England’s set off on their path to Euro 2020 this week as Gareth Southgate attempts to keep the feel-good feeling in the country going after an incredible World Cup last summer. Now, attention is turning to the future and the Three Lions will attempt to get their hands on an international trophy this summer, as they take part in the finals of the Nations League.
However, we are looking ahead past this year to Euro 2020 when the team should be ready to have a real crack at winning a tournament. Here is what the starting XI could look like.
GK - Jordan Pickford
Pickford has not had a good season for Everton but he is likely to be trusted as England’s number one for the next couple of years, given Southgate's lack of quality options in this position. If Angus Gunn at Southampton can make the starting place his own on the south coast he should be in with a shout whilst elsewhere Dean Henderson at Sheffield United is having a fantastic season, on loan from Manchester United.
RB - Trent Alexander-Arnold
We have switched to four at the back here to pack more attacking talent into the team and Trent Alexander-Arnold has got the nod at right-back. This seems to be a position in which Southgate has heaps of class, with Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier also fighting for this position but since he stopped savin chat, TAA has taken things to the next level with Liverpool. It is difficult to think of a better right-back in world football right now.
CB - Harry Maguire
If Slabhead wants to play, he plays. He is still one of the top centre-backs in the Premier League and we know Southgate likes a ball-playing defender, which Maguire certainly is. He is also up for a battle with physical forwards making him a perfect fit.
CB - John Stones
The Barnsley Beckenbauer should be a fixture in this England team for several years to come. Him and Maguire had a good partnership at the World Cup and the two should continue their spell together at the heart of the defence. Solid.
LB - Ben Chilwell
Left-back is a tough one for England. Danny Rose, Luke Shaw and Ryan Bertrand have all had a go in recent years but you have to say, this season, the best English left-back has probably been Ben Chilwell of Leicester. He is now pressing to be the first choice for Southgate and at just 22, he has plenty of time to develop.
CM - Jordan Henderson
He is not a popular midfielder but year after year Henderson proves he is one of England’s best central midfielders. Hard work and commitment are needed in the middle of the pitch and Henderson’s record with England is excellent. Dependable and rugged, Henderson has taken things up a level with Liverpool over the past two seasons. An unpopular choice perhaps, over Tottenham duo Harry Winks and Dele Alli, but he is in.
CM - Declan Rice
England have need a holding midfielder with positional ability, class and an ability to take the ball under pressure. Eric Dier just is not the man for this system and England had few other options, so they stole one from Ireland. 20-years-old and another youthful talent, Rice can step up to the plate over the next 18 months and make himself unpickable.
CM - James Maddison
Maddison for some reason has been ignored for the latest England squad despite creating more chances than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues. England are desperate for a creative midfielder and he has been excellent for Leicester this season but he does still have room to improve, especially with his physicality. Southgate probably knows best and next year it would not be a surprise to see Maddison in England’s starting XI. Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is another potential option for this role.
RW - Raheem Sterling
One of the best players this season for England. Sterling is now one of the best forwards in the world and this front three really picks itself. Pep Guardiola has taken Sterling up a level and he is now a serious attacking threat for Southgate’s disposal.
ST - Harry Kane
Captain. Leader. Legend. Should have passed to Raheem in July. Will let that go once we win the 2022 World Cup. Keep it up ‘Arry.
LW - Marcus Rashford
Manchester United are starting to see the best of Marcus Rashford again under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and he is another young English talent for Southgate to get the best out of. This really is an exciting front line for England and although Rashford would probably prefer to play centrally, his ability to cut in from the left, combined with Sterling on the other wing, makes it an easy job to slot him in this position.
SUBS: Gunn, Walker, Shaw, Alli, Winks, Sancho, Wilson