Euro 2020 is just 20 weeks away, the last stretch for players to stake their claim as to why they deserve a spot in England’s 23-man squad. Of course, injuries allowing, the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho are givens in Gareth Southgate’s team. However, there are plenty of other players that are in with a fighting chance of being named in the squad if they keep up their good form. Here are five players making a late claim to be involved in the England squad during Euro 2020.
5 players who could make the Euro 2020 England squad
John Stones (Manchester City)
Manchester City’s recent upturn of form can be pointed to one man in particular: John Stones. The centre-back has returned to the Cityzens back line and made an instant impact, forming a solid partnership with summer-signing Ruben Dias.
Since Stones’ return to the Premier League, City have kept seven clean sheets in their last eight games and conceded just one goal – Stones has also scored twice. The former Barnsley man has been a composed head in defence and great in the air, as well as being a competent addition to the passing football that City play.
England aren’t particularly blessed in the centre-back department and no defender has fully cemented themself as a partner for Harry Maguire yet, who Southgate is known to be a big fan of. With Maguire not being the best with his feet or the fastest, he will need a partner whose strengths lie in those departments. That may well be Stones and, if his great form continues, he looks a shoo in to force his way into the England squad again in time for Euro 2020.
West Ham currently sit in seventh-place, just two points behind last year’s Premier League winners Liverpool. David Moyes has constructed a side that is able to threaten the top teams and grind out wins against relegation-battling sides. Summer signings Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal have been great since their arrivals, but one player in particular has been superb for West Ham – Michail Antonio.
The striker has been the Hammers’ saviour in the past two seasons, scoring plenty of goals and being Moyes’ only reliable goalscorer. Antonio is strong, pacey and lethal in front of goal, capable of playing as a lone striker or on the wing. In previous seasons, Antonio has also been deployed in defence and in midfield. The former Nottingham Forest striker is great at holding up the ball and bringing wide players into the game, which has allowed West Ham to counter-attack so frequently this season.
Of course, England have several forwards who are ready to compete for a place in the 23-man squad. The likes of Tammy Abraham, Danny Ings and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have all been included in recent international squads, but none of them are in electric form regularly (mainly due to injuries). Kane will always be the Three Lions’ first choice striker, but when England are chasing the game they might just need that creative presence in the box, which could be Antonio.
Leicester City are mounting another surprsing title challenge as they go after their second Premier League crown in five years, and a lot of that is down to the English talent that Brendan Rodgers has to work with. The English attacking trio of Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes have all been in great form individually this season, and as a collective they’ve been even better.
If Vardy wasn’t retired from international football then he’d certainly be second-choice to Kane up top and Maddison has to compete with Jack Grealish and Phil Foden for a spot in Southgate’s midfield. However, Barnes is in such unignorable form that he could easily push some top names out of the frames and force his way in the England squad for Euro 2020/
The Leicester City academy product is incredibly quick and that speed means he is capable of sharp and direct runs that slice defences open. The winger is good with both feet and also clinical in front of goal, scoring six goals in 18 appearances so far this campaign. Barnes has bags of energy too and is always back in the defensive third tracking his man and trying to help out the Foxes defence.
Wingers is certainly the positions that will be giving Southgate a headache. Sterling, Sancho and Marcus Rashford are all front-runners to play on either side, and Grealish too if he is seen as a wide player. But the cover in those positions is weak and if any of them were to become injured then there needs to be a ready replacement, which could be Barnes. He has only played 12 minutes of international football in his career but if he continues in the scintillating form that he is in then he’s hard to look past.
Brighton’s centre-back was the name on every top club’s lips in the summer transfer window, and this season he has shown why. The 23-year-old has been a standout figure for the Seagulls this season and the silver lining to their sub-par campaign so far. The former Leeds loanee has shown composure, defensive awareness and that he can spot a pass, which has meant he is at home in the possession-based football that Brighton play.
Graham Potter has deployed White as a centre-back, a defensive midfielder and in both wingback positions so far this season, and he hasn’t looked out of place in any of them. In Brighton’s three-man defence White is given the licence to roam forward, which has seen him improve massively. His time spent in midfield have been promising too, allowing him to get into the box on occasions and also be creative in the final third.
Southgate may be tempted to pick White based on both his recent performances and also his versatility. The defender could definitely ‘pick up the slack’ from Maguire in a two-man defence, or if Southgate opts for a three-man defence, like in the 2018 World Cup, then White would be a serious consideration. Additionally, Kalvin Phillips has been quite underwhelming this season and Jordan Henderson has been injury-prone so it would be no surprise to see him lining up in midfield alongside Declan Rice.
In previous seasons, it has been easy to label Crystal Palace as a ‘one man team’, in reference to Wilfried Zaha. However, that has no longer the case since the arrival of Eberechi Eze, who has taken some of the spotlight away from the Eagles star man. The creative midfielder has been brilliant for Roy Hodgson’s team since joining for £17million from Queens Park Rangers.
Eze’s stats of two goals and two assists don’t tell the entire story of the midfielders season so far. The 22-year-old has both halved Zaha’s workload in the final third and also been the link between midfield and forwards for Palace. Eze is sharp, has brilliant control and isn’t afraid to shoot, with all three of those attributes being shown in abundance with his ‘Goal of the Season’ contender against Sheffield United a few weeks ago.
Eze is versatile and can play centrally or out wide, so, like White, he could be a wise pick for Southgate if he is looking to cover several positions with one player. The midfielder, of Nigerian descent, is competing with Maddison, Grealish and Foden for a spot centrally but it would only take a single injury for Eze to be within touching distance of the 23-man squad.