Who should England boss Gareth Southgate be picking on form?

Gareth Southgate claims Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips will play for England because they lack depth… but is that true? SofaScore ratings show who should REALLY play for the Three Lions instead of them… and it may surprise you!

  • Gareth Southgate has remained loyal to certain stars in his latest England squad
  • Injuries will expose a lack of strength in depth in certain important positions
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast It’s All Kicking Off 

England will have Euro 2024 qualification within their grasp if they make it five wins out of five against Ukraine in the Polish city of Wroclaw on Saturday night.

Ever since Gareth Southgate’s men ground out a 2-1 win away to Italy in Naples back in March, they have been in total control of qualifying Group C.

Their June double-header saw them turn on the style and rack up the goals as Malta were thrashed 4-0 and North Macedonia demolished 7-0.

At the mid-point in qualifying, England can look forward to next year’s tournament in Germany with confidence.

But the perennial issue is whether the Three Lions boast enough squad depth to go all the way and lift the major trophy that has eluded generations of England teams since 1966.

England have cruised their way through Euro 2024 qualifying so far, with four wins from four

Gareth Southgate will still have doubts over whether his squad has enough strength in depth

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Southgate’s latest squad left out Raheem Sterling, an England stalwart for many years now, in a possible indication of an embarrassment of riches in wide attacking areas.

Even when Manchester City star Jack Grealish was forced to withdraw from the squad with a thigh injury, there was no urgency to recall Sterling in his place.

This current group has convened without the injured Tyrone Mings, John Stones and Luke Shaw, while Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, listed as one of England’s midfield selections, also had to withdraw.

Also absent are the likes of Reece James, Eric Dier, Conor Coady, Mason Mount and James Ward-Prowse – all regular picks in recent years.

Yet England’s squad to face Ukraine and then Scotland in a friendly next Tuesday still looks plenty strong enough on paper.

Scratch beneath the surface, however, and Southgate may face problems in the lack of game time Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips will receive this season, with favoured options ahead of them at their clubs.

Likewise, there will be concern over the level of football Jordan Henderson is now experiencing in the Saudi Pro League with Al-Ettifaq and whether it’s adequate to keep pace with Europe’s best players next summer.

A Sofascore best-rated England XI from the opening matches of the season simultaneously highlights the depth they have and also what will be missing in Wroclaw.

Harry Maguire is trusted by Southgate and continues to start for England despite barely playing for his club Manchester United

Kalvin Phillips doesn’t feature much for Manchester City but plays – and scores – for England

Raheem Sterling was a surprise omission from the latest England squad after good form

Grealish, Shaw and Ward-Prowse all feature. Of course the injuries to Shaw and Grealish are unfortunate but both will hopefully be fit and firing when the real business starts at the Euros.

The fact Ward-Prowse was left out despite a very positive start to life at West Ham – one goal, three assists in three games – raised a few eyebrows as his form suggests he should be in England’s team.

But Ward-Prowse has stiff competition from the likes of Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice, who are in just as good, if not better, form, and Southgate favourites like Henderson and Phillips.

With Alexander-Arnold capable of playing in midfield, as he did in June’s qualifiers, and the likes of Mount and Conor Gallagher also possibilities, England absolutely should not be short in there.

Phillips’ lack of game time for City has cleared the way for Bellingham, who looks right at home as a Real Madrid player, to come in as a regular starter.

James Ward-Prowse has started well for West Ham but was overlooked for the England squad

Jude Bellingham will be in England’s side for the long-term and is excelling at Real Madrid

Southgate needs assurances Jordan Henderson is playing at a high enough level in Saudi

In attack, England are certainly blessed. Harry Kane has already made a strong impression following his £100m move to Bayern Munich though all of England will be praying their captain stays fit for Euro 2024.

That’s because Kane’s centre forward understudy isn’t entirely obvious. Ivan Toney had manoeuvred himself into prime position but we don’t know how he’ll return after his betting ban.

Callum Wilson is in the squad this time but doesn’t start games for Newcastle, while Tammy Abraham has suffered a serious ACL injury. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has dropped out of the picture and Mason Greenwood likely won’t now be Kane’s long-term successor.

Eddie Nketiah will hopefully get a bit of time on the pitch to win his first cap and show what he can do.

On the left, the absence of Grealish barely matters when you can bring in Marcus Rashford or Phil Foden, but England are quite reliant on Bukayo Saka to play on the right. Luckily, he’s been in good form for a long time now.

Harry Kane has made an encouraging start to life at Bayern Munich after his £100m move

Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah (left) may get a chance to prove he can be Kane’s understudy 

James Maddison looks more and more likely to shoehorn himself into the England line-up after a strong start to life at Tottenham, while Eberechi Eze will be hopeful of winning a second cap.

So England do boast considerable depth in those attacking areas – or at least when everyone is available. They certainly haven’t struggled for goals in this qualifying campaign though, as ever, any injury to Kane will be disastrous.

Defence could be more problematic. Southgate has stuck to the Maguire-Stones centre back combination for a long time but one is out injured at the moment and the other has played just 23 minutes of football this season.

Maguire received more love from the England fans inside Old Trafford in June’s win over North Macedonia than he had from United supporters all season.

Despite Erik ten Hag relegating him down United’s pecking order, Maguire has completed England’s last eight games and started the last 10. In fairness, he seldom lets England down.

You suspect that run of starts will continue but with Marc Guehi alongside him. The Palace man is picked by Sofascore on form, albeit alongside Arsenal’s Ben White, who was passed over for an England squad once again.

Sofascore say Marc Guehi deserves to start for England after his good Crystal Palace form

Arsenal’s Ben White deserves to play alongside Guehi at the back, according to the form guide

Sheffield United’s Wes Foderingham is the best-performing English goalkeeper this season

Meanwhile, Fikayo Tomori, Lewis Dunk and Levi Colwill are all queuing up for opportunities and central defensive depth apparently isn’t an issue.

Ben Chilwell had dropped below Shaw in the England left back stakes ever since the last Euros but will likely come back in this week.

Left back has been a problem position for depth in the past, with right backs sometimes switching across.

Sofascore suggests Kieran Trippier should get the nod on the right side, with Kyle Walker another strong candidate.

It’s in goal where the real surprise comes, however. Jordan Pickford has been Southgate’s undisputed No 1 for pretty much all of his tenure and is likely to remain so ahead of Aaron Ramsdale and Sam Johnstone, despite Everton’s travails.

But Sofascore suggest that Sheffield United’s Wes Foderingham, never picked for England, should have the gloves on early season form.

Now that would be strength in depth!


Courtesy of Sofascore 


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