Southgate spoiled for choice as ‘home’ Euro 2020 awaits for England
Three World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland over the next week provide England manager Gareth Southgate with his final chance to experiment before he names his squad for the delayed Euro 2020.
The Three Lions will enjoy home advantage for most of the Euro as they aim to end a 55-year wait to win a major international tournament.
Wembley host all three of their group games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic, as well as both semi-finals and the final.
Fans could even be back in stadiums by June and July to cheer Southgate’s men on thanks to the speed of the UK’s coronavirus vaccination roll out.
The pressure is on the England boss to build on a surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, especially given the rich resources he now has to choose from.
AFP Sport looks at the big decisions that await Southgate in the coming months.
One of the few areas where England are not blessed with a world class talent is in goal.
Jordan Pickford has retained his status as number one despite a number of costly errors for Everton.
However, Pickford is absent this week due to a rib injury, handing Burnley’s Nick Pope his long-awaited chance to prove himself in competitive games at international level.
Pope has proven himself to be a reliable Premier League shot-stopper, but his distribution has counted against him.
Dean Henderson could therefore emerge as Pickford’s challenger. The 24-year-old has started Manchester United’s last seven games, but may lose his place when David De Gea returns from paternity leave after the international break.
Southgate will be judged not only on what personnel he picks, but what system.
The former Middlesbrough boss largely used three at the back in Euro 2020 qualifying, but there have been calls for him to find space for more of his attacking talent…..read more