Youthful England squad littered with leaders as Gareth Southgate targets Euro 2020 victory

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
Youthful England squad littered with leaders as Gareth Southgate targets Euro 2020 victory
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad for Euro 2020 is brimming with young talent, but a nagging concern is whether the manager has selected the right blend of youth and experience to go all the way this summer.

Southgate's final squad should leave no one wondering 'what if', with the 50-year-old boss yesterday including teenage wildcards Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka, as well as Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish.

James Ward-Prowse and Jesse Lingard, who both felt like safer picks despite the latter's recent form, were left out and the manager's only cautious call was arguably the selection of four right-backs, pointing to a return to a back-three.

Southgate's squad will be youngest and lowest-capped at the tournament, with an average age of under 25 and just three players over 30 in Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, the squad's elder statesman at 31 and five days.

England's XI will be built around 22-year-olds Mason Mount and Declan Rice, who Southgate yesterday described as future England captains, and 21-year-old Phil Foden, while Bellingham is emerging as a realistic alternative if Henderson does not sufficiently recover from a groin injury to play a full part.

Southgate is still finalising his 'leadership group' of senior players, likely to include captain Harry Kane, Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Harry Maguire and 28-year-old Conor Coady, but he believes there are leaders throughout his squad, right down to 17-year-old Bellingham.

"We've got other leaders, old and young, and tough personalities," Southgate said. "I'm looking at Jude, Declan [Rice], Mason. They're future captains of whatever teams they play in, frankly. It's great for them to have the experience of working with people like Henderson, Kane, but also, in their own right, they've got leadership qualities now.

"Take Jude and Bukayo, who has been at a club who've had a difficult season, they've shown incredible maturity already with their clubs and with us, so we have no hesitation in having them."

Southgate is also confident his young stars are experienced beyond their years at club level. During the March World Cup qualifiers, the England manager said he needed more "winners" in his squad and, since then, his four Manchester City players have won another League Cup and Premier League title; Mount, Reece James and Ben Chilwell are newly-crowned European champions with Chelsea; and Trippier has won the first major trophy of his career with La Liga winners Atletico Madrid.

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

"I want to win more," said Trippier. "It can be a really strong thing to come into the squad [on the back of]. You've won things, you want to win more and other players can feed off that. We've got so many players playing at a high level and a lot of our players are used to winning titles."

Speaking about Bellingham specifically, Southgate added: "Jude is phenomenal. His performance levels with Dortmund in the big Champions League games were what really struck us. He stood up in those big moments and they're the moments we're really assessing the players on."

The other question for England is Southgate's own experience and whether he can beat the likes of France manager Didier Deschamps, Portugal's Fernando Santos and Germany's Joachim Low, who have all already won major tournaments with their countries.

"I've got a lot of experience now of a very high-pressure job, as high pressure as you can have; experience with big matches," Southgate said.

"But I still know that I'll be better again in two years' time and I'll be better again in four years' time because I've got the desire to improve, learn, reflect. I want to be the best possible coach and manager I can be.

"Are we ready to win? Well, we've been to two semi-finals, so the next step is to try to go further."

Read More

Gareth Southgate: Youngest England squad have no fears of Euro 2020 failure

Euro 2020 news LIVE: Final squads confirmed; England vs Austria warm-up friendly latest

England vs Austria, Euro 2020 friendly: Prediction, kick off time, team news, squads, tickets, h2h results, odds

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting