ENGLAND’s next competitive match will be at Euro 2024. Gareth Southgate’s team concluded their qualification campaign with wins over Malta and North Macedonia with attention already turning towards next summer’s tournament in Germany.
While Southgate has established a core group of players over the last few years, he will face a number of difficult decisions on who to take to Euro 2024 and who to leave at home.
Southgate will have just 23 places on the plane to allocate (he was allowed to pick 26 players for the 2022 World Cup), but the England manager has long been an advocate of youth. Which youngsters (22 and younger) could be included in the Euro 2024 squad?
Mauricio Pochettino has made Levi Colwill a key figure at Chelsea this season with the 20-year-old most frequently used at left back. Colwill is a central defender by trade, but Southgate also used the youngster on the left side of his defence in the friendly win over Australia last month. He provides good depth in the position.
Colwill is extremely comfortable on the ball and would give England a way to play out from the back as a central defender. He would also give Southgate some tactical flexibility given his ability to play on the left side of a back three. Colwill is surely in Southgate’s thoughts for a Euro 2024 place.
Harvey Elliott has yet to make the step up to the senior England team, but the Liverpool midfielder has become a star for the Under 21s in 2023. He was one of the best players at the U21 Euros, which England won, and continues to deliver for Lee Carsley’s team – Elliott scored twice in a 3-0 win over Serbia on Saturday.
Elliott is highly rated by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool where he has featured in 10 Premier League matches this season. His energy and drive would allow England to counter-press in the centre of the pitch with the 20-year-old most effective in a midfield three. Elliott could be an effective system player for Southgate.
After a slow start to life at Newcastle United, Anthony Gordon has recently demonstrated the sort of form that persuaded the Magpies to pay £45m for him in January. The 22-year-old has registered four goals and two assists in 11 Premier League appearances this season and is flourishing under Eddie Howe.
Gordon was Player of the Tournament at the U21 Euros last summer, but has yet to be called up to the senior England squad. This has opened the door for Scotland to make their pitch with Steve Clarke reportedly keen to call up the winger. However, Gordon could still be an important player for England.
While Rico Lewis has flown under the radar somewhat at Manchester City, Southgate clearly likes what he sees in the 18-year-old who was handed his England debut against North Macedonia on Monday night. Lewis has made five Premier League appearances this season and is growing under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.
Lewis is capable of playing in a number of different positions in defence and midfield. This versatility could be the thing that pushes him into the England squad for 2024. Lewis is unlikely to be a key figure in Germany next summer, but he could be an effective depth option behind several first team players.
Cole Palmer made his England debut against Malta after an impressive start to life at Chelsea. The 21-year-old has registered four goals and two assists in nine Premier League appearances this season with Pochettino doing a lot to build his attack around the former Manchester City player.
Palmer is technically adept, but also plays with intelligence. He knows how to make the most of space. He is naturally creative and carries a goal threat of his own. If Palmer can maintain his current form for Chelsea until the end of the season, Southgate won’t be able to ignore him for Euro 2024.