England Squad Announcement: Is There Any Case For Harry Maguire, Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Pickford To Keep Making The Team?

Published on 2 September 2023 at 13:00

Gareth Southgate announced his England squad on Thursday for the next set of EURO 2024 Qualifiers against Ukraine and Scotland. Even with very welcome call ups for the likes of Lewis Dunk and Eddie Nketiah, it’s Southgate’s continued reliance and favouritism towards the likes of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson that is the main talking point from the announcement. 


Southgate has previously alluded to being determined to pick his players dependent on their club form and routine playing time, but the clear emergence of reliable ‘favourites’ will no doubt be an unfortunate blight on his legacy, and increase the vitriol that scores of faithful England fans show towards Southgate and many players within the team. 


Manchester United fans and neutrals alike have begun to loathe the presence of Harry Maguire: having recorded zero minutes in the Premier League so far this season, in spite of the shaky form of the Red Devils' starting defence, the 30-year-old is reportedly content to sit on the bench and collect his exorbitant wages rather than play first team football for the likes of West Ham, who were heavily linked with the former captain all Summer long. 


Many players who have made the jump from Europe to the Middle East like Jordan Henderson has have seen their spots within their respective national teams in favour of domestic talent and those still playing at an elite level: Georgino Wijnaldum, set to join Henderson's Al Ettifad side, will no longer find himself in the heart of the Dutch midfield under Ronald Koeman. Even modern greats like Ronaldo and Benzema aren't a lock for the Portuguese and French squads either, despite their immense talent and form in 2023. Even at his career peak in the 2019/20 campaign, Henderson's form and quality stands well below that of this aforementioned trio of players in 2023. 


Read More: Top 5 Most Embarrassing England Defeats


Jordan Pickford is a man who once again finds himself staring down at the pit of relegation with Everton for the third season in a row, failing to keep a clean sheet this season and looking incredibly reckless with his decision making and shot stopping approaches. 


And Kalvin Phillips' lack of game time for Manchester City, a side who played almost the maximum number of games possible last season, and are widely tipped to do so again this season, provides a damning indictment 


Many supporters will be quick to point out that the inclusion of Henderson, Phillips and Maguire is an unfortunate necessity, citing England's lack of depth in those key defensive positions, but considering Southgate's lack of rotation in major tournaments, what is stopping the manager even affording the likes of James Ward-Prowse or Sean Longstaff a place within the squad when Declan Rice remains locked in place as the starting defensive midfielder. 


Many England fans and pundits view the Southgate tenure with rose-tinted glasses: feeling that those who were a part of the 2018 World Cup and EURO 2020 squads that made it so far in the tournaments stand the best chance of finally returning the men's team to the peak of international football. Where Pickford was near-impassable at the EUROs, Maguire who made the eventual Team of the Tournament, Henderson being Southgate's ideal tempo-controlling midfielder, and Phillips who scooped the England Player of the Year award whilst still playing for Leeds United. 


And sometimes there is indeed immense value in having those experienced players who may have less pressure on their shoulders in those high intensity situations: but the Catch 22 of the current England team and Southgate's selections is that the players picked do have experience, but that experience has amounted to nothing but failure: a crushing defeat against Croatia, a gutless performance in their own backyard against Wembley, and exiting on a whimper against a beatable France side in Qatar. How can any aspiring England international feel they have a shot of finally bringing glory to the country when players who admittedly peaked 3-5 years ago have a stranglehold on certain positions within the squad. 


So come England's inevitable dominance of their qualifying group before its harsh taste of reality after playing its first decent opponent in next year's EUROs in Germany, it will take a never-before-seen decline in quality or spate of injuries to displace the likes of Maguire, Henderson, Phillips and Pickford in the England National Team. Let's all just hope the few new names given the green light like Levi Colwill and Eberechi Eze are given a chance to shine and give us some hope in the National Team once again, and some more free kick magic from Kieran Trippier might just be enough to wash the sour taste this current England selection leaves in the mouth.


By Jaspar Shepherdson

(@jasparshepmedia on Instagram and Twitter)


Add comment


There are no comments yet.