England soccer choices assessed forward of squad announcement
England’s Jack Grealish during the UEFA Nations League game at Wembley Stadium, London
Carl Recine / PA Images via Getty Images
England’s No. 1 jersey is Jordan Pickford’s defeat – but now that competition is tough for Nick Pope and Dean Henderson, the Everton goalkeeper’s injury may open the door for them.
Pickford was a key figure under Southgate. His composure and range were critical to the manager’s preference for playing from behind. But his performances have been scrutinized this season and he was forced out of Everton’s 2-1 loss to Burnley on Saturday after landing awkwardly on his right.
Pope has had another strong campaign with Burnley of nine clean sheets, while Henderson has impressed since joining Manchester United instead of David de Gea and conceding just once in his last seven games . West Brom’s Sam Johnstone is on standby when Pickford is unavailable.
Sky Sports expert Jamie Carragher expects Southgate to compete with Pickford at the European Championships this summer, but believes it is Henderson, rather than Pope, who will take his place in the long run.
“I think Nick Pope would find it very difficult to ever become a regular for England because he plays for Burnley,” Carragher said on Monday night of football last week.
“I don’t mean disrespect for Sean Dyche or the club, but certainly the way she wants to play and the way Gareth Southgate wants to play is completely different.”
“If Henderson plays for Manchester United week after week and plays Champions League football at the highest level, where the pressure is as high as possible, I think this is a great opportunity for him – maybe after this tournament, because I think.” Pickford will keep his place for this. “
“If Henderson is the Manchester United goalkeeper next season, I think it will be very difficult not to select him for England.”
The resurgent Shaw is due to be recalled
On defense, the biggest talking point is Luke Shaw’s likely return to the roster. The 25-year-old has only played two games in England during Southgate’s tenure and has not been represented since his 2-1 loss to Spain in the Nations League in September 2018.
He was stellar for Manchester United that season but presented a significant attack threat from the left-back and impressed defensively as well.
With Ben Chilwell battling for season time at Chelsea, there could be an opening for Shaw not only in Southgate’s squad but also in his starting line-up.
Sky Sports expert Gary Neville feels like England’s best left-back and expects Southgate to reward his good form this season.
“He’s been brilliant for United this season,” he said on the Gary Neville podcast. “A Luke Shaw who is fit, physically good and confident is, in my opinion, the best left-back in the country.”
Read more stories from Sky Sports
“Gareth Southgate will be watching him closely and thinking, ‘I know Luke Shaw, I’ve seen him before'”. “
“He almost gave up on him but you can’t give him up now. Southgate stares straight at him thinking this is the top performing English left-back in the country right now.”
“Everything’s fine with Luke Shaw because he’s an amazing talent. He’s good physically, he’s good size and maybe the people at home are deceived that he’s actually very good in the air and playing on the left can be in the middle at the back. “
Neville compared Shaw’s return to Manchester City’s John Stones, another player likely to return to the England team for the upcoming games. However, he insists that the next challenge for both of them is to maintain consistency over the long term.
“Both of them have had the best phases of their careers, but they have to do it year after year so that we can trust that this is really the breakthrough and the moment when they move from potential to disappointment a bit, to that potential to recognize and be brilliant players in two or three seasons. “
Bellingham under for another chance for seniors
Jude Bellingham became England’s third-youngest senior player after Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott when he broke the bench in a 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland in November.
The teenager, who was 17 years and 137 days old at the time, is now facing another assignment – provided there are no problems related to Covid in connection with travel from Germany – who was removed from the last U21 squad.
His move from Birmingham City to Borussia Dortmund last summer went well. The German team was happy to give him a lot of playing time in central midfield, and the youngster showed striking performances in return. So far, he has played 21 Bundesliga games and provided three assists.
Of course, there is a lot of competition in English midfield, but with Jordan Henderson injured and Harry Winks out of favor at Tottenham, Bellingham may find that his path into the team for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers is a little clearer.
Jesse Lingard is another midfield player, albeit in a more advanced role than Bellingham.
The 28-year-old was previously a Southgate favorite and impressed during England’s run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. He lost his place in the squad when he fell out of favor at Manchester United, but his stellar form on loan at West Ham , surely brought him back to Southgate’s mind.
Lingard’s West Ham team-mate Declan Rice is hoping to improve his starting position at the base of midfield in Henderson’s absence. Like Lingard, the 22-year-old has been shining for the soaring hammers lately.
England’s Jude Bellingham warms up before the UEFA Nations League group stage match between England and Iceland at Wembley Stadium on November 18, 2020 in London.
Michael Regan / Getty Images
Southgate has chances to score
A look at this season’s Premier League goalscorers list shows the depth of attack available to Southgate. There are six English players in the division’s top 10 scorers and nine in all who have scored nine or more goals.
Two of them are unavailable with Jamie Vardy, who has retired from international service, and Callum Wilson, who is out with a knee injury. However, in the order of Premier League goals scored this season, Southgate can still draw on Harry Kane, Dominic, Calvert-Lewin, Patrick Bamford, Ollie Watkins, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Harvey Barnes.
There is also Jadon Sancho, who has scored 12 goals for Dortmund this season, and others like Danny Ings, Tammy Abraham and Michail Antonio who also hope to be in the manager’s mind.
Southgate can’t pick them all, of course – even if attacking midfielders Jack Grealish and James Maddison are unlikely to be available – but he’ll make his pick when he knows there is enough talent in reserve – and between now and today Much can change the euro this summer.
What do the statistics say?
As Southgate prepares to name its squad, we’ve put together an England XI from the stats-based Sky Sports Power Rankings this season – and there are some surprises in store.
In goal, Burnley stopper Pope deserves a starting place between the sticks in front of the current England No. 1 Pickford according to statistics.
Five Manchester Club defenders are in the top 7 of the Power Rankings – but West Ham’s Michael Keane and Aaron Cresswell are pushing their way into the XI.
Keane is narrowly ahead of Stones, who pays the price for playing fewer minutes than the Everton center-back, but Cresswell secures his place as a left-back ahead of Shaw – reinforced by his seven league shooters.
The stats show a redesigned midfield, with Southampton’s workhorse James Ward-Prowse claiming a starting spot midway on either side of Mount and Leicester playmaker Maddison.
There’s a growing fluidity in the broad midfield and striker roles, and Foxe’s starlet Barnes is on the edge of selection in both areas, while Rice Ward-Prowse is just behind in terms of the holding role.
At the front, Kane and Grealish rank as England’s top performers this season and guarantee themselves places in our XI. Rashford takes last place on the right – ahead of Sterling.
Our stats-based XI is limited to Premier League players, but if we took other leagues into account, Rangers trios James Tavernier, Connor Goldson and Ryan Kent would make the team based on their performances in the Scottish Premier League this season.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney would secure a spot on the English bench as a substitute for Kane thanks to his eye-catching performance in the championship, while Jadon Sancho would be one of the substitutes, which would put him in shape at Borussia Dortmund this season for a spot in the Starting grid.