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England squad announcement: Southgate reflects on ‘complicated’ selection

Injuries and uncertainty have influence Gareth Southgate's selection of a 33-man provisional party for the finals in Germany

Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate remained philosophical about the injury concerns which are hanging over the England camp as they prepare for the European Championships.

Southgate named a provisional squad of 33 players – including 12 who have two caps of fewer for England – with many of them insurance against injuries in the camp proving worse than feared.

Of the expected starters, only Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden currently have a clean bill of health, with many of their squad-mates having missed weeks – in some cases, months – during the closing stages of the season.

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Southgate said: “Everybody has a chance. There are definitely some players who we wanted to see. The reason for the longer squad – we were in a similar situation before the last Euro – is that more time is going to [help us] make better decisions and might us get a better balanced squad.

“There are some very obvious and apparent injury issues. There are some more nuanced that we don’t have all the information on. Sometimes you have to work with players and see how they react to training.

“This has been as complicated a group as I can remember picking, and we have had quite a few complicated ones.

“We can make better decisions by giving ourselves more time – and we have got time.”

Southgate admits it’s a long shot for Manchester United full-back Luke Shaw to make the final party after another season blighted by injury, although Newcastle United’s Kieran Trippier, who often fills the left-back role, has also been sidelined until recently.

Southgate admitted: “There is a lot to think about over the next couple of weeks. I’d have loved it to be cleaner and more definitive but it’s not the situation we’re in.

“We’ve never had so many unknown situations. We’ve had tournaments where we’ve taken a players knowing they will be back for a certain moment. We’re used to dealing with it.”

England Euro squad: Southgate hopes for clarity

England must submit their final 26-man squad on the night of June 7 and Southgate said: “If we picked tomorrow, we might end up taking a dozen defenders because we have so many questions.

“In a couple of weeks, hopefully we’ll be much clearer on a number of issues.”

With the likes of uncapped Adam Wharton, Curtis Jones, Jarell Quansah and Jarrad Branthwaite joining twice-capped Ezri Konsa, Kobbie Mainoo, Anthony Gordon, Cole Palmer and Eberechi Eze in the party, only five have more than 50 caps – Pickford, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Walker and Harry Kane.

“Clearly, you’d like to have experienced players,” accepted Southgate. “It’s still possible that we can play in a way that we’d have that.

“We need to see some of the younger guys as well. They have had good seasons, we can learn more about them. We feel they are the best players at this moment to fulfil the roles we are talking about.”

One of the biggest discussion points has been how to incorporate stars such as Foden, Bukayo Saka, Bellingham and Palmer into the same team behind Kane.

Many expect Foden to be asked to adopt a role on the left – unfamiliar to the one he fills for Manchester City, winning Premier League Player of the Season last week.

Southgate said: “Phil has played off the right, off the left. The key with Phil is where he ends up, not his starting position. He’s been allowed to drift for Man City.

“It’s about where these players arrive and where they are allowed to drift to that’s key. The players will tell you we never pin them to the touchline.

“There is this freedom. You want Phil in those central areas, as you do with one or two others. We have to find the best way of making that happen.”

Given the wealth of talent – particularly attacking – at their disposal, England are among the favourites for glory this summer.

“There’s no doubt what’s possible,” Southgate acknowledged. “The team have been very close before, so they know what’s possible. You’ve got to do it game by game.”

Picture of Alex Hoad

Alex Hoad

Alex has more than 15 years' experience in sports journalism and has reported on multiple Olympics, World Cups and European Championships in additional to Champions League, Europa League and domestic football.