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England's Euro 2024 squad analysis: Gareth Southgate gets bold and rips up left side - but who fills Harry Maguire void?

As England's 26-man final squad for Euro 2024 is confirmed, the Sky Sports writers assess some of the major talking points, including Southgate's boldness and whether Crystal Palace's Marc Guehi is the man to replace the injured Harry Maguire

England manager Gareth Southgate will head to Germany without Jack Grealish and Harry Maguire
Image: England manager Gareth Southgate will head to Germany without Jack Grealish and Harry Maguire

Southgate finally gets bold with big calls

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England manager Gareth Southgate discusses the reasons behind some of the omissions from his 26-man squad for Euro 2024.

Marcus Rashford's omission from the provisional squad was the first clue that Gareth Southgate might be approaching this tournament differently. Now we know it for sure.

There was a perception that young newcomers such as Adam Wharton would be the ones to make way when the squad was cut to 26. Instead, there have been high-profile casualties.

James Maddison's omission, having been, in his words, a "mainstay" during England's qualifying campaign was another big call and it was followed by an even bigger one as Jack Grealish, fresh from an impressive cameo against Bosnia and Herzegovina, was axed as well.

In Rashford, the frozen-out Raheem Sterling, Grealish and Maddison, Southgate has chosen to go without an attacking quartet with a combined total of 185 England caps and 39 goals.

There are changes afoot in midfield, too. Gone are Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips, to whom Southgate was criticised for remaining loyal, replaced by the next generation.

Now we are wondering whether Kobbie Mainoo or Wharton might complete the central three alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham. Trent Alexander-Arnold, once shunned for his perceived defensive deficiencies, has been embraced as another midfield option.

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Harry Maguire's omission is not by choice. His calf injury has done for him. But his omission, added to those of so many other big names, adds to the fresh feel of this England squad. Southgate has changed tack. To many, this boldness is overdue.
Nick Wright

Southgate rips up England's left-hand side

England's Jack Grealish waves at the end of an international friendly soccer match between England and Bosnia and Herzegovina at St. James Park in Newcastle, England, Monday, June 3, 2024. England won 3-0. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Image: Jack Grealish has missed out on a place at Euro 2024

In the 2022 World Cup, Gareth Southgate took four left-wing options: Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford, James Maddison and Jack Grealish. Now just one remains for this summer's Euros.

Rashford and Grealish both played and scored for England in Qatar. They were key players for the Three Lions at the last Euros which saw them reach the final. But Rashford was left out of the provisional squad due to not having a good enough season, and it appears Grealish has fallen to the same fate.

Now it leaves Foden, the Premier League Player of the Season, as the clear frontrunner to start on that left-hand side in Germany, and Southgate hinted last month that the Manchester City attacker will be allowed to drift inside.

But if England need a natural left-winger then it will be Anthony Gordon and Eberechi Eze that Southgate will call upon. Both made first England starts in that position recently and both impressed.

England have options at left wing and it's the same at left-back. Luke Shaw reportedly being fit enough is a boost but, just like at Euro 2020, Kieran Trippier may have to start the tournament in that role to allow England's first-choice left-back to recover. Joe Gomez is the backline defensive utility man as emergency cover.

Will a brand new left flank bring a change in England's fortunes at major tournaments?
Sam Blitz

Who takes final midfield spot?

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a superb second on the volley from a tight angle
Image: Is Trent Alexander-Arnold the midfield solution for England?

Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are expected to be part of a three-man England midfield, but Southgate is overloaded with options for the remaining spot.

Phil Foden's scintillating season playing in a free role for Manchester City has increased calls for him to be utilised in the same way. Foden, though, has often featured on the left for England, yet with Eberechi Eze and Anthony Gordon on the plane, perhaps he is lined up to play in the middle.

The same applies to Cole Palmer, who likes to drift inside from the right, but may be seen by Southgate as cover for Bukayo Saka along with Jarrod Bowen.

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England's Declan Rice says there's no bitterness from the players left out of Gareth Southgate's final 26-player squad.

New-look England as 13 stars cut

Exactly half of the players in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have not been included in his England squad for Euro 2024, only a year and a half later.

The unlucky 13 are: Harry Maguire, Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Nick Pope, Kalvin Phillips, Eric Dier, Conor Coady, Mason Mount, Ben White, Callum Wilson, James Maddison.

Southgate has experimented with Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield and he shone against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday. However, the right-back is untested in major tournaments.

Conor Gallagher can play further forward through the middle, but he appears to be a direct replacement for the energetic No 8 role that Jordan Henderson used to deliver alongside Rice - one that Southgate could always rely on.

Then there are the new kids on the block to consider: Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton. Both bring a calmness in possession. Their inclusions could be a watching brief for future tournaments.

Without doubt, Southgate has a solution for every eventuality.
David Richardson

Watkins and Toney a surprise

Ollie Watkins was denied with an early opportunity
Image: Ollie Watkins started against Bosnia and Herzegovina

A key question since the turn of the year had been whether there would be space for both Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney in England's squad for Euro 2024.

In March, ahead of the friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, even Southgate wasn't sure. Asked whether there would be space for both this summer, Southgate said: "Maybe, maybe not. I genuinely don't know the answer to that. That will depend on what kind of profile we need, what the profiles of the rest of the squad [members] are, whether we need a couple of players that are adaptable in a couple of positions and we can pick specialists in certain other positions."

However, with squads extended to 26 players, both will now feature as understudies to captain Harry Kane, giving England a number of differing options in Germany.

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Gareth Southgate explains the reasons behind the inclusion Harry Kane, Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney in his final 26-player Euro 2024 squad.

Toney's goal-scoring performance against Belgium obviously left a big impression on Southgate. After some strong showings for Brentford in the early weeks after his return from an eight-month ban, the goals did dry up for the 28-year-old, who failed to score in his last seven Premier League outings.

He is more of a like-for-like replacement should anything happen to Kane, but he does also provide a physical alternative to the Bayern Munich striker. His quality from the penalty spot is also a good option to have with shootouts potentially around the corner.

In the end, Watkins' pace and his goal-scoring prowess also made him difficult to leave out. His 19 goals this season helped propel Aston Villa into the Champions League, and that form has rightly been rewarded.

Southgate has gone for variety in attack and that could be crucial with the target a deep, deep run at this tournament.
Oliver Yew

Guehi to fill Maguire void?

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Sky Sports News' senior reporter Rob Dorsett provides an update on England's Euro 2024 squad as Jack Grealish and Harry Maguire are omitted

Harry Maguire's unavailability for the tournament is a significant blow for Southgate, who has remained loyal to the Manchester United defender even through his toughest periods.

The England boss has avoided the nightmare scenario of not having John Stones available either, with the Manchester City man having returned from a spell out for the FA Cup final.

But he has a major decision to make on who partners him and the leading candidate appears to be Crystal Palace's Marc Guehi, who has already seen off competition from fellow left-sided centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite, the final player to be cut from the provisional list.

Guehi, like Stones, has only recently returned from injury having been sidelined by a knee problem in the second half of the campaign but he got the nod alongside Lewis Dunk against Bosnia and Herzegovina, winning his 10th senior cap under Southgate, a number which reflects his standing.

Dunk, by contrast, only has six caps. Guehi beats Aston Villa's Ezri Konsa (three caps) for experience too. Joe Gomez, meanwhile, although more experienced, with 14 caps, appears more likely to be used as a back-up full-back having played there all season for Liverpool.

Southgate loves Guehi's understated style and has spoken glowingly of his temperament. "He has played with great maturity," he said after starts against Ukraine and Scotland in October.

"At times he might not catch the eye in the way some other players do because he's in the right place, so he's not having to turn and cover for something that's gone wrong. He's a very calm player, positionally excellent, composed with the ball, and with a very good mentality."

The hope for Southgate is that, in the absence of Maguire, all of those qualities will shine through on the stage of a major tournament.
Nick Wright

Bowen hits bullseye after Qatar snub

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Jarrod Bowen spoke to Sky Sports after playing in the 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Of course [not being selected for the World Cup] makes me want it more."

You could see the desire in Jarrod Bowen's eyes when he delivered that statement to Sky Sports News after England's 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday.

Bowen was first capped by Gareth Southgate in June 2022, but missed out on selection for that winter's World Cup in Qatar.

The West Ham forward added: "I don't know if I'm a better player, but I'm just more mature as a player and I think that comes with age, with the games that you play and confidence you gain from every opportunity you have here [with England]."

But he's off to Germany - ousting some serious talents in Jack Grealish and James Maddison to get his chance at a major tournament. He deserves it too after kicking on again with West Ham.

Following his winning goal in the Europa Conference League final for the Hammers a year ago, Bowen has scored 20 goals this campaign and grabbed 10 assists. In a very inconsistent team, Bowen has remained consistent. He offers England an alternative option to Bukayo Saka coming from the right flank.
Lewis Jones

Daring Wharton deserves his place

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Declan Rice heaps praise on England teammate Adam Wharton after the Crystal Palace midfielder made Gareth Southgate's 26-player Euro 2024 squad.

"I like the fact he sees pictures early, he plays forward."

When Gareth Southgate said those words, you had the feeling he would pick Adam Wharton in his final England squad.

The 20-year-old's England debut against Bosnia and Herzegovina showed exactly what the Crystal Palace midfielder can bring. He completed all 38 of his passes - but crucially, 32 per cent of them were forward.

Wharton is not a player who simply passes and plays it safe. He plays through the lines and unlocks defences. Against Bosnia and Herzegovina, a stunning first-time outside-of-the-boot cross nearly found Jarrod Bowen for a tap-in. This young man dares.

The young midfielder likely won't start for England in Germany but Southgate knows that if he needs a player to find the missing ingredient when chasing a lead or playing a low-block defence, then Wharton is that player.

And can he handle the pressure? Well recent history shows he can. Wharton excelled as Palace stunned Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield two months ago, provoking Jamie Carragher to call him "outstanding" and a "real standout".

Wharton is on the brink of a breakout summer.
Sam Blitz

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