It’s been a heady week for English Football after back to back nights of European thrillers put four Premier League clubs into the Champions & Europa League finals. England manager Gareth Southgate expressed his delight for those Liverpool and Tottenham players who will compete for club football’s ultimate prize, but conceded it will leave him with a dilemma as he plots England’s assault on the Nations League Finals.
England will face Holland in the semi finals just three days after Liverpool’s tussle with Spurs in Madrid. Southgate must decide how many players involved in the European finals to include in his squad for Portugal and then decide which of those players can be put in the first eleven to face the Dutch.
There could be as many as nine England players involved in the Champions League Final and an additional two playing in the Europa League Final. England would have a full six days after the Europa Final in Baku to work with Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek ahead of their clash with Holland and that won’t represent a significant issue, whilst nobody from Arsenal is likely to be in Southgate’s squad.
Liverpool trio Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson are possible inclusions although Alexander-Arnold and Gomez are unlikely to start. From Tottenham Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Eric Dier and Dele Alli are all likely starters both for club and possibly country. Then there’s injured duo Harry’s Kane and Winks, both hopeful of making it into Spurs match day plans after injury.
With a potential final just four days on from the semifinals, Southgate may look to minimise the number of Liverpool and Spurs players in his semifinal lineup.
Rose would appear the only defender in line for the England start so Southgate would likely opt instead for Leicester’s Ben Chilwell. There will be two England right-backs in the Champions League Final but Southgate’s first choice remains Manchester City’s Kyle Walker. It’ll be Harry Maguire & John Stones in central defence with Gomez possibly left out to continue building up his fitness and go to the Euro Under 21s.
Then in the midfield holding role Declan Rice should start ahead of Dier regardless of Dier’a late arrival in the squad. Alongside Rice, Southgate could go with Henderson, Alli or Winks. But Winks is another returning from injury and may be left outand Southgate has alternatives in Fabian Delph or James Ward-Prowse. In the attacking midfield role Alli is again an option but Barkley looks favourite after his splendid displays in the Euro qualifiers.
Upfront Harry Kane’s status as captain means he will travel but for both club and country is more likely to be an option off the bench, as he attempts to recover his match sharpness. That leaves England with Marcus Rashford in the centre flanked by Raheem Sterling and either Jadon Sancho or Jesse Lingard. It’s also worth remembering England’s opponents have similar Champions League issues, Dutch duo Virgil Van Dyke and Georginio Wijnaldum will also play for Liverpool in Madrid. It underlined the point Southgate made that these are nice problems to have, just ask Tottenham’s Belgian contingent who’ll be going from the Champions League to Euro 2020 qualifiers in June.
Youngsters Italia Bound
Southgate has often called on the age group squads for replacement talent, most recently Callum Hudson-Odoi. However Aidy Boothroyd’s Under 21s are heading to the European Championships and Southgate will be reluctant to further hamper Boothroyd who will almost certainly be without Rashford, Sancho and Alexander-Arnold. There will inevitably be calls for Phil Foden to go to the Nations, now he’s getting Premier League starts for Manchester City. Others with cases for the seniors include Aaron Wan-Bissaka, James Maddison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin. England haven’t won the Euro Under 21s since 1984 and are keen to complete their set of aged restricted tournament successes that began with the Under 20 World Cup win.
England will also be sending an Under 20s side to the Toulon Tournament. Paul Simpson will take charge of an England squad looking to win a fourth straight Toulon Tournament. With three summer squads to fill this June, England have a busy month ahead and realistic hopes of adding more trophies.
Possible England Nations League Squad: Pickford, Butland, Heaton, Walker, Trippier, Alexander-Arnold, Rose, Chilwell, Maguire, Stones, Keane, Rice, Dier, Henderson, Alli, Loftus-Cheek, Barkley, Kane (c), Rashford, Sterling, Lingard, Wilson, Sancho
Possible England Euro Under 21s Squad: Henderson, Gunn, Woodman, Wan-Bissaka, Kenny, Walker-Peters, Gomez, Tomori, Fry, Clarke-Slater, Winks, Davis, Choudhury, Dowell, Foden, Maddison, Barnes, Sessegnon, Lookman, Solanke, Abraham, Calvert-Lewin, Gray
Possible England Toulon Tournament Squad: Austin, Balcombe, Schofield, Dasilva, Kelly, James, Chalobah, Pearce, Edwards, Oxford, Viera, Mount, Wilock, Field, Shackleton, Skipp, Godfrey, Nketiah, Nmecha, McNeil, Clarke, Nelson, Diangana
Image Credits: Getty, Daily Mirror