Southgate stays loyal to 10 Lions who have played most under England boss…

England stalwarts Kane, Rice, Walker, Sterling Credit: Alamy
England stalwarts Kane, Rice, Walker, Sterling Credit: Alamy

Gareth Southgate appears wholly reluctant to move on from some of these players, with only one missing from the latest squad and that’s due to injury…


10) Eric Dier (2696 minutes)
Marcus Rashford has made more appearances (37 to Rashford’s 48) but the nature of being a central midfielder/defensive midfielder (almost all his caps pre-Covid came as the latter) is that you tend to start and finish more games than wingers that drift in and out of form and are susceptible to a 60-minute substitution. That said, Dier lost his place in the England squad ahead of Euro 2020 and only regained it in September 2022 when it looked very much like even he might be a better option than Harry Maguire. He was not.

Time to phase him out?


9) Jordan Henderson (3001 minutes)
He’s had periods out of the starting XI and even out of the England squad but Gareth Southgate has always turned back towards the Liverpool captain like a lovely red comfort blanket. And you absolutely understand why when you see the performances he produced at the World Cup against Senegal and France (until his legs could literally move no more). Also, seems an absolutely lovely bloke and has performed the Big Brother role impeccably. And by that we mean providing guidance, not watching their every move. Has he got a seventh international tournament in him? Don’t bet against him.


8) Kieran Trippier (3085 minutes)
Whether at right-back, left-back, right wing-back or left wing-back, Trippier has largely been a mainstay of Southgate’s England. With Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold much younger men, it was thought Trippier might be phased out but Southgate still does not trust the Liverpool defender. Though it was telling that the older Kyle Walker – by four months – was preferred as soon as he was even vaguely fit in Qatar.


7) Declan Rice (3170 minutes)
The only player on this list under the age of 27 and the only one not at the 2018 World Cup, where a midfield trio of Henderson, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard sent Southgate cap in hand to the not-very-Irish Irish international midfielder. It took some time for most but Southgate to be convinced of his worth but by the time Euro 2020 belatedly came around, he was integral to way England play. The only real problem now is that there is no back-up. So don’t get broken, Declan.

6) Raheem Sterling (4196 minutes)
A big old leap to the Big Old Six there, with Sterling earning 55 of his 82 caps under Southgate. As it says here, ‘the bright young spark in 2014 became the scapegoat in 2016, the potential attacking weak spot in 2018, the national hero in 2020 and then, through no fault of his own, an outmoded elder statesman in 2022′. Injured for the first post-Qatar squad and there might still be a role for Sterling – who has scored 18 England goals under Southgate – but really, this is the world of Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden now.


5) John Stones (4424 minutes)
There was a spell when he lost his way for both club and country but mercifully Stones timed that blip between international tournaments. At three major tournaments he has been pretty much imperious, with Southgate recognising the classy and calm player Stones has become under Pep Guardiola. Even at the age of 28, we believe that Stones is a player to build around; he can squeeze out another Euros and a World Cup at least.


4) Kyle Walker (4541 minutes)
If the World Cup illustrated anything it is that Walker remains a) really f**ing quick and b) absolutely trusted by Southgate, who has frequently rested the Yorkshireman through qualification campaigns, but always with the caveat that he does not need to play Walker in every single game because he knows exactly what he can do. He will be an easy player to discard when Southgate is replaced but we will absolutely miss his ludicrous pace (and chest control).

Jordan Pickford is consoled by Gareth Southgate Credit: Alamy
Jordan Pickford is consoled by Gareth Southgate Credit: Alamy

3) Jordan Pickford (4635 minutes)
Often questioned by outsiders but almost never doubted by Southgate, who has nurtured England’s best tournament goalkeeper since Peter Shilton. He could easily spend the next eight years between England’s posts, getting really angry at occasionally being asked to do his actual job, though Aaron Ramsdale is breathing down his neck.


2) Harry Maguire (4714 minutes)
Southgate won’t ditch Maguire like Erik ten Hag has because international football suits the Manchester United captain. Though saying that, we would still like to see a credible alternative emerge as even though he was better than we could have reasonably expected in Qatar, he also was at least partially responsible for almost all the goals England conceded.


1) Harry Kane (5223 minutes)
The man. The don. England’s only real striker with an astonishing 48 goals in 63 games under Southgate. Just don’t ask him to take more than one penalty in a game.

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