Gareth Southgate said the England squad’s large representation in this week’s Champions League and Europa League finals was the main factor behind selecting an increased provisional group of 33 players for Euro 2020.
Twelve of the players selected by Southgate will not be able to join their England teammates this week due to Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United’s involvement in Europe, meaning the squad would have been left short of options in training.
England will now instead submit their final squad of 26 players on 1 June – the Uefa deadline for confirmation – with the delay also allowing England to assess the fitness of those still struggling with injuries, such as Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips.
“I think our situation is more complicated than any other country at the moment,” Southgate said. “We’ve known for a little while that of this 33, we’ve got 12 players still to play European finals this week so we were always going to need some additional players for the first week of our camp.
“Add to that we’ve got some injuries that are at various stages, a couple we have very little information about at the moment and a couple who are back into training or back into matches in Jordan [Henderson] and Jack Grealish but still not in training consistently, not training with the team in Jordan’s case. We felt that more time is going to help us make better decisions.
“I’ve always said my preference would be to name the squad as a clean 26. We were able to do that ahead of Russia, we had standby players who knew their role and I think that’s always a preferable situation but we’ve not got an ideal hand of cards this time. There are a lot of unknowns and information and evidence is really important when you’re making decisions. We’ll have a lot more in the next seven days and we’ll be able to make the best possible decisions we can.”
The larger size of the provisional group has also allowed Southgate to award maiden call-ups to centre-backs Ben Godfrey and Ben White, describing their participation as “an investment in the future”.
“Godfrey and White are good young players,” he said. “[Ezri] Konsa has had a good season at Villa, Fikayo [Tomori] has done well at Milan.
“These two are flexible, this is a good opportunity for us to get to know them as a team. There’s no way of knowing how long they will be with us at this stage.”
Pressed about why White had superseded Brighton teammate Lewis Dunk, Southgate added: “It’s less that we see him ahead of Lewis (Dunk), he’s younger and there’s an investment in the future there.
“With Ben, we’ve tracked him since Leeds, in midfield and across the back line, he’s got pace so we know it’s still early with these centre-back but they are getting good experience at a young age. It’s a good opportunity to see them with us.”
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ben Godfrey (Everton), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Brighton)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (West Ham), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).
Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).
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