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As England begin their campaign for the Euro 2024 qualification round, Gareth Southgate must be fully aware of the pressure on his shoulders. Having been dumped out of the World Cup rather underwhelmingly by defending champions and eventual runners-up France, the Three Lions felt they did themselves a disservice. However, when you weigh up their squad with the likes of Argentina, Brazil and some of the other heavy hitters of international football, you wonder if fans’ expectations actually align with the ability that Southgate’s squad possesses.
While there is a good blend of potential and proficiency — captain and star player Harry Kane is evidently world-class and joined by established Champions League winners in Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount and Reece James to bring the best out of Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka — Southgate’s tactics come under scrutiny, as does his team selection. While those that bet on football often tip England for greatness, the sentimentality shown towards the likes of Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips must fail to inspire anyone on the fringes of that inner clique.
Indeed, some thought picking players based on their leadership was a good thing but when it is to the detriment of the exterior squad, and players aren’t getting a look-in despite their better domestic form, it will lead to more questions being asked of Southgate’s ability to lead the team forward, especially as that senior group continues to age. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some key absences from the most recent England international squad and try to justify their omissions. Read on to find out more.
It’s not difficult to see that Trent Alexander-Arnold has suffered a tough season with Liverpool so far but his absence from the England team still feels harsh. The right-back is one of the best in the world when on top form and his delivery gives the Three Lions a new dimension. If anything, the formation they played should be a bonus for the Liverpool man as he will get more protection defensively and be allowed to bomb forward and contribute in the final third. However, it seems like he’s simply not a Southgate player and will have to wait for the manager to depart if he is ever to get a genuine look-in for his country.
Another defender that has yet to receive a real chance for England, Fikayo Tomori won Serie A last season and will be in the last eight of this year’s Champions League, yet wasn’t even in England’s provisional squad for the World Cup. The centre-back is quick, aggressive and a great talker, and his versatility means he could easily slot into a back three, where has played on and off for AC Milan since leaving Chelsea. Tomori could well be a two-time Champions League winner before he gets the chance to play regularly for England, which is still a strange decision.
It’s clear from this list that Gareth Southgate has no interest in Italian football. Tammy Abraham has picked up sporadic minutes here and there for England, and while it’s obvious he would play second fiddle to Kane, Southgate selected just one other out-and-out striker for his squad in Brentford’s Ivan Toney. Despite enjoying a solid season with Jose Mourinho at Roma, in which he’s recorded double figures for goal contributions, it doesn’t look like Abraham will get his chance for the Three Lions and will need to prove he has what it takes once again, with the 25-year-old reportedly targeted for a return to the Premier League with Newcastle United.