Who will be the 23 men representing the Three Lions this summer?

There is now less than 100 days until the European Championship kicks off in France, and England’s young lions will be bidding to win the tournament for the first time. Following the meteoric rise of Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, Jack Butland and several others, Roy Hodgson has some difficult decisions to face when picking his 23 man team in May. Here’s a run through of who we can expect to see travelling to France in June.

Goalkeepers:

Joe Hart faces competition for his number one jersey for arguably the first time since he’s been involved in the squad. Jack Butland has been superb for Stoke all season and fans of teams up and down the country have called for him to be given a chance between the posts. Fraser Forster has also impressed for Southampton after coming back from a
lengthy injury lay-off last month. Forster kept four consecutive clean sheets after returning to the team and if he continues will surely do enough to convince Roy Hodgson of a place as one of his three keepers.

Joe Hart
Will Joe Hart’s number one status be threatened?

Predicted to make the squad:

Joe Hart (Manchester City), Jack Butland (Stoke City), Fraser Forster (Southampton)

Right-backs:

Nathaniel Clyne has had a solid season first season for Liverpool and is likely to line up on the right side of the defence. Clyne possesses both incredible pace and power as well as being equally capable of fulfilling defensive and attacking duties. Kyle Walker has shown glimpses of the form that won him the PFA Young Player award in 2012 and has done enough to nail down his place in the squad. He was described by his Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino yesterday as a “vital” part of Tottenham’s incredible rise this year. He will certainly run Clyne close for the right back spot.

Predicted to make the squad:

Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)

Centre-backs:

Despite Chelsea’s troubles this season, Gary Cahill is a certainty as England’s first choice centre-back. Following the departure of Jose Mourinho, Cahill looks back to his old self and will certainly be crossing the channel to France in June. Chris Smalling has had an impressive season for Manchester United and team mate Phil Jones is likely to join him as part of the 23-man party. Hodgson admires both defenders with one of Jones’ major pluses being his versatility which could see him push up to midfield or play anywhere alongside the defence if necessary.

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Part of the England team for years to come?

The final choice, and perhaps the most exciting is Everton’s John Stones. Stones offers something that is very rarely seen with English centre-half’s past and present and that is ability on the ball. Stones feels confident with the ball at his feet, a trait possessed by many European centre-backs and the prospect of a Stones-Cahill defensive partnership has excited many England fans, myself included.

Predicted to make the squad:

Gary Cahill (Chelsea), John Stones (Everton), Phil Jones & Chris Smalling (Manchester United)

Left-backs:

Leighton Baines has had an disappointing season for Everton at the wrong time. The 31 year-old had been England’s undisputed first choice left-back since Ashley Cole left the side, but now it looks as though he won’t even be in the squad for the Euro’s. His poor form has come at a time when England is blessed for competition for the left-back slot. Ryan Bertrand has had a superb season for Southampton, Danny Rose has looked sharp for Spurs and Hodgson’s preferred choice Luke Shaw is coming back from injury. Both Jon Flanagan and Kieran Gibbs have also been on the fringes of England’s squad in recent times, meaning competition for places could not be fiercer. This position is completely up for grabs and with a lot of football to be played this season, it’s difficult to say who will travel to France.

Predicted to make the squad:

Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)

Defensive midfielders:

The main area where England’s team is lacking at the moment is in the centre of midfield. Jordan Henderson has failed to show the form that got him in the team for the World Cup two years ago but is still likely to start in England’s first game against Russia in
Marseille. James Milner is likely to line up alongside his fellow Liverpool midfielder with his experience and versatility appealing to the England boss.

Eric Dier is also set to be part of the squad. This season he has proved to be a crucial part of Tottenham’s title charge. Dier’s current form means he is in with a real shout of getting in the starting eleven against the Russians. Dier’s has a natural ability to break up the game, and play simple passes off to more creative players. Dier’s biggest strength is that he knows his biggest weaknesses and what he is capable of.

Roy Hodgson is also likely to include Jack Wilshere.

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Familiar sight – Wilshere on the sidelines

Despite his injury problems that have limited his appearances for Arsenal this season, the 24 year-olds’ performances in the past warrant an inclusion, the England manager has said so himself.

 

Predicted to make the squad:

Jordan Henderson & James Milner (Liverpool), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur) and Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

Attacking midfielders:

Three men who have risen through the ranks in recent years have an ability to really hurt any opposition team and get England fans excited. They are; Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli. Barkley and Sterling possess great pace and dribbling ability and can really get at any team.

Alli meanwhile is exciting fans up and down the country. He has a real chance in making the starting eleven as he is equally capable of playing as an advanced playmaker or playing in a role that sees him score goals from deep. At just 19, he has already made an impression on the Premier League and is favourite to win Young Player of the Year. Goal of the season could also follow, the goal against Crystal Palace being a wonderful example of the teenager’s unbelievable technique.

England v France - International Friendly
Alli’s rise has excited England and Spurs fans in equal measure. At 19 could he fire Spurs and England to glory?

There’s likely to be just one spot left for an attacking midfielder and that spot is going to be fiercely fought out between Adam Lallana and Theo Walcott. The latter has explosive pace down the flanks but his final ball and finishing ability is still questioned alongside his inconsistent performances. He appeared to disappear in Arsenal’s recent fixture with Manchester United and Walcott frequently fails to turn up when it comes to big games.

Liverpool’s Adam Lallana suffers from a similar problem of inconsistency. His strengths are very different from Walcott’s, he’s far from the fastest but has shown under Jurgen Klopp he has incredible stamina and his ball control and dribbling are superb. However, even if he goes to France, Lallana is unlikely to get in the starting eleven as he isn’t capable of playing out wide and won’t be favoured over Alli or Rooney as the central creative midfielder in the team.

The question is who does Hodgson think can make a real difference when called upon from the bench. Walcott is likely to get the nod should he remain injury free.

Predicted to make the squad:

Ross Barkley (Everton), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur) and Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

Strikers:

Two years ago if you’d have been told Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy would be heading to the Euro’s, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had woken up in an alternate universe. Kane has shown after a slow start to the season that he wasn’t just a one season wonder and his goal against Arsenal in the North London derby last weekend shows exactly what he’s capable of.

Soccer - UEFA Euro Under 21 2015 - Qualifying - Play-Off - England v Croatia - Molineux
Harry Kane – Should lead the line for England in the summer

Meanwhile, Vardy is the Premier League’s top scorer with 19 goals that may lead his remarkable Leicester side to the title. His stamina, pace and lethal finishing make him a very attractive option to lead the line for England.

Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge is making his way back from injury and a lot’s happened since the 2014 World Cup when he was the country’s undisputed number one striker. Questions in the media have been raised over his injury concerns and he’ll need to remain fit and scoring goals until the end of the season should he beat Vardy and Kane to being England’s first choice striker.

Despite his injury (oh doesn’t this feel so 2006) Wayne Rooney is set to be taken to the tournament. It’s not a metatarsal this time, but the England captain will miss England’s warm up games against Germany and Holland but will feature in the tournament and is likely to slot in just behind the main striker. The knee injury which Rooney suffered will no doubt hamper his attempts to prove he can perform at a major tournament, something he’s not done since Euro 2004.

Predicted to make the squad:

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) and Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)

So how far can England go?

England’s young squad are exciting and are certainly going to be a force in the future. However, it’s hard to comprehend the Three Lions getting beyond the quarter finals. Russia, Wales and Slovakia will all prove difficult games, the Russians will be organised and difficult to break down, Wales have Gareth Bale and Slovakia carry a few familiar faces in the shape of Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel and Napoli’s Marek Hamsik. However, you would expect England to make it out the group and the quarters seem the most likely point of exit with the team unlikely to be able to compete with the other European giants of Germany, Spain and France.

How will they line up against Russia?

England (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

England kick off their campaign on the 11th of June in Marseille vs Russia. The Three Lions then go on to play Wales in Lens on the 16th and Slovakia in St Ettiene on the 20th. 

Please note: all players are injury free or expected to be fit at the time of writing. 

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