WITH England’s qualifying programme for Euro 2024 now completed, thoughts have turned to next summer’s finals in Germany.

Gareth Southgate will have to submit a 23-man squad ahead of the start of the tournament in mid-June – who should get a ticket on the plane?


IN: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale

MISSING OUT: Sam Johnstone

The Northern Echo: England goalkeeper Jordan PickfordEngland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (Image: PA)

Jordan Pickford remains England’s undisputed number one, and while he might well continue to have ups and downs with Everton in the remainder of the season, the Wearsider has proven himself as a reliable performer on the international stage.

Quite why Nick Pope has dropped out of the picture in the last few months is hard to fathom – yes, the Newcastle United goalkeeper occasionally lacks polish playing out from the back, but he is a superb shot-stopper who has excelled in the Champions League this season. He should be heading to Germany as England’s number two.

Aaron Ramsdale’s lack of game time with Arsenal is a worry, but his limited international experience nevertheless gets him the nod ahead of Sam Johnstone as the third goalkeeper.


IN: Ben Chilwell, Lewis Dunk, Marc Guehi, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker

MISSING OUT: Levi Colwill, Reece James, Rico Lewis, Fikayo Tomori, Ben White

The Northern Echo: England defender Harry MaguireEngland defender Harry Maguire (Image: PA)

What on earth should England do with Harry Maguire? The Manchester United defender was all at sea again in Monday’s win over North Macedonia, conceding possession in dangerous areas on at least a couple of occasions and proving extremely fortunate not to concede a first-half penalty when he panicked after giving the ball away.

It can definitely be argued that he has become a liability, but the alternative options at centre-half hardly make huge appeal and he tends to play better when he has the steadying presence of John Stones alongside him. For all the understandable concerns, I’d probably still start with Maguire alongside Stones in England’s group opener next summer.

The one player who could make me change my mind is Lewis Dunk, who has come on in leaps and bounds with Brighton over the last few seasons. Dunk was excellent in September’s win over Scotland, with his distribution from the back one of his biggest assets. Perhaps by the end of the season, it will be him as the best bet alongside Stones. Marc Guehi just beats Fikayo Tomori to the final centre-half spot.

Kyle Walker is a nailed-on pick at right-back, as is Kieran Trippier, who can play on the right or left of the back four. Luke Shaw is the number one left-back provided he regains full fitness soon, which leaves the final full-back slot to go to either Ben Chilwell or Reece James.

Both have had injury issues, and Trippier’s positional versatility means Southgate could go with three right-backs and just one natural left-back if he wanted to. Even so, I think Chilwell would be more likely to get significant game time than James, hence I’d go with him.


IN: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jude Bellingham, James Maddison, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse

MISSING OUT: Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Cole Palmer

The Northern Echo: England midfielder Jude BellinghamEngland midfielder Jude Bellingham (Image: PA)

Jude Bellingham is competing with Harry Kane to be the first name on the England team sheet, and the Real Madrid midfielder would walk into any squad in world football. The same is probably true of Declan Rice, who is a guaranteed starter in Germany provided he is fit and available.

Trent Alexander-Arnold appears to have reinvented himself as an international midfielder in the last 12 months, and he adds an interesting new dimension to Southgate’s midfield mix. James Maddison missed out on this week’s matches through injury, but has nevertheless elevated himself to the position of a guaranteed pick in the last few months.

Does Kalvin Phillips deserve a place in the squad? Perhaps not given his lack of involvement with Manchester City in the last couple of seasons, although that could change if he was to leave the Etihad in January. Whatever happens though, England need defensive-midfield cover for Rice, and playing or not, Phillips remains the best bet.

Jordan Henderson? The time has surely now come to wave goodbye to the Wearsider. His Saudi move should have ushered him into the international sunset, and James Ward-Prowse’s set-piece expertise makes him a much more valuable squad member. Conor Gallagher is improving with Chelsea, but hasn’t done enough yet to secure a place.


IN: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Ollie Watkins

MISSING OUT: Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Eddie Nketiah, Ivan Toney, Marcus Rashford, Callum Wilson

The Northern Echo: England captain Harry KaneEngland captain Harry Kane (Image: Nick Potts/PA Wire)

Harry Kane’s place is clearly not up for discussion, nor is that of Bukayo Saka or the Manchester City pair of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, for all that the latter is yet to really convince at international level.

Who would be Kane’s replacement if something was to happen to the England skipper? It would be something of a nightmare scenario whatever, but Ollie Watkins has just about done enough in the first three months of the season to force himself ahead of Callum Wilson in the pecking order. The Newcastle striker’s injury record is clearly another factor, and reluctantly, I’d leave him off the plane.

Ivan Toney doesn’t make the squad at the minute, but perhaps that could change if he was to hit the ground running when he returns in the second half of the season.

The final spot is a controversial one. I don’t really know why Southgate has dropped Raheem Sterling when he was England’s best player at the last Euros and has been showing improved form with Chelsea this season.

He’s certainly playing much better than Marcus Rashford at the moment, hence why I’d leave the Manchester United man out of the squad. Rashford hasn’t been anywhere near his best for a year or so now – unless that changes dramatically, I’d be leaving him at home.