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5 key considerations for England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2024

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 27 Mar 2024

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Gareth Southgate will name his provisional squad for Euro 2024 on May 21 as he looks to lead England to glory in Germany.

While domestic football returns to the fore this weekend, Southgate has plenty to ponder after the March international break saw England lose to Brazil and secure a last-gasp 2-2 draw with Belgium.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key considerations for Southgate before a ball is kicked in Germany.

Injury worries

Southgate was unable to call on a host of injured players for the Brazil and Belgium fixtures, while more were then forced to pull out during the camp. Captain and all-time leading goalscorer Harry Kane and reigning England player of the year Bukayo Saka were among them, but it was defensively where Southgate’s squad was hardest hit. The defence which ended the game against Belgium did not contain a single player who would arguably be in the side to face Serbia in England’s Euro 2024 opener, so Southgate will be closely monitoring the fitness of the likes of Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker and John Stones.

Forward thinking

An ankle injury saw Kane miss the Brazil defeat before he returned to Bayern Munich for treatment. The England skipper will no doubt be the main man through the middle this summer, fitness permitting, but the job of supporting role is another which could go to the wire. Only Erling Haaland has scored more than the 16 Premier League goals notched by Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins so far this season, while Ivan Toney marked his first England start with a goal from the penalty spot against Belgium and those two seem to be battling it out for the back-up role across the remainder of the campaign.

The Mainoo man

All things being equal, there are not many places up for grabs in Southgate’s preferred starting XI. But the third member of a midfield trio which will no doubt include Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham is a spot that will be considered by Southgate and his coaching staff in the coming months. Manchester United teenager Kobbie Mainoo shone on his full debut against Belgium, while Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Maddison – to name but a few – will all have hopes of impressing Southgate sufficiently enough to earn the shirt.

High-profile absentees?

It would have seemed ludicrous last summer to suggest treble-winning Manchester City forward Jack Grealish could miss out on a place at the Euros. Fitness, form and a lack of minutes this season, however, could see the £100million man fall between the cracks of Southgate’s squad, especially with the fierce competition in the wide areas. The same could be said of Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, a long-time favourite of Southgate, but who played just 15 minutes across both March friendlies and is another whose inconsistencies at club level could cost him dear.

The future

Southgate’s own future has already been the subject of much speculation. His current deal with the Football Association runs until the end of the year and he has already been linked with the top job at Manchester United. Southgate, however, has stressed he will not speak to any interested parties until after Euro 2024 and branded the United reports “completely disrespectful” to Erik ten Hag. “I’ve got one job, basically, to try and deliver a European Championship,” he said.

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