Gareth Southgate will have a lot of conundrums to solve ahead of Euro 2020 (if it goes ahead). Some players are returning from injury at the right time, whilst others are not hitting the heights of previous seasons. He is already sweating on the fitness of Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford, so attacking options will definitely come under the spotlight.
One area of particular interest will be the attacking midfield role. Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard were some of England’s most creative players at the World Cup in 2018, but Alli is only clinging on to a place in the England squad, whilst Lingard’s form this campaign for Manchester United means he is almost certain to miss out on the squad this summer. But who should take his place this time around?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has returned from injury and has put in some great performances for Liverpool. He might not be first choice at club level, but Southgate is known to be a big admirer, especially because of his versatility. Oxlade-Chamberlain has missed the previous three major tournaments through injury, so will be desperate to be involved this time and should get enough minutes under his belt to make the cut for Euro 2020.
Ross Barkley is hitting form for Chelsea just at the right time and is another player favoured by Southgate. He played six times in the Euro 2020 qualifiers and was involved in seven goals, scoring four and setting up three more. Barkley has also been excellent for Chelsea recently, scoring two goals and setting up four more in his last seven domestic appearances. He also now has plenty of experience at international level so looks likely to earn himself a place in the squad.
Phil Foden might be considered a long shot due to the lack of opportunity afforded to him at Manchester City, but his performance in the League Cup final might tempt Southgate to give him a chance. His technique and vision are not in question, as he has shown this season in the Champions League creating as many clear-cut chances in the competition as Lionel Messi – the joint most. However, Foden has only completed a full 90 minutes in the Premier League once this season. Will he make it this summer? If not, he will definitely be at the World Cup in 2022.
James Maddison made his England debut in November in a 7–0 win over Montenegro and looked to be the frontrunner for the playmaker role. Unfortunately, his form has dipped in the last few months and he has not scored or set up a goal in his last 11 games for Leicester. That said, no English player can boast as many key passes in the Premier League this season as him, and his creativity and ability from a dead ball should see him make the squad.
Others in with a chance include, Jack Grealish, who offers something different to the rest of the competition. He has still not won an England cap or even been called into a squad before, but his form has been impressive this season, scoring seven goals and assisting six others, with only Kevin De Bruyne creating more chances from open play in the Premier League.
Mason Mount ended his 18-game wait for a goal when scoring against Everton, but does he have the creativity of Maddison or Grealish’s dribbling ability? Instead, he relies on his intelligent movement to get into goalscoring positions. He has superb potential, but Euro 2020 might be too soon for him.
Dele Alli returned to form when José Mourinho took over at Tottenham, but he is now looking more frustrated than ever. He is being forced to play a role that doesn’t suit him, leading the line rather than playing off Harry Kane. He has plenty of experience with England so cannot be ruled out, but there are other player’s in better form.