One erroneous move from Gareth Southgate is blamed for England missing their first major title in over five decades – his choice of young, inexperienced players to lead the Three Lions in the Euro 2020 final. Well, on hindsight that can pass, but had Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho scored their penalties against Italy, they’d have been well etched in English football folklore.
All that though, is water under the bridge. The dust has settled and while it is a great time to reflect on what could have been, it remains key that focus is placed on the future opportunities and the relevant planning.
After performing dismally at Euro 2016 finals, England got to the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup, then the Euro 2020 final. Their graph has been on an upward trajectory and while they may have felt this was their time, that the journey is heading towards success is not in doubt.
One thing to be celebrated about England, is that a bulk of the team that lost the World Cup semi final in Russia, were part of the side that featured in Euro 2020. This continuity, as well as the hunger for silverware in senior players including skipper Harry Kane, is what will make England great.
The experience of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Pickford and Kane remains key in transition of the growing players to push England ambitions.
Southgate has shown great confidence in young players, grooming them at the national team level and some of the lads that featured in Euro 2020 will be the ones to complete this journey towards silverware.
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So, apart from the known established players, who are the players set to hold forte for England in the coming years?
Trent-Alexander Arnold: The Liverpool defender missed Euro 2020 with injury after being named in the final squad. His fighting spirit is commendable, especially for the way he battled his way back to the team after earlier being overlooked. With regular appearances and good showing for Liverpool, Southgate’s preferred 3-4-3 system would suit him as a wingback.
Mason Greenwood: The Manchester United forward was also denied a Euro 2020 chance by injury. His rise towards the final weeks of last season depict a player Southgate can rely on for the future and age is also on his side.
Harvey Barnes: The Leicester City attacker was among the leading stars in terms of forward play before getting injured earlier this year. His place seemed assured in the England team after featuring against Wales and at 23, he can only hope to avoid a repeat of any such injuries and return in his best form.
Jude Bellingham: The Borussia Dortmund midfielder didn’t get to feature a lot in Euro 2020 but the promise is clear. He played mostly as a sub and amassed about one hour of football, but at 18 years old the little he showed is a guarantee that England will reap from his talent in a few years.
Kalvin Phillips: The Leeds United midfielder was one of the break-out players at this competition. His midfield partnership with Declan Rice has all the writings of going on for many years. He was among the players with the most minutes for England at Euro 2020 and demonstrates Southgate’s trust in him.
Declan Rice: The West Ham United man’s profile has risen after the Euros, having been key in England’s defensive performance overall. With a great understanding with both Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson in midfield, you can bet he will be around for a long time, barring injury.