With the Euros just under five months away, Roy Hodgson will soon be called to pick his initial 30 man squad; before whittling it down to the final 23 who will book a place on the plane to France. As a top seeded team, England will be looking to make a real case for themselves at this years tournament. With a number of young English players breaking through into their respective premier league first teams, the England manager could face a tough decision of whether to go for experience or the raw, talented youth. In my opinion, it’s time to utilise our young up and coming talent, rather than wasting two good years until the next tournament. The team should be picked on form and form alone; regardless of the player’s age. I’m going to run down my 23 man squad, before picking an additional seven standby players for the Euros tournament.
Joe Hart- An obvious choice in the England team and one of the first names on the sheet. With Hart challenging for another Premier League title between the sticks with Manchester City, he’s an obvious choice to retain the number one jersey in the upcoming tournament. Furthermore, being one of the outstanding keepers in the world at the minute, he will provide an experience core to the England team.
Jack Butland- Although he has been extremely impressive over the first half on the season with Stoke, and arguably has more pressure and shots coming his way than Hart, I would still put him as England’s second choice keeper. That’s not to say that he won’t challenge for the top spot in years to come, but for now the experience of a major tournament will do him the world of good.
Fraser Forster- Although the third choice keeper is rarely called upon, it’s important to have another safe pair of hands in the squad just in case anything goes wrong. Plus, just like Butland, as a young player getting any major tournament experience is vital if he ever does progress further up the pecking order in future.
Kyle Walker- A year ago I would have been thinking twice about putting Walker in the squad at all, yet alone as the first choice right back, but this year he has been impressive to say the least. His usual blistering pace in attack has been pivotal for Spurs this year as they enjoy pushing their fullbacks forward with the ball; however Walker’s often questionable defence has visibly improved this year too. Now part of one of the best back fours in the Premier League, he’s definitely a started for me.
Nathaniel Clyne- As I explained with walker, not too long ago Clyne would have walked into the first team, but I feel that a slightly dodgy first half of the season for Liverpool’s defence puts question marks over whether his form is good enough to carry him into that spot. Having said this, over the next 5 months, the roles of these two fullbacks could easily swap.
Chris Smalling- For me Smalling has been a shining light this season in a completely unremarkable Manchester United team. Whilst they have struggled to score goals going forward, Smalling has remained a rock at the back; hugely influential in their impressive defensive record. For me he’s a definite starter this year.
John Stones- Question marks were raised as to whether Stones would move to Chelsea in the summer, and later if he would be able to cope with the £40m price tag he had been labelled with. However, in a struggling Everton side he has remained as calm and efficient on the ball as ever, showing the flair and confidence needed in a young England team. I think the partnership of Smalling and Stones could be a blossoming one in the England shirts.
Gary Cahill- Cahill would have been a certain starter for me if it hadn’t been for the complete collapse of Chelsea this year. The whole squad looks unconfident and uncomfortable on the ball, making mistake after mistake in defence. Furthermore, with constant wholesale changes to that back four, there’s no way Cahill will have the game time of form to command England’s back four this summer.
Phil Jagielka- A solid and ever-reliable centre back who has sparked up a good relationship with Cahill over the past years. Not a starter, but a good presence for the squad.
Leighton Baines- With Luke Shaw looking as if he will miss the tournament this year, I think Baines is the clear player to step forward into that left back berth. Always reliable, experienced and able to put in some devastating set-pieces, Baines should be a strong player for England.
Danny Rose- As there are very few English left backs getting a lot of game time this year, it seems that Danny Rose is the only stand out choice to take on this back-up role. With many impressive performances and even a game as captain now under his belt at Spurs, I’m sure that he will prove to be competent in this position.
Eric Dier- I don’t think anyone saw the emergence of Dier as a strong and steady centre mid coming this year. With injury problems surrounding the Spurs squad in August, Dier stepped up to fill the gap and hasn’t lost his place since. Often performing as a guard just in front of the two centre backs, he hasn’t put a foot wrong this year, even turning up with the odd goal. He has definitely earned a place in this new young team.
Dele Alli- Again, the rise to fame of this young boy has been immense this year, already chipping in with five league goals for Spurs. Although the versatile centre mid has often played further forward for Spurs, I would be tempted to slot him in next to Dier purely because they have interacted so well for club this year. A dead certain starter.
Raheem Sterling- After his big money move to Man City in the summer, Sterling has slotted well into an all-star team, and always brings a huge amount of pace a trickery to a team. Every team needs those few players who can commit a defender, and Sterling is one of those.
Wayne Rooney- Although I don’t think that the captain’s armband should mean an automatic start, Rooney is beginning to come back into form and is now an experienced captain for both club and country. Purely for the moments of class and the loud leadership he brings, he gets into my starting team.
Ross Barkley- He has shone brightly in the premier league for a number of years now, choosing to stay at Everton and cement his place there. His strong play and ability to beat an opponent whilst possessing the pivotal finishing touch makes him important to England this year. I think him and Rooney could spark up an interesting partnership.
Theo Walcott- As a player who brings pace to either side of the pitch, whilst also being able to play upfront and finish, Alcott is a versatile and much needed experienced head in this England team.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain- Much like Walcott, Chamberlain brings intense pace to the team and could be used to great effect towards the end of games when tired legs come into play.
Jordan Henderson- He could be a more experienced started than Eric Dier, however just coming back from injury I think it would be wise to monitor the rest of his season first. If he continues to lead that Liverpool team further up the table then he’s a definite starter.
Jack Wilshere- As always with Wilshere, it depends whether he is actually fit for this year’s tournament. In recent games when pushed further forward he has proved instrumental for his country, but if his injuries lead to a lack of fitness, game time and form then he’ll find it hard to make his way into the starting 11.
Harry Kane- Without a doubt should be England’s man to lead the line this summer, after his powerful breakthrough last campaign he has already proved this season that he isn’t a one hit wonder. Already into double figures for Spurs, Kane is able to lead the line on his own and hold the ball up with strength which could come in handy further on in the competition; not to mention that he can clearly finish his chances.
Jamie Vardy- I don’t think anyone can argue that he hasn’t earned his place in this squad. After grafting his way up the football league slowly, Vardy finally had his chance this year to show what he can do. Not only is he top goal scorer in the league, but he also managed to break the record for goals scored in consecutive games; he simply has to be in the 23 man squad.
Daniel Sturridge- He has bags of talent and can finish better than most, which is why he should really be challenging for that first team spot. However injury after injury has meant that his playing time has been limited this year and without a run in the Liverpool team there’s no way he should be starting for England.
Jordan Pickford, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jones, James Milner, Fabian Delph, Michael Carrick, Danny Welbeck.