The England squad camp report regression is almost upon us

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jack Grealish;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jack Grealish</a> and <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:James Maddison;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">James Maddison</a> get their pose on.</span><span>Photograph: Eddie Keogh/The FA/Getty Images</span>


There are few phrases guaranteed to send shivers down the spine of even the most grizzled football veteran. But “From the England camp” is among them, generations of children traumatised into adulthood by the residual boredom of tournament reports advising us that Gary Stevens and Gary Stevens have the same name, to say nothing of Trevor Steven; that Dave Beasant has played snooker with Neil Webb; that the manager is “keeping his cards close to his chest”. For some, the simple utterance of “Gelsenkirchen” or “Baden-Baden” bring with them an ayahuascan aspect, and with Friday’s squad-naming deadline swiftly followed by Monday’s flight to Germany, the moment of regression is almost upon us. Before we even know it, Gabriel Clarke and co will be intoning whichever overwhelming seriousness and hilarious ephemera has “captured the public imagination” – an expression that does not, for the avoidance of doubt, describe the imprisonment in the Tower of groupthink nationalism, with grizzly torture thrown in to make sure.

But how not to be moved by those brave boys sending King Charles victorious, happy and glorious? And if not by that, surely by a couplet of vivid and unexpected beauty – rivalled only by “I walk into an empty room and suddenly my heart goes boom” and “I’m serious as cancer when I say rhythm is a dancer” – that provides the perfect accompaniment to the hurling of garden furniture in European squares. We digress. England are, of course, among the favourites to lift the trophy, reflecting their overwhelming supremacy in all aspects of human endeavour, like with the cycling. There are those who might posit that tossing loads of money at an expensive sport few others care about helps explain the marginal gains that brought such compelling success; those same people might posit that the richest league in the world means the richest infrastructure in the world means the most good players in the world. We digress again.

By the weekend, Gareth Southgate will name his squad, and we can be sure that his choices will be based on form following his explanation that Marcus Rashford – 50 appearances in 2023-24, nine goals – was excluded in favour of Jack Grealish – 40 appearances in 2023-24, three goals – because “other players in that area of the pitch have had better seasons”. Following similar logic, he is also expected to pick Harry Maguire (no appearance since April), Luke Shaw (no appearance since February) and Joe Gomez (not an international-level defender). Between now and then, though, the game against Iceland is sure to set pulses racing – especially if Southgate again selects Ezri Konsa, Lewis Dunk, Marc Guéhi and Kieran Trippier, a defence created as to provoke palpitations in all who clap eyes upon it.

Otherwise, he must decide if Curtis Jones brings much more to proceedings than the name Curtis, and whether to select Jarrod Bowen or James Maddison as the player who offers nothing the squad doesn’t already have – a call which may be dictated by which of the two is better at self-aggrandising cheerleading. Or the Jordan Henderson role, as it has become known. Otherwise, though, England will be confident of sustaining Southgate’s period of unprecedented success, filling their boots against the poor – Panama, Ukraine, Iran – scraping past the average – Colombia, Denmark, Czech Republic – and losing to the first half-decent team they meet – Croatia, Italy, France – prompting tweets, phone-ins and conversations. In fact, you know what? Maybe those from-the-England-camp reports aren’t so bad after all.


“I wasn’t unhappy at PSG, that would be to spit in the soup. Some things and some people made me unhappy” – Kylian Mbappé goes into wibble mode as he reflects on his end days at PSG.


Thanks to our friends at the Guardian Print Shop, we’re giving away one more David Squires cartoon on Friday. To enter, just write us a letter for publication below. We will choose the best of our letter o’ the day winners at the end of the week and that worthy winner will then be given a voucher for one of our top, top cartoonist’s prints. It could even be of this one. And if you’re not successful, you can scan the full archive of David’s cartoons here and buy your own. Terms and conditions for the competition can be viewed here.


My wife is a headteacher in Toronto. She recently observed a group of seven- and eight-year-olds playing football. When a goal was scored, the game stopped, an intense discussion took place, one player went over to a noticeboard, stared intently at it while occasionally moving his hands about, then went back to the group. He said something, some cheered and the game went on. When recess ended, she asked him what he’d been doing at the board and he replied: ‘Checking the goal with the VAR.’ Apparently, he’s the designated VAR and if a goal is disputed, he goes over to the ‘TV monitor’, reviews the run-up to the goal in his head and makes the call. I guess it’s all they’ve ever known” – Andrew Moore.

Rishi Sunak seems to have adopted the phrase ‘bold decision’. He might like to check out the last person who relied on that as his go-to soundbite” – Kevin Worley.

I was very disappointed to see that the story about Emilio Nsue (yesterday’s News, Bits and Bobs, full email edition) did not have a tagline of ‘Chaos Nsued’. I hope this gets corrected if he is successful with an appeal against the ruling” – Matt Warner.

If the Mourinho boom-bust doom-loop at Fenerbahce now really is compressed (Football Daily passim), does that mean he’ll announce his arrival at arch-rivals Besiktas later this week? And his inevitable appointment at Galatasaray on Monday morning? Special One, indeed” – Mike Wilner.

There can only be one multi-function football manager action doll (Football Daily letters passim) and that is surely Arsène Wenger (1996-2018). From the glasses-wearing professor mode, through the elegant suit-wearing version to the red mist Mourinho/Jol fighting incarnation, paying a visit to the arms outstretched, ‘where do you expect me to go?’ when sent off at Old Trafford mode, appearing to come to rest with the slightly befuddled ‘where has it all gone wrong?’ look before settling on the ultimate look – the ‘how does the damned zip on this oversized coat work?’ bemusement familiar to many an adult grandchild watching their grandfather get ready for a trip out” – Charlie Ashmore.

Send letters to Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Andrew Moore, who now has the chance to win a David Squires cartoon from our print shop at the end of the week. Terms and conditions for all this can be viewed here.