On Sunday, England will play Croatia in an important match at Wembley Stadium, kicking off their much awaited Euro 2020 campaign.
Gareth Southgate’s side will be eager to get off to the best possible start on home soil, with the Three Lions among the heavily predicted favourites for this summer’s European showpiece.
Southgate has some difficult selection selections as England looks to get off to a strong start in a tournament where winning the three-match group stage is crucial.
Given Harry Maguire’s fitness difficulties, the Three Lions head coach has recently opted for a back four and is likely to stick with that defensive scheme.
Due to the withdrawal of Trent Alexander-Arnold due to a thigh injury, Brighton & Hove Albion centre-back Ben White was called up – and might even play.
With Jordan Henderson’s fitness in doubt, Kalvin Phillips and Jude Bellingham, who play farther forward and in the middle of midfield, might get the nod with Declan Rice and Mason Mount.
— England (@England) June 11, 2021
With England talisman and captain Harry Kane’s spot in the starting line-up guaranteed, Southgate also has at his disposal the attacking prowess of Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Phil Foden.
Here, we take a look at who Southgate is likely to choose as his opening starting team.
How we predict England will line up
Line-up:Pickford; Walker, Stones, Mings, Shaw; Phillips, Rice, Mount; Foden, Rashford, Kane.
We think this is the most likely line-up based on Southgate’s choices in previous competitive games and friendlies. The obvious loser is Jack Grealish, which won’t please fans but Southgate isn’t one to pander to fans desires.
That said, how would England line-up with Grealish in the side?
How England could line-up if Grealish plays
Line-up:Pickford; Walker, Stones, White/Mings, Shaw; Rice, Phillips; Foden, Mount, Grealish; Kane.
If Southgate decides to play the Aston Villa man, a 4-2-3-1 formation seems the most likely option. In our side we have Mount playing as one of the front four, but it’s possible he could play in the midfield two as a more attacking option. Neither Rashford nor Sterling makes this team, but moving Mount into midfield would make space for one of the pacy forwards in the front four.
It’s an exciting line-up, but one Southgate seems unlikely deploy without the experience of Maguire at the back.
How England could line-up with three at the back
Line-up:Pickford; Walker, Stones, Mings; Trippier, Chilwell; Rice, Mount; Foden, Rashford, Kane
Southgate’s other option is to play a three at the back, which he may favour due to Maguire’s injury. This means playing Chilwell and Trippier was wingbacks and Walker in the back three. Reports suggest Shaw and Reece James played in a back three during practice sessions, though it’s likely this was purely to familiarise them to the formation should they be called upon due to injuries.
England’s squad in full
Goalkeepers:Dean Henderson, Sam Johnstone, Jordan Pickford
Defenders:Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Ben White, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Midfielders:Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice
Forwards:Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling
Another day done 💪
The countdown to Croatia continues! pic.twitter.com/sD0SGBrFbv
— England (@England) June 10, 2021