The countdown to this year’s UEFA European Football Championship is well and truly underway.
International managers across Europe will be trying desperately to assemble their best squads and England boss Gareth Southgate is no exception.
With some places virtually guaranteed, our football betting expert has taken a look at some of the outside shots with a claim to a spot on the plane.
Vardy to come out of retirement?
It says a lot about Jamie Vardy’s blistering start to the season that he remains top of the Premier League goalscorer table despite having netted just once in his last seven games. Unsurprisingly, though, this downturn in form is having a major impact on his side’s recent results.
Leicester have only picked up five points in that time from a possible 21 and could really do with a Vardy resurgence should they wish to keep up with Manchester City and maintain a Champions League qualification spot.
England could do with him too, if they are to make a statement at the upcoming European Championship. With Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford on the treatment table for the long-term and Tammy Abraham having also suffered a recent injury scare, Southgate could need to look elsewhere when it comes to leading the line.
Granted, Vardy officially retired from international football in 2018 but it wouldn’t be the first time we have seen a player recant on his word. Southgate said in November that he would be prepared to issue a recall for the Foxes man who, at the end of the day, is still the top scorer in the toughest league in the world.
Pickford’s picking out one too many
Just when it seemed like England may have established another long-term first choice goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford hasn’t exactly had the best of seasons between the sticks so far. At Russia 2018 he was England’s penalty hero, but what about now?
The Toffees keeper has conceded 38 goals in the league, with two of those coming directly as a result of his own errors. His side threw away a two-goal lead against Newcastle at the end of last month, with both of the Magpies’ goals coming in added time.
While Pickford did catch Florian Lejeune’s 90+5min attempt, he was already standing behind the line. His season to date will not fill the England backline with confidence.
A rogue suggestion for a keeper who could be in contention is Dean Henderson. The Manchester United player is currently on loan at high-flying Sheffield United, where he has conceded only 20 goals across 23 games in the league so is perhaps one to keep in mind come selection day.
Many of the midfield shoo-ins, like James Maddison, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dele Alli, aren’t exactly defensive-minded. So, who could take the remaining spots for the middle of the park?
Declan Rice fits the bill and, while the prospect of his selection doesn’t set the pulse racing, he’ll likely have to do. Then you have a handful of players who could be there or thereabouts. The likes of Ross Barkley, Eric Dier and Fabian Delph are unlikely to make the cut this time around.
Then there’s have Mason Mount and Harry Winks, who both have decent claims for a spot on the plane. This means outside shots Jesse Lingard and Jack Wilshere can probably start booking their summer holidays.