How England could line up at Euro 2021 with changes in midfield and in goal

The postponement of Euro 2020 has given England boss Gareth Southgate a little more time to consider the many options he has at his disposal.

He is certainly not short of talent, with a host of exciting young players and more experienced pros to choose from.

Southgate handed debuts and first starts to several players as his side beat Wales 3-0 on Thursday night, and impressive displays from the likes of Jack Grealish and Dominic Calvert-Lewin could mean there are some tough decisions to make ahead of next summer.

With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at how England could line up come the start of next year’s European Championship.

This is, of course, based on recent performances. Things could look very different after another full season.

GK: Nick Pope

Jordan Pickford might have made one mistake too many. Southgate clearly likes the Everton goalkeeper, which is unsurprising given his performances at the World Cup two years ago.

He was a standout performer in that tournament, but has since become error-prone and inconsistent, even if he is better with the ball at his feet than the alternatives.

Still, Pope impressed against Wales and, with a few more appearances to his name, could push Pickford out of Southgate’s starting XI. England can’t really afford to concede sloppy goals because of avoidable mistakes when it comes to the knockout stage of Euro 2020 (which is what UEFA insist we still call it).

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold

A year from now, Alexander-Arnold will still only be 22, which is remarkable given the reputation he has already established for himself.

He is among the best full-backs in the world, an indispensable player in a Liverpool team that stormed to the Premier League title.

Kyle Walker might still have hopes of making the position his own, but his sending-off against Iceland in the Nations League a month ago and his inconsistency in the Premier League – at least compared to Alexander-Arnold – will have damaged his chances.

He has already been dropped once by Southgate, and Alexander-Arnold, almost a decade younger than Walker, is the future at right-back.

CB: Harry Maguire

Assuming he has put the Greece debacle behind him by next summer, Maguire will probably be one of the first names on the team sheet.

An experienced, imposing presence at the back, he will offer valuable leadership in what is likely to be a young team.

His form for Manchester United early in the season has been questionable, but for England there have been no such problems.

And he is a Southgate favourite, too, having impressed throughout the 2018 World Cup.

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CB: Joe Gomez

Eric Dier will probably have other plans, but at the moment it is going to be difficult for Southgate to leave Gomez out.

Yes, he made an error that almost cost England the game against Iceland last month. And yes, he is still relatively unproven when playing in a team that doesn’t include the domineering presence of Virgil van Dijk (he was also in the Liverpool back four that bizarrely shipped seven goals against Aston Villa last weekend).

But Gomez has been consistently excellent for Liverpool over the last couple of years and could form a formidable partnership with Maguire.

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LB: Ben Chilwell

Left-back is one of the positions where things are not so certain. Luke Shaw will have aspirations of making the position his own ahead of Euro 2021.

But Chilwell should, in a few months, be best placed to take that spot in Southgate’s team. Aside from his failure to follow coronavirus regulations – which could keep him out of the upcoming Nations League fixtures – the new Chelsea signing has started the season well.

He scored on his first start for the Blues, lashing home from close range against Crystal Palace. And he is probably the most well-rounded of the left-backs currently at Southgate’s disposal.

DM: Declan Rice

Rice is only 21 but plays with the maturity of someone 10 years older. And it’s clear that Southgate is an admirer.

The West Ham youngster provides defensive solidity in front of the back four, no surprise given he has the instincts of a centre-back. His excellent range of passing makes him a perfect fit for the pivot role, too.

With more creative players in front of him, Rice should thrive.

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CM: Jordan Henderson

Henderson’s recent list of achievements can’t be ignored: Premier League Player of the Year last season; guiding Liverpool to an emphatic title win as captain; lifting the Champions League trophy.

With 55 caps to his name, the midfielder has experienced plenty as an international footballer.

He could be one of the few players in the national team over the age of 30 next summer, and the level-headedness he brings to the side will be important.

CM: Jack Grealish

It has taken Grealish some time to break into the England setup, but he has taken full advantage of the opportunity.

The Villa midfielder was superb against Wales on Thursday night, offering dynamism and creativity in midfield against organised opposition. He provided the assist for Calvert-Lewin’s goal, floating an inch-perfect cross into the box.

Grealish offers something that very few other English midfielders do, and that might earn him a place in the starting XI next summer.

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RW: Jadon Sancho

The man of the moment, the player Manchester United are desperate to sign, and one of the brightest young talents in Europe.

Sancho will be even better in a year, and that is a frightening prospect for defenders at Euro 2021.

There is something intriguing about the 20-year-old. That he has been playing abroad in Germany means there is an unfamiliarity about him to many England fans.

Those who have watched him regularly know how talented he is, though, and he looks almost certain to be a regular England starter for years to come.

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LW: Raheem Sterling

Southgate is spoilt for choice in terms of attacking options. Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood will expect to be in the picture, but they are behind both Sancho and Sterling as things stand.

The latter is now, without doubt, one of the best players in Europe, and arguably the biggest name in this England team.

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ST: Harry Kane

Kane did not have the most productive season in 2019/20 – largely due to injuries – but there were signs towards the end of the campaign that he was rediscovering his best form. And he has started the new campaign superbly, scoring goals and creating them too.

A goalscorer of his calibre can’t be left out. Danny Ings deserves a place in the squad, and Calvert-Lewin is in prolific form at the moment. But both might find themselves acting as backup options if Kane is fit next summer.

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