Ben White and Alexander-Arnold in England’s provisional Euro 2020 squad
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been given a chance to revive his international career after being named in England’s 33-man provisional squad for Euro 2020, while Everton’s Ben Godfrey and Brighton’s Ben White have been called up by Gareth Southgate for the first time.
Alexander-Arnold, controversially dropped from England’s squad for their World Cup qualifiers in March, was included on Tuesday. However, the Liverpool right-back faces a fight to convince Southgate, who has delayed naming his final 26-man squad until 1 June, to take him to the tournament.
England’s manager has veered towards picking Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Reece James over Alexander-Arnold, who finished the season strongly with Liverpool.
The larger squad was named because plans have been complicated by the involvement of English clubs in the Champions League and Europa League finals this week and Southgate wants time to assess players who have been struggling with injuries.
England have concerns over a few key players before their opening game against Croatia at Wembley on 13 June. Harry Maguire is set to miss Manchester United’s Europa League final against Villarreal on Wednesday because of damaged ankle ligaments, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson has just returned from a long-term groin injury, and Leeds’s Kalvin Phillips is a doubt after suffering a shoulder injury against West Brom on Sunday. Southgate said he expected to know more about Maguire and Phillips in the next few days.
With Burnley’s Nick Pope out because of knee injury, Southgate has included four goalkeepers. West Brom’s Sam Johnstone and Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale have a chance to battle for the third spot, with Dean Henderson and Jordan Pickford also included.
Southgate’s concern over Maguire means he is looking at other centre-back options. He has handed call-ups to White, whom he said could also play in midfield, and Godfrey, leaving Eric Dier, Fikayo Tomori, Ezri Konsa and James Tarkowski disappointed.
There are places further forward for Jesse Lingard, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Mason Greenwood and Ollie Watkins. James Maddison, Tammy Abraham and Danny Ings have been left out.
Southgate’s task now is to cut seven players. Ramsdale looks most vulnerable of the goalkeepers and Alexander-Arnold’s challenge is likely to be to prove he is a better bet on the right side of defence than James, who has had a good season for Chelsea. Other defenders will be relying on Maguire failing to prove his fitness. It is doubtful Godfrey and White will remain with the squad for the duration.
With Lingard listed as a midfielder and potentially reliant on Henderson or Phillips failing to prove their match sharpness, it is likely Greenwood, Watkins and Saka are fighting over one place in attack. Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho are expected to make the final cut.
“Our situation is more complicated than any other country,” Southgate said. “We know we have 12 players still to play in finals this week. We knew would need additional players. Added to that we have injuries at various stages.”
A player named in the final squad can be replaced, subject to Uefa approval, before a team’s first game on the grounds of injury or illness.
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England are unlikely to field their strongest side in the warm-up matches against Austria on 2 June and Romania on 6 June in Middlesbrough because of Southgate’s desire to give players a week’s break after their club seasons.
After United’s game against Villarreal, the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City takes place in Porto on Saturday. The tight schedule means United’s Henderson, Luke Shaw, Greenwood and Marcus Rashford will miss the Austria game and players from City and Chelsea are doubtful for the visit from Romania. Southgate has Kyle Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling from City and James, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount from Chelsea.
Southgate addressed the desire of his captain, Harry Kane, to leave Tottenham. “I don’t have a need to have a conversation with Harry Kane regarding focus and professionalism,” he said. “He has one goal with us and that’s to win a European Championship.”
He went on to say that “what’s going on at his club is a matter for him and Tottenham” and added: “We’re not going to stop phones ringing but I expect most deals are done at the end of tournaments.”
Southgate said Kane’s club-mate Dier had been “a key player in some of our biggest moments” but his form had not been “strong enough”. The player took the news of his omission, he said, “in a professional way”.
The Newcastle assistant Graeme Jones will replace Allan Russell on the England coaching staff.