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Gareth Southgate’s Euros Selection Headache (Part One): Who Should Make the Final England Squad?


With the Euros just around the corner, Gareth Southgate will have to trim his squad down to 26 in a matter of weeks, so who will he axe, who should stay and will it be enough for England to lift the trophy?


During his eight-year tenure as England head coach, very few squad selections have gone down as well as the provisional squad for this summer’s European Championships. Finally, Southgate has given the boot to several of his most loyal servants, in favour of young and in-form prospects, breathing confidence into the nation.


Southgate has often preached about choosing the most in-form players over loyalty, but now it seems he has finally lived up to that promise. In a provisional 33-man squad, you’d have expected the likes of Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips and Marcus Rashford to feature, given their recent contributions to their country.



But there have been so many good performances that Southgate simply could not ignore, with the reaction to his squad more of surprise than anguish, the majority backing his selections.


Soon, however, 33 must become 26, and it’s likely that the ex-England defender won’t be as popular when that day arrives, so who should he axe, who will make the cut, and what will he actually do?



Goalkeepers


The easiest choice Southgate has is surely making four goalkeepers three, and dropping James Trafford. How he has even made the cut seems baffling, with large sections of the Burnley fanbase overwhelmingly blaming Trafford and manager Vincent Kompany for their relegation.


Trafford for England and Kompany for Bayern? Football rewarding failure.



A far better selection who has actually received plaudits this season would have been Jack Butland. No one really knows how seriously to take the Scottish Premiership but Butland has certainly impressed this season, playing in every league game as Rangers’ poor finish saw them miss out on the title.



Butland has been around England setups before and would likely have made more of an impact than Trafford, with it seeming the FA and Southgate have favoured youth and the future over the present.


Anyhow, Butland probably wouldn’t have made the final three regardless, so I’d expect Southgate to drop Trafford and hand boarding passes to Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale.


Defenders


Perhaps the weakest area of the squad at the moment, not helped by a field of ageing pros and injuries. There’s no doubt over a few: Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Harry Maguire and John Stones would be many people’s starting back four — that quartet looks set in stone.



Luke Shaw is head and shoulders above any other England left-back but is very likely to miss the tournament due to injury. There’s a chance he makes the latter stages, should England make it there, but it would be daft to expect someone who hasn’t played since February to guide the country to its first Euros title. He’d be out for me.



That means that versatility is key for the rest, and Southgate has that in abundance. Of the six remaining central defenders, Jarrad Branthwaite is the only left-footer and has possibly performed the best. It’s certainly time he got his chance.


Marc Guehi returned from injury to play Crystal Palace’s final three and is, in my opinion, fourth choice by far. His composure and pace fit the mould of an England centre back, and he could certainly be the Three Lions’ next John Stones, so I’d be taking him.


Joe Gomez and Ezri Konsa can both play across the backline and have done with class, so it’s a toss-up between them. Konsa has had the better season and Gomez can play left back, doing so in the absence of Andy Robertson this season, so I’d be taking both, given there’s a few more spaces in the 26-man squad.



Lewis Dunk proved why he isn’t international standard in England’s recent friendly against Belgium, and Brighton have been woeful this year, so dropping Dunk seems an easy choice, and it just looks too early for Jarrell Quansah.



So, I’d be axing Shaw, Dunk and Quansah, but a bit of me thinks Southgate might risk Shaw and may prefer the experience of Dunk over someone like Guehi or Branthwaite.


Check back for part two tomorrow, where the battle intensifies for places in England’s midfield and attacking positions!


My dropped players: Trafford, Dunk, Shaw, Quansah.


Predicted dropped players: Trafford, Guehi, Quansah.





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