With a young group of players, as well as a manager who seems to be adept at getting a sense of cohesion like few of his predecessors, most pundits agree that the sky is the limit for the current England team. Indeed, when we look at the squad of young players, as well as those knocking at the door, it seems there is room for this side to improve. And, make no mistake – England are already one of the best sides in international football.
Of course, many fans will feel that they have been robbed of the chance of seeing the team compete this summer at Euro 2020. England, perhaps surprisingly to some, were the favourites for Euro 2020, and they will likely be tipped again to win in 2021 by the experts in the MansionBet Euro 2021 Blog. Why? Because this young team will be a year older and wiser. And, England will also have home advantage throughout. But what will the team look like in the opening game against Croatia on 13th June 2021 at Wembley Stadium?
The team doesn’t pick itself, and that’s arguably a good thing for manager Gareth Southgate. He has selection headaches all over the pitch, most notably within his stacked forward line. Below we try to reason out how the starting XI* might look when England go for glory next summer.
*For the record, we believe Southgate will opt for a fluid 4-3-3 system, similar to the one that Manchester United are playing right now.
GK – Jordan Pickford
A lot of pundits believe Pickford might get scalped in favour of someone like Dean Henderson or Nick Pope. But the Everton man has the experience and the talents to put his shaky form behind him. As long as Pickford does not have a disaster in the 2020/21 Premier League season, he will get the nod from Southgate. His competitors – Henderson, Pope and Tom Heaton – have five caps between them. Southgate will opt for experience.
RB – Trent Alexander-Arnold
The best right-back in world football right now. We really don’t need to say much more than that.
CB – Harry Maguire
The United captain has his flaws, but he is a sure hand for both club and country. Nothing flashy, but he is just so dependable that it makes sense for Southgate to make him an anchor of England’s defence. Playing in a quickly-improving United team won’t hurt either.
CB – Joe Gomez
John Stones might be the preferred option for some, but we believe the Liverpool man will get the nod. Stones’ problem is not Gareth Southgate but Pep Guardiola, with the City boss not giving him as much game time as he would like. Gomez has quietly become one of the Premier League’s best defenders, and he’ll complement Maguire in the heart of England’s defence.
LB – Luke Shaw
The first pick that feels a bit controversial. Shaw has been one of the most improved players in the Premier League over the last year. He is also comfortable when playing on the left of a back three, which could give Alexander-Arnold the chance to rove forward against weaker opposition. Ben Chilwell will push Shaw all the way for a starting place, however.
CM – Jordan Henderson
The Liverpool captain is a fine player; one who tends to keep play ticking over. His role is often underappreciated, but he has a similar skill set to players like Michael Carrick and, at times, Xavi Hernadez. Rarely, in the headlines, Liverpool fans wouldn’t swap him for anyone. He will start in England’s midfield next summer.
CM – James Maddison
Maddison’s starting berth depends on Southgate’s tactics, but he should complement Henderson well, and we believe the pair will give a nice platform for the rest of the forward players to shine. Maddison can pop up with the odd goal when making run from deep, too, which will obviously help his case.
OM – Mason Mount
A big call here. The Chelsea youngster is becoming a fine player, and he will have to continue that development to keep the likes of Dele Alli from taking his place. A lot depends on his continued high level of performances for Chelsea, but we believe Frank Lampard sees much in his former Derby County colleague. He’s good enough to be a game-changer for England.
RW – Raheem Sterling
Sterling is comfortable playing on either the right or left frank, or even playing a central role. But we think Southgate will try to use him on the right, pushing out Jadon Sancho in the process. This could be a big tournament for Sterling; one where the collective sports media finally realises he is a world-class player.
LW – Marcus Rashford
A player who has quickly grown into an icon, and it’s easy to forget that Rashford is still just 22-years-old. He is becoming a leader at Manchester United, and he can form part of a potent three-pronged attack for England next summer. A potential tournament winner.
CF – Harry Kane
It’s hard to believe that Harry Kane is not certain of a starting place, such is the glut of quality forwards at Southgate’s disposal. However, barring injury, Kane will provide the focal point of England’s attack and continue his inevitable journey towards becoming his country’s top goal scorer in history.