It is captivating to reflect how Gareth Southgate and England would be imminent these Nations League games had things gone as deliberate this year. This double-header with Iceland and Denmark would have been the first time the national side had been together since Euro 2020. There could be new bests in the team after heroic presentations or there could be players dismissed after deteriorating on the big stage.
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As it is, those situations have been suspended by 12 months. In its place, these games, as well as structure towards a shot at Nations League silverware at the end of 2021, will also deliver a chance for England’s young players. Emerging talents, who would not have been at the Euros at all, can begin to earn their place in Southgate’s plans and work towards an advert at next summer’s delayed European Championships.
There is a robust chance Southgate’s starting XI in June 2021 will look quite dissimilar from the one he was preparation to go with at this summer’s contest. The nonappearance of Harry Maguire, because of his law court case in Greece, and the inaccessibility of players such as Marcus Rashford, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Harry Winks, and Ben Chilwell through injury, has also unlocked the door for others to stake a right.
Certainly, Jack Grealish, who finally wealthy his first call-up to the senior team following Rashford’s withdrawal, has labelled this week more or less like a experimental. Players such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Conor Coady, and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips may feel the same way and will be employed hard to convince Southgate they merit another call-up next month when England take on Wales in a friendly before more Nations League competitions against Belgium and Tuesday’s opponents Denmark.
Outside the players in the current group, there is a whole host of U21s with drives of walking up, too. Bukayo Saka and Callum Hudson-Odoi will confidently be in Southgate’s thoughts, while the postponement could also give 17-year-old Jude Bellingham time to show he will be prepared, after a season in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.
Selection dilemmas for Southgate
Southgate could also see this time as a chance to rearrange his line-up from front to back. For example, he may have been desirous to stick with the experienced goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had constructed up with the side at a World Cup and Nations League finals for Euro 2020, but would now be an chance to bed-in a new ‘keeper such as Nick Pope.
While Pickford writhed last season, Pope recorded 15 spotless sheets in the Premier League, additional only to Liverpool’s Alisson, and could use the Nations League movement and early rounds of World Cup succeeding in March next year to build up familiarity with England’s protection.
Further onwards, Southgate may feel 20-year-old Phil Foden will be prepared to start for England at next summer’s contest. So, what type of other midfielders would need to come into the side to praise him?
And how does Southgate finest use the talents of Mason Greenwood, who has spurt onto the scene so forcefully he will surely need to be in the reckoning when the boss is weighing up his aggressive options, along with Harry Kane, Raheem Genuine, and Jadon Sancho?
Southgate: Maguire to return next month
Southgate tactics to bring Maguire back into the England set-up next month having reserved the protector from this group following his Greek court case. Four days after his capture in the initial hours of August 21 following an alleged incident on the island of Mykonos, the 27-year-old was found guilty of attacking a police officer, swearing, fighting arrest, and corruption. Maguire maintains his blamelessness and has attracted with the Greek court system, with the Manchester United head saying he dreaded for his life throughout his arrest.
“It’s been a really problematic period for him,” supposed Southgate. “I think the last few days have been very significant for him to be able to relax and get away from all the care – mentally get a rest because of course, he had a short break anyway but then the events that occurred in Greece dominated that.
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