Gareth Southgate will delay his decision on the final England squad for the Euros on Tuesday, and instead will name a larger provisional group before committing to the final 26-man team.
In total, 12 potential England players are yet to finish their season because of their involvement in the Europa League and Champions League finals – three for Chelsea, four for Manchester City and potentially five for Manchester United.
With a number of injuries to key players including Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips and Nick Pope, Southgate wants to see how the players in European finals come through those games before making a final decision.
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The delay gives Southgate an extra week to ponder his options, as the UEFA deadline for squads to be formally submitted is June 1.
Even then, because of the vagaries of coronavirus, UEFA has altered its rules to allow nations to amend their squad at any stage up to their first game in the tournament.
For England, that’s June 13 against Croatia – giving Southgate a further 12 days to make changes.
More than 30 players who are awaiting a call from the England manager to see if they’ve been included will now still be wondering whether they will make the final cut when Southgate trims his squad to 26 names in a week’s time.
Who will make Southgate’s final 26-man squad?
Jordan Pickford and Dean Henderson are England’s number one and two – they’re guaranteed their places.
Nick Pope will undergo surgery on a knee problem in the next few days, and while he hasn’t been ruled out of the Euros yet, Sam Johnstone is likely to win a call-up in his place.
Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, John Stones, Eric Dier and Harry Maguire are all expected to be included, even though Maguire is likely to miss Manchester United’s Europa League final on Wednesday.
A key question mark surrounds Trent Alexander-Arnold, surprisingly left out of Southgate’s last international squad in March. Will he be included this time? Or will Southgate opt for Chelsea’s Reece James, who has featured in two of England’s last three World Cup Qualifiers?
It is unlikely there will be space in the squad for both, and while the England boss highly values Alexander-Arnold’s ability going forward and from set-pieces, he has voiced concerns in the past about his defensive form.
Similarly, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady will both be anxiously wondering if they’ve made the final cut. The injury to Maguire might mean Southgate wants extra cover at centre-back – but will he have room, even in an extended squad of 26, to include both?
Mason Mount, Declan Rice, Phil Foden and James Ward-Prowse are all guaranteed a place in the squad, as are Henderson and Phillips – now that they’ve been passed fit.
The recent fitness concerns over Rice, Henderson and Phillips make Dier’s inclusion even more probable – he’s England’s only other option in a holding midfield role, and his versatility is priceless for Southgate.
Jack Grealish, who’s recovered from a shin injury, and Bukayo Saka, who is back to form after a thigh problem, can both have strong hopes of inclusion.
The extended squad looks to have helped Borussia Dortmund’s midfielder Jude Bellingham. The 17-year-old’s energy and ability to track back as well as push forward should make him an attractive option for the England manager – especially with the injury concerns to others.
Golden-boot winning captain Harry Kane will be the first name on the team sheet for each game, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin established as his first-choice deputy. Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling are also shoe-ins for the squad, but after that, Southgate has some very difficult choices to make.
Jadon Sancho missed out on the last England squad for the World Cup Qualifiers in March, but has returned to form with Dortmund spectacularly in the latter stages of the Bundesliga season – he would feel much aggrieved if he missed out on the Euros.
But for Mason Greenwood, Jesse Lingard, Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins and Patrick Bamford it is not so simple. All five are in contention for a spot, but far from guaranteed one.
Greenwood has been out of favour with the senior squad since being sent home from Reykjavik last September for breaching coronavirus rules. But his resurgent form for Manchester United in the latter stages of the season have made a compelling case for his inclusion.
Lingard was in the last England squad two months ago, but largely because of the absence of Grealish, and Southgate said he was “lucky” to be included that time.
Ings, Watkins and Bamford are all third-choice strikers behind Kane and Calvert-Lewin, and so are perhaps most vulnerable to missing out – especially because Southgate has opted to use Rashford in a central attacking role in the past.
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