England's Euro 2020 squad: Alan Smith's reaction to Gareth Southgate's selection

Mason Greenwood, Ben Godfrey, Jesse Lingard, Aaron Ramsdale, James Ward-Prowse, Ollie Watkins, Ben White not in Gareth Southgate's England squad for Euro 2020; England begin their Euros campaign against Croatia on June 13

Bukayo Saka has four England caps after making his debut last year
Image: Bukayo Saka has four England caps after making his debut last year

Sky Sports pundit Alan Smith gives his take on the big talking points surrounding Gareth Southgate's hotly-debated 26-man England squad for Euro 2020.

Southgate had named a 33-man provisional squad last week as he waited on several key players nursing injuries but seven players were cut on UEFA's squad deadline day of June 1.

Mason Greenwood, Ben Godfrey, Jesse Lingard, Aaron Ramsdale, James Ward-Prowse, Ollie Watkins, Ben White were not in Southgate's England squad, but Bukayo Saka, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson made it.

Here, former England and Arsenal striker Alan Smith gives his verdict on the announcement, and picks his XI for the opening clash against Croatia on June 13 at Wembley.

England's 26-man squad for Euro 2020

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton).

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham).

Also See:

Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Man City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Man City).

Saka raw? Not as a footballer

Saka has become one of Arsenal's best players this season
Image: Bukayo Saka has been included in England's 26-man Euro 2020 squad

Bukayo Saka deserves to be in, given how he's performed for a poor Arsenal team at times. He has shown a lot of maturity, and a lot of versatility. That versatility has definitely helped him.

He might have been on the borderline, with Jesse Lingard missing out, but I'm glad to see him in. He's a player England will be able to use for many years to come. It is invaluable experience just to be within a camp in a tournament like this, and he will learn an awful lot.

People say he's raw, but as a footballer I don't think he is. He understands the game so well. His strengths are certainly going forward, and when he does, he has this fantastic ability to make the right decision and pick the right man out, and he's strong on both sides.

Defensively, he has played at full-back and wing-back, and still has a lot to learn on the defensive side, but he is a great talent.

Right-back debate: I'd have left Trippier out

Trent Alexander-Arnold, England (PA)
Image: Trent Alexander-Arnold also made the squad

If Southgate is picking Alexander-Arnold because he sees him as a midfielder, that is a big call. You could count the amount of times he's played in midfield for Liverpool on one hand. As talented as he is, that would be a gamble.

Southgate knew he'd be under pressure if he didn't pick Alexander-Arnold. Perhaps he didn't want to say no. Is this a weakness of Southgate's?

He's a favourite of his, it seems, but for all of his experience, I would have left Kieran Trippier at home, because you've got everything covered with the other right-backs.

It may be revealed in the tournament, or Gareth might say before the tournament that he picked Alexander-Arnold on his midfield ability. But on the face of it, it does look odd.

Five-man defence would be a big move

Gareth Southgate sees Harry Maguire as a key part of his plans for Euro 2020
Image: Harry Maguire is in a race to be fit for Euro 2020

Will Southgate play a five-man defence now? In the last three games he's picked a four, and it would be a big move now to go to a five. Perhaps he's looked at Maguire and his injury issues and felt he needs a five.

Whoever he picks, there will be a weakness there in central defence, and that could be England's Achilles heel. That's a big call for Southgate, how he lines up that defence.

There were chances against Poland, San Marino and Albania for Southgate to go back to a five-man defence, to test it out, but he didn't do that, so I would suspect he sticks with a four-man defence.

Huge ask for Henderson to play vs Croatia

Gareth Southgate is looking to include Jordan Henderson in his squad for Euro 2020
Image: Jordan Henderson is in the squad despite not playing for Liverpool since February

England would want Jordan Henderson in the squad for his leadership quality, his character and experience.

But he's not played since February. It's a huge ask to have him lining up against Croatia in 12 days. I can't see him starting in that opening game.

Declan Rice is obviously going to start - would he pair him with Kalvin Phillips if Henderson isn't fit, or does he pair him with Jude Bellingham? There is a contrast there with Rice, with Bellingham an up-and-down midfielder, and has had a brilliant season. Even as a 17-year-old he has that temperament and experience.

My starting XI vs Croatia

November 18, 2020, London, United Kingdom: Gareth Southgate manager of England during the UEFA Nations League match at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: 18th November 2020. Picture credit should read: David Klein/Sportimage(Credit Image: © David Klein/CSM via ZUMA Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
Image: Southgate's England kick off their Euro 2020 campaign against Croatia on June 13

Jordan Pickford in goal - I think he's come back into a bit of form for Everton.

Kyle Walker at right-back, with John Stones and Harry Maguire, and a toss-up between Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell, but I'll go for Luke Shaw.

In midfield, I'm assuming it's going to be Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice, with Mason Mount.

I think he'd take a draw in this game, so he will err on the side of caution with Phillips and Rice.

I'd love to see Phil Foden starting, because he's just so talented. The other side of Harry Kane is a difficult one. Maybe Marcus Rashford, but I think he'll play Foden on the right, and Raheem Sterling on the left.

Plenty of debate... but this squad is exciting

We've got an enormous amount of youthful talent, and these players won't be scared of the stage they're stepping onto, with the experience they have at club level.

Let them go with it. Our strength lies in attack rather than defence, and although you can't be gung-ho, we have to take the game to the opposition. I don't think we can afford to deploy cagey tactics, I'm not sure we're good enough for that.

We're much better when we're going forward.

Pick your England XI for opening Euro game

Gareth Southgate has named his final 26-man England squad for Euro 2020 but who would make your starting XI?

Pick and share your team for the opening match against Croatia on June 13 at Wembley.

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