Damian Szymanski has headed in a stoppage time equaliser as Poland drew 1-1 with England to end the visitors’ perfect record in World Cup qualifying Group I.
The European Championships are fast approaching, and no team is being talked about more than the Three Lions.
With tremendous depth in every position, it is difficult to imagine what 26 players Gareth Southgate is going to take on the plane.
Will he take his out-of-form but experienced defenders like Kieran Trippier and Eric Dier? Or will he make room for younger, more in-form players such as Jude Bellingham and Fikayo Tomori?
Here is how England’s squad should shape up for the tournament.
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope
Perhaps the easiest selection here are the keepers. Only West Brom’s Sam Johnstone offers realistic competition to any of these three keepers. Pickford hasn’t been in the greatest form, but his experience in major tournaments will guarantee him a spot on this team.
Full backs: Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell
While the left-back selection here is a breeze, England have been known for their unbelievable depth at the right-back position. Reece James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kieran Trippier, and even Matty Cash all deserve consideration for the spots. Kyle Walker is a lock for this team, playing for a defensively outstanding Man City team this year, but Alexander-Arnold has been in bad form. However, his unique attacking ability warrants his spot as Walker’s back-up, as he could be a key player off the bench, as compared to the more defensively inclined James and Wan-Bissaka.
Centre backs: Harry Maguire, John Stones, Conor Coady, Fikayo Tomori
Maguire and Stones are at the moment locks to partner each other during the majority of the tournament. The latter has had an impressive bounce-back year with Manchester City, cementing his spot in the team. Conor Coady has been the anchor of a solid Wolves defence for years now, and his leadership and ability in the air lands him the first back-up spot. For the last spot, Tomori gets in as a wildcard. After starting the season barely playing for Chelsea, he has been incredible on his loan move with AC Milan. Due to players outside of the Premier League typically being overlooked, he has not got the recognition he deserves. Tyrone Mings, Ben Godfrey, and Ezri Konsa also deserve consideration.
Central midfielders: Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips, James Ward-Prowse
Had the squad list not been increased to 26, it would have been a difficult decision, and some of these names would have had to be left off the list. Rice, Bellingham and Mount have been playing brilliantly this season, and their young age means they will only get better. Henderson comes in as an important leadership presence, and will help to mentor players like Phillips and Ward-Prowse. Ward-Prowse could be extremely useful for any dead-ball situations, and Phillips could be useful for defending a lead late in the game.
Attacking midfielders/wingers: Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Jesse Lingard
This is the area where England have tremendous depth, and it makes selection extremely difficult. Foden, Rashford, and Grealish all make their way into the squad due to their incredible form. Sterling has been quite poor of late, but still earns a selection due to experience and pedigree.
Sancho endured a tough start to this season, but has been brilliant since January, and his quality means he must be selected. Therefore, there is only one more spot in the squad for this position. James Maddison has been brilliant for most of this season, and the same can be said of Bukayo Saka. However, the blistering form of Jesse Lingard, combined with his experience for England at the World Cup in Russia, means he takes the hotly contested spot.
Strikers: Harry Kane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Ings
England’s striker conundrum only applies for the back-ups, as the incredible Harry Kane will be starting as captain. Four main players compete for the two back-up spots, but Calvert-Lewin and Ings narrowly edge Ollie Watkins and Patrick Bamford. Calvert-Lewin is quite essential as he is an aerial threat who could be extremely useful off the bench. Ings makes it over Watkins by the slightest of margins due to Watkins’ inexperience. He only has one season of top-flight football under his belt, and only one cap for his country. Ings is also a much better finisher, which is more important than the hold-up ability of Watkins. Mason Greenwood has also been terrific in the last few weeks, but this form has perhaps come too late for a call-up.
Sam Johnstone, Reece James, Ezri Konsa, Tyrone Mings, Ben Godfrey, James Maddison, Bukayo Saka, Harvey Barnes (injured), Ollie Watkins, Patrick Bamford, Mason Greenwood.