for and the club seems like a perfect fit for him as they battle for a European spot.
Jesse Lingard look like a player reborn since joining West Ham on loan with four goals in six
Lingard – who has 24 caps – was an influential figure in the England camp for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he started five times as part of Southgate’s new-look side. His national team boss won’t need too much convincing – if the player is featuring regularly and in good form he stands a good chance of being selected.
After just his first game for West Ham – which saw him net twice against Aston Villa – his manager Moyes quickly backed him to return to the fold.
‘If he keeps that form up then it might be Gareth coming knocking again,’ he said.
‘He will have his own ambitions and challenges to show people he is at a level and he showed a really good level. If he keeps playing as well as he did he will do a brilliant job for West Ham and if he keeps going like that then he’ll get back into the England squad. I hope he can get back to that standard.’
His manager David Moyes has backed him to win back his England spot amid his superb form
England have not had a clear and undisputed No 1 goalkeeper since Joe Hart was in his heyday with Manchester City, and there’s a real chance for an opening with Jordan Pickford set to miss the upcoming qualifiers.
While Dean Henderson will be competing with Nick Pope as the pair battle to show they can be first choice this summer, there should be a vacant spot as third-choice keeper this time. Unfortunately for Southgate, he is not blessed with a huge amount of choice.
Alex McCarthy and Aaron Ramsdale are both struggling with Southampton and Sheffield United respectively, but Sportsmail understands West Brom’s Sam Johnstone is on standby to come in for his first cap.
This might be a great opportunity to integrate the 27-year-old former Manchester United keeper into his squad. He hasn’t had an easy season with the Baggies as they fight relegation and has won just two games, but he’s made 112 saves so far – the most in the top flight – as well as held five clean sheets.
Sam Johnstone has made the most saves in the top flight and is in line for an England call-up
When bursting onto the scene with Southampton in 2011, Shaw was pinpointed as the future for England at left back. But it hasn’t been so straight-forward.
His sparkling performances for the Saints were rewarded with a £30m switch to Old Trafford, but he struggled under both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho to claim a starting spot – and has been plagued by fitness issues.
Now he looks revitalised under Solskjaer, having started 23 games in the Premier League and notching five assists, keeping nine clean sheets while on the pitch to ensure United have had one of the best defences this season.
Luke Shaw is starting to show his huge promise after his improved performances this season
Shaw last played for England way back in 2018, and there are plenty of candidates to fill the left-back berth – including Ben Chilwell and Bukayo Saka – although Southgate may finally decide that the 25-year-old has done enough this time around.
He recently showed his attacking influence too by scoring in the Manchester derby against rivals City in a 2-0 win. United legend Gary Neville believes the Red Devils possess the best left back in the country and added that Southgate won’t be able to turn his back on him for much longer.
‘He’s been outstanding this season for United. A Luke Shaw (that is) fit, a Luke Shaw (that is) physically good, a Luke Shaw (that is) confident is the best left back in the country, in my opinion.
Gareth Southgate should reintroduce him to the squad after nearly three years without a cap
‘Gareth Southgate will be watching him intently, thinking, “well I know Luke Shaw. I’ve seen him before”.
‘He had (almost given up on Shaw before) and you can’t give up on him now. He’s staring right at him and he’s thinking, “well that is the best-performing left back in the country at the moment in terms of English left backs”.
‘But he’s physically right, he’s mentally right and he’s clear of injury so everything’s right for Luke Shaw because he’s an amazing talent. A brilliant talent.’
If there’s any position that’s up for grabs in the England team, it’s up front. Because while Harry Kane is the captain of the team and the main goalscorer, he can’t carry the burden alone, and Southgate will want plenty of dangerous forwards who he can throw on at the Euros.
With Jamie Vardy retired (for now) and Danny Ings’ form dropping off a cliff this calendar year, what better chance for Leeds’ striker Patrick Bamford to be given a run-out for the Three Lions.
The 27-year-old, who has featured for England’s junior sides but never the senior team, has performed consistently under Marcelo Bielsa this season, netting 13 goals to keep his side away from relegation and proving himself as a deadly finisher.
Patrick Bamford could make the squad after rising up the goalscoring charts this term
He’s also shown his selfless side to lay on five assists, a trait which would make him a valuable asset to Southgate’s outfit.
Speaking in October, Bamford described how it would be ‘a dream come true’ to win a place in Southgate’s squad this summer.
‘That would be a dream [come true], but it’s unfair for me to compare myself to the other England strikers who have been doing it for a long time at this level.
‘They are more worthy [to be in contention for the Euros] at the minute.
‘I think by the end of the season if I’m still doing it and I’m up there in the top scorers charts then we can talk about whether or not I deserve a place in the England squad.’
At risk of the chop
Another midfielder often trusted and admired by Gareth Southgate – even when out of the Tottenham team. But his irregularity of starts under Mourinho surely means his place at the Euros is under threat given the amount of midfield competition.
He spent a spell out of the side after Spurs’ 3-1 defeat at home to Liverpool in January – coming on at half time that day but giving the ball away in the build-up to Sadio Mane’s goal in the second half. After that it was no surprise that he didn’t play in the league until the win over Crystal Palace earlier this month, with the boyhood Spurs man having to make do with cup appearances instead.
Harry Winks has lost his regular place under Jose Mourinho and his England spot could follow
Winks was a trusted confidant of former boss Mauricio Pochettino, who started him in the 2019 Champions League defeat to Liverpool, but Mourinho prefers the combo of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele, with Moussa Sissoko also ahead of Winks in the pecking order.
He has four caps under Southgate and has featured prominently in previous squads, but with the rise of Declan Rice and Lingard also coming into the fold, things look bleak for Winks.
We imagined that Abraham would find it tough to flourish under new boss Thomas Tuchel, with the German so far favouring the experience of Olivier Giroud up front as well as attempting to revive the fortunes of misfiring Timo Werner.
When called upon Abraham usually delivers – netting four goals in his last two starts in the cup competitions, but he’s been left frustrated under Tuchel in the league – being pulled at half time in games against Burnley and Southampton earlier this year. An ankle injury has dogged him too.
Southgate will know it won’t be wise to pick a player who isn’t getting regular game time, so Abraham will be well behind the likes of Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Callum Wilson, who are all first-choice for their clubs when fit.
Tammy Abraham could also miss the Euros after falling out of favour with Thomas Tuchel
Another player Southgate has backed over the years, but will his ban by the FA put the manager in a difficult position?
The Atletico Madrid right-back was suspended in December after breaching betting rules – revealing information to friends about his transfer to LaLiga in 2019 before they went on to place bets in relation to the move.
He served a 10-week suspension for Atletico, who fought hard against the FA to have the ban quashed, and there is bound to be tension between the player and football’s governing body after they pushed hard to lobby with FIFA for the ban to be upheld.
The former Spurs star has since returned to action in LaLiga – playing the last four games, including this week’s Champions League KO by Chelsea – but will more than two months of inactivity be a concern for Southgate?
Kieran Trippier missed 10 weeks of football due to a ban by the FA over betting breaches
The Tottenham centre back has picked up an impressive 45 caps for England and looked like one of the most improved players at the start of the season when he was leading Spurs to the top of the table.
But the team’s decline in form has coincided with a dip in performances from Dier, who has transitioned from midfield to the heart of defence to mixed effect. His iffy displays at the back have brought fury from Spurs fans, while Mourinho has been forced to drop him for the last four league games.
Coincidentally, Spurs have won three of those with Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld together in defence – so Dier’s woes have come at a pretty awful time when he had looked nailed on to at least make the squad for the Euros. Will the emergence of Stones prove to be his downfall?
Eric Dier has slumped to a worrying loss of form at the back for Tottenham in recent months
Southgate included Maitland-Niles in his last England squad for November’s Nations League games against Belgium and Iceland, as well as a friendly against Republic of Ireland. He came on in the latter two games but hardly made a case for himself as a key member of the squad.
At the time he wasn’t playing regularly for Arsenal – perhaps a testament to his standing with Southgate, who will have been pleased to see the 23-year-old granted a loan switch to West Brom in January.
But you would have expected Maitland Niles – who can play in defence or midfield – to stand out more in a struggling team. He’s helped Sam Allardyce’s men keep three clean sheets since his arrival, but hasn’t done too much to perk up heads. With so much competition for places, his displays are unlikely to be enough to claim a coveted spot at Euro 2020.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles made the last England squad but his displays since haven’t been great
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