Euro 2024: ' writers pick their 23-player England squad for Germany

by 24britishtvMarch 27, 2024, 3 p.m. 19
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Who makes England's squad for Euro 2024 this summer? The Sky Sports football writers make their selections...

England have played their final matches before Gareth Southgate names his preliminary squad for Euro 2024.

Who will make the cut? The Sky Sports football writers have had their say!

Read on to see who they've chosen and why, then use our team selector to pick YOUR 23-player England squad for Germany...
• Euro 2024 fixtures, schedule, groups, venues: All you need to know
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With Jordan Pickford clear No 1, in-form Jack Butland brings experience to the training group and U21 Euros winner James Trafford can gain know-how for the future.

In defence flexibility is key, with Levi Colwill and Joe Gomez able to provide cover for the first-choice backline and allowing a space to be saved for another attacker. Luke Shaw's fitness, unfortunately, can't be trusted.

Like Trafford, a Euros trip will be a useful building block for future regular Kobbie Mainoo - although he could play a bigger role than that after his display against Belgium - while Eberechi Eze and James Maddison can provide a creative spark off the bench.

There are an abundance of attacking options but I've made space for both Ollie Watkins and penalty king Ivan Toney to give options should the unthinkable happen to Harry Kane.

This squad would fill me with excitement and anticipation in equal measure.

Provided they are all fit, the back five now picks itself. The only question mark is over the fitness of Luke Shaw at left-back. Ben Chilwell must show he is waiting to seize his opportunity.

In midfield, there are question marks over the third member to play alongside Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice. Kobbie Mainoo is a superstar in the making and is a forward-thinking pick over Kalvin Phillips or Jordan Henderson, who have played themselves out of consideration.

In the forward areas, there is a shoot-out between Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney but the former deserves his place deputising for Harry Kane. Jarrod Bowen and Anthony Gordon have both been in superior form to Marcus Rashford but the Manchester United man's tournament experience gives him the edge.

Gareth Southgate can't make such an exception for Jack Grealish, who has been anonymous since Manchester City's treble success. Cole Palmer is a wildcard that doesn't feel such a gamble with each passing display.

Joe Shread: Time's up for Henderson and Maguire

The 'they've never let England down' argument just doesn't wash. Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson aren't playing at the requisite level to justify a place in England's squad.

Instead of Maguire, John Stones should be the lynchpin of the defence, with Levi Colwill or Jarrad Branthwaite alongside. Kyle Walker should start as England's best all-round right-back, with Trent Alexander-Arnold's versatility moving him ahead of the injury-prone Reece James and the fading Kieran Trippier.

At the base of midfield, Declan Rice should be joined not by Henderson, but by either the impressive Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo or Ruben Loftus-Cheek - who's been overlooked for far too long.

The attack picks itself, with Harry Kane flanked by Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden. Ivan Toney edges out Ollie Watkins, while Cole Palmer simply has to be part of the squad. Anthony Gordon and Jarrod Bowen are unfortunate to miss out, while Jack Grealish's poor form and injury status should leave him way down the pecking order.

Zinny Boswell: Mainoo has to be included

If you're good enough, you're old enough. Kobbie Mainoo simply has to be included, but Trent Alexander-Arnold would be my first choice in a midfield three with Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice. Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips haven't done enough.

One last dance for Harry Maguire and John Stones as a centre-back partnership. Luke Shaw and Reece James miss out because of injuries, while Joe Gomez and Ezri Konsa are selected because of their versatility. Levi Colwill is just pipped by Jarrad Branthwaite.

Ivan Toney is in ahead of Ollie Watkins solely for his penalty-taking ability. Harry Kane should play almost every minute of this tournament, so the back-up has to deliver from the spot. Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden are locked in on the wings, with Cole Palmer ahead of Marcus Rashford in my thinking.

Oliver Yew: Toney over Watkins in battle to be Kane's understudy

Ivan Toney wins the race to be Harry Kane's understudy. It's harsh on the excellent Ollie Watkins but with space in a 23-player squad limited, Toney's goal-scoring performance against Belgium gets him over the line. He provides a more physical alternative to the England skipper and his ability from the penalty spot helps.

There's space for the in-form Cole Palmer, while Jarrod Bowen's direct style provides a different option from the bench with Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden locked in on the wings. Jack Grealish's injury problems this season see him miss out.

In midfield, Kobbie Mainoo's impressive performance against Belgium is rewarded. Trent Alexander-Arnold, although named as a defender in this squad, provides valuable versatility and is a live option to start in midfield alongside Rice and Jude Bellingham. Key Southgate lieutenants Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips miss out with question marks surrounding their form.

At the back, the combination of John Stones and Harry Maguire receive another chance at a major tournament, and they are supported by Joe Gomez and Jarrad Branthwaite, who just edges out Levi Colwill. At full-back, Kyle Walker is supported by Alexander-Arnold and Gomez, while Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw - fitness depending - get the nod at left-back. Kieran Trippier also misses out after a difficult season with Newcastle.

Marcus Rashford will almost certainly go to Germany, but he wouldn't be on my plane after such a poor season for Manchester United. Anthony Gordon has had another strong season for Newcastle, has a similar profile and deserves a chance to impress after his cameos against Brazil and Belgium.

Gareth Southgate's embarrassment of riches gives him the luxury of taking only seven out-and-out defenders, since Trent Alexander-Arnold can easily fill in at right-back.

Ben Chilwell struggled against Brazil and Joe Gomez has deputised well on the left for Liverpool this season. That extra body elsewhere would allow England to take both Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney to give them the widest possible range of options should they need a goal - or a penalty.

I said the same thing last summer when we were asked to select our starting XI for England's Euro 2024 opener. Yes, it's probably unimaginative. But, as much as people will question it, I would be inclined to say Gareth Southgate will stick with his 'old guard' - barring the out-of-form Kalvin Phillips - for the most part. One final hurrah.

Kobbie Mainoo has impressed sufficiently to earn a spot on the plane to Germany, too. The experience of being at a major tournament at 18 will be valuable enough - let's just hope he doesn't become this summer's Theo Walcott at the 2006 World Cup.

In addressing Luke Shaw's fitness issues, Southgate has suggested the left-back will be going to the tournament, but said it's 'highly unlikely' he would be able to play every match if England reach the final. If he's not fit to make it in the end, it goes without saying that Ben Chilwell goes in his place.

And, like some of my colleagues, I would suggest both Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney will make the squad. Toney's presence and penalty-taking qualities could be valuable when called upon, while Watkins has had too good a season not to be rewarded for it.

I, like Southgate, am banking on the likes of Nick Pope, Luke Shaw and Reece James all returning to full fitness in time for the tournament, hence why Joe Gomez has been added as a Swiss Army-type of player to cover all positions in defence.

There is always one player who makes a late bolt into the squad and that is Man Utd's precious midfielder Kobbie Mainoo, who provides a youthful back-up option in the middle of the park to the first-choice trio of Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

However, it is in attack where the hardest calls have been made as both Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney are cut in favour of pacy wide forwards Anthony Gordon - who shone in defeat against Brazil - and the recalled Raheem Sterling. They are game-changers off the bench, while Marcus Rashford provides cover for Harry Kane as the lone central striker.

Sam Blitz: Watkins to miss out - Mainoo could start

For me, Ollie Watkins misses out. The Aston Villa striker has been in top form this season but is just too similar to Harry Kane in terms of profile. This No 9 back-up role requires something different coming off the bench and Ivan Toney is that. Watkins has had plenty of England chances over the years and barely impressed when given the spotlight.

Kobbie Mainoo is finally in the building and should stay there - and not just as back-up. He could realistically start against Serbia in the first game after showing great composure in the last two games. Let's not forget Marc Guehi deputised brilliantly in John Stones' absence last November - he's on the plane.

Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford should be in for experience to make up for Toney and Cole Palmer coming in. Jarrod Bowen and Ben Chilwell - if Luke Shaw is fit and firing - are desperately unlucky not to make this cut. Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson less so.

I do wonder if Kyle Walker's starting XI race is finally run. His form has dipped, Trent Alexander-Arnold is largely unfancied by Gareth Southgate - so Kieran Trippier could start at right-back.

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