The Sky Sports pundits make their selections for this summer’s tournament; Carragher and Neville agree on 20 of the 23 players; But Carragher and Neville split on whether Trent Alexander-Arnold will be part of Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have named their 23-man England squads for this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament.
Nether Carragher nor Neville have found room for Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka or Jesse Lingard in their selections.
And the pair have clashed on the shape of the squads, with Carragher selecting more defenders than Neville despite the former Manchester United full-back including Eric Dier.
Carragher and Neville were also split on whether James Ward-Prowse or Jude Bellingham should make the squad, and divided on the inclusion of Mason Greenwood.
Gary Neville’s England Euro 2020 squad
Neville said: “If you think about John Stones and Harry Maguire playing, Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson playing, or Rice and Kalvin Phillips, and Harry Kane starting up front, that’s a strong, sturdy spine with the back four. If Kane was to get injured, and say a Maguire or that type, you’re going to need a completely different type of player because you need that fluidity. If they go to a back three, that means a Phil Foden or a Jack Grealish. I think with Grealish there was an impression he might not fit in with the squad, but he did enough in those games in November, and I’d definitely take him.
“Phillips plays the position really well, alongside Rice, in a midfield two. What Gareth Southgate has been fantastic at, other than doing a great job, is that he’s played players who are in form, and in position.
“Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool, you would pick him. But his form for England isn’t quite as good. He picks players who have done well for England, and there are very few who have done better for England than they have for their clubs. I think someone like Phillips replicates his club form for England. There are others who do it; Jesse Lingard plays well for England, Danny Welbeck used to play better for England than for his club. Some players adapt really well, and he’s adapted well, he plays the position well and does what Gareth Southgate wants.
“I think Greenwood’s a brilliant finisher, if Harry Kane got injured. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, if we’re playing a top team, half an hour to go, we’re 1-0 up, to run the line, run them ragged, harass them, potentially get a goal, but his finishing is a little bit erratic.
“If England need a goal, I would bring Greenwood on. He’s naturally a better finisher than Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling, even though he doesn’t have the goals of Sterling, and he’s got that quality in tight spaces in and around the box. I don’t think there’s a natural replacement for Kane, but I think Greenwood’s the only one who can really finish.
“I don’t think Greenwood will get in the squad – even if he scores seven in his last 10 games. I think Gareth’s really resolute. I think he will use Sterling as that fourth striker.
“But when you’ve only got Rashford, who plays on the left, Calvert-Lewin and Kane as your natural strikers, my concern is if Kane gets injured, you’ve got two counter-attacking strikers, and against a team that sits deep, who’s going to manipulate the ball?
“You’ve got Grealish up there, Foden in different positions, but I’d try to get that fourth striker in who’s a little bit different. That’s just me. Gareth’s not picked Mason since last August or September, since that incident [breaking Covid-19 protocols in Iceland], and I don’t think he’ll get in now.
“The reason I’d put Ward-Prowse in is because he’s outstanding in that area. He’s natural in that area, Gareth’s had him in the Under-21s, he trusts him, knows he’ll get into that right channel and he’s a brilliant crosser of the ball.”
Jamie Carragher’s England Euro 2020 squad
Carragher said: “There was a little bit of talk in the last few days because Grealish was injured that Gareth Southgate might not pick him, and I think someone at the FA has tried to quell that and fed something out. Things can gain momentum, a furore that Grealish isn’t going. But he’s going. He has to go – the game away in Belgium he was the stand-out player, and he’s a special player.
“Bellingham’s playing for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, and I think he’s going to be a star of the future for England. He’s one of those in the squad where you’d look at them as not being involved as much, but you’re putting them in the squad for the future. Not to say he’s not good enough, he’s playing in the Champions League and will be involved against Manchester City.
“Yes, Ward-Prowse is a very good Premier League player, but this lad is playing at a higher level. You’d still have Henderson, Rice, Phillips in there at the moment and he’s a fourth one if there’s an emergency. But just having him around, I think he’s a special talent and would be one to take.”
Will Trent Alexander-Arnold make Southgate’s squad?
Although both Neville and Carragher selected Trent Alexander-Arnold in their squads, they were split on the prospect of the Liverpool right-back being included by Southgate following his recent ousting for the World Cup qualifiers.
“I don’t think he will include him,” declared Neville. “I think leaving him out in March was a precursor for the summer. I don’t think he would just drop that bombshell, I think he was getting everyone used to the idea this incredible talent is maybe not going to a tournament, unless [Kyle] Walker, [Reece] James or [Kieran] Trippier get injured.
“Last season, I alluded a number of times when I was watching Trent in the most exceptional Liverpool team, in an unbelievable season for him, that there will come a point where if he doesn’t become a little bit more serious at defending, and doesn’t get that intensity into his game, stops crosses, stops shots on goal, stops people scoring in his area, eventually there’ll come a point where the question of am I getting enough from him that way to cover what I’m losing that way.”
But Carragher remained adamant Alexander-Arnold’s unique qualities mean he has to be selected.
“He’s a unique talent, he’s not the same as any other full-back. Most full-backs, even attacking ones, the greatest ones going forward, are up and down in a straight line. He’s Kevin De Bruyne playing right-back. He’s different.
“I want to look at the one stand-out performance he had in an England shirt, a few years ago against Switzerland.
“When you talk about the areas you want him on the ball, I’d want him in that position more than anyone else in Europe. Harry Kane would want him on the ball there too, Raheem Sterling too. We haven’t seen enough of it in an England shirt, I get that. But Southgate has got to find a way to get him on the ball. You can talk about players coming up against him, but his own players, Sterling and Kane, whoever else is on that back post, will want him on the ball, in that position, more than anyone else in the country.”
But why no Sancho, Saka or Lingard?
Carragher and Neville had to make some tricky decisions, with Sancho, Saka and Lingard three of the most high-profile names to miss out on their squads.
“Jadon Sancho is playing at a really high level and his numbers are off the scale with Borussia Dortmund,” said Carragher.
“I’ve just never been fully convinced in an England shirt yet and, with the emergence of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish as part of the front three, someone had to miss out.
“Saka, I wanted him to be in it. He can play so many positions and that in some people’s eyes might be a strength. But for me it was almost a weakness.
“At first I had him in ahead of [Ben] Chilwell but I was thinking, if Luke Shaw got injured in the first game, would you really want Saka, who sometimes plays on the right wing, as the left-back in a back four? I looked at that and I think I went with the safe option.”
Neville echoed Carragher’s sentiments on Sancho and felt similar about Saka too.
“I love Saka but who would you leave out? That’s the question you’ve got to ask. Would you leave Grealish out? Would you leave Foden out? Would you leave [Mason] Mount out? No, I wouldn’t.”
Neville feels it’s too risky to include Saka as a back-up left-back given he doesn’t play in the position regularly.
“We’re going to have to get through these games against top opposition by having less of the ball, and I just think that having a defender who’s not a defender most of the time is not something Gareth is going to do. He’s not going to take that risk.”
On Lingard, Carragher said: “I just think with Mount, Foden and Grealish, not exactly the same but those types of players, I couldn’t leave one of them out.
“Lingard’s probably got the energy and the pace really but I couldn’t get him in.”
Neville added: “I came to the same conclusion. If you’ve got Mount, Grealish, Sterling and Foden, you’ve got enough players who can play in that connection position and do that role.”
But who should start against Croatia? Carragher and Neville’s starting elevens
England’s Euro 2020 group fixtures:
- Sunday June 13 – Group D: England vs Croatia; Kick-off 2pm (London)
- Friday, June 18 – Group D: England vs Scotland; Kick-off 8pm (London)
- Tuesday June 22 – Group D: Czech Republic vs England; Kick-off 8pm (London)
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