Gareth Southgate has decided to delay naming his final England squad for Euro 2020 after a late change of heart and will instead wait until 1 June before trimming the group to 26 players.
England’s manager has seen his plans complicated by the involvement of English clubs in the Champions League and Europa League finals this week, and he wants time to assess players who have been struggling with injuries. Southgate is set to name a provisional squad at 1pm on Tuesday, with the number involved potentially exceeding 30. It will give Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold a chance to win over the manager with his position in the final cut under threat.
England have concerns over a few key players before their opening game against Croatia at Wembley on 13 June. Harry Maguire is out of Manchester United’s Europa League final against Villarreal on Wednesdaybecause of damaged ankle ligaments, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has just returned from a long-term groin injury and the Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope is to have knee surgery three weeks before the tournament. Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips is also a doubt after suffering a shoulder injury against West Brom on Sunday.
Southgate has bought himself time with his U-turn. He will not want to be without Maguire, one of his most important defenders, and he values Henderson’s leadership. Although Henderson has not played since February, the Liverpool captain is one of England’s most experienced players.
With Henderson building match sharpness, Southgate could have done without Phillips going off. Leeds issued a positive update on the midfielder but it remains to be seen whether he will be available on 13 June. England are also unlikely to field their strongest side in warm-up matches against Austria on 2 June and Romania on 6 June in Middlesbrough because of Southgate’s desire to give players a week’s break after their club seasons.
After United’s game against Villarreal, the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City takes place in Porto on Saturday. The tight schedule means that United’s Dean Henderson, Luke Shaw, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford will miss the Austria game, and players from City and Chelsea are doubtful for the visit from Romania. Southgate has Kyle Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling at City and Reece James, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount at Chelsea.
Southgate is expected to bulk up his squad by including fringe players today. That could give players such as Danny Ings, Bukayo Saka, Ollie Watkins, Eric Dier, Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane and Jesse Lingard a chance to catch the manager’s eye. He could add to the numbers at training by summoning members of England’s Under-21 squad.
The main talking point will be whether Southgate risks a public backlash by leaving out Alexander-Arnold. The widespread expectation is that the Liverpool right-back will be the most high-profile omission from the final squad, even though the 22-year-old’s improved form during the run-in played a pivotal role in his club qualifying for the Champions League. Southgate is edging towards picking Walker, James and Atlético Madrid’s Kieran Trippier instead. However James’s place is not certain.