The England de-brief - Has Southgate made the right decisions with his latest England selection?

Published on 23 March 2024 at 16:00

This latest international break has seen some very rogue decisions from England manager Gareth Southgate, deciding to call-up 18 year old Kobbie Mainoo and 23 year old Antony Gordon. This is his last opportunity to trial players before the tournament commences in June where he has a very difficult decision narrowing his squad down to 26 players. Here we provide our thoughts on his latest squad and give some insight into the decisions he has made and whether they are right.

England face Brazil today at 19:00 in a seismic clash and with only three months remaining until judgement day and Gareth Southgate's line-up will be headline news this evening. The 53 year old has had some huge decisions to make with Ben White adding fuel to his selection saga with his revelatory announcement that he rejected an England call-up. The right-back was sent home from the World Cup in Qatar due to family reasons but it was alleged their was a feud between Steve Holland and the player.

Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling has done little to increase his chances of making a late addition into Southgate's squad, a previous influential player for England the winger's move to Chelsea looks to have ended his international career. The 31 year old was booed by his home fans in the FA Cup Quarter Final against Leicester City last weekend for his poor performance. 

Fikayo Tomori continues to be snubbed for the three lions, possibly due to playing outside of England at AC Milan and the 24 year old failed to impress on previous call-ups for the England which has probably swayed Southgate's mind of his inclusion. Sancho's expected revival on loan at Dortmund has only just started and its too late, his England chances seem very slim after Euro 2020 where the winger appeared to be overlooked by Southgate. 

A very surprise inclusion is Marcus Rashford, while the forward scored a sublime goal in the Manchester derby he has failed to replicate his stellar form he displayed in Ten Hag's first season at Manchester United and it continues to be discussed why he is in the England squad. Its most likely, that Southgate feels he has never played poorly for England, similar to Kalvin Phillips and Harry Maguire who have struggled at their domestic clubs and he wants a mixture of experienced players as well as young talents.

new additions:

kobbie mainoo - 

The Manchester United youngster received his first senior three lions call-up in unusual fashion on Monday being selected for the Under 21 side, before a surprise intervention from assistant coach Steve Holland to tell him he was part of the main squad.

Mainoo has burst onto the scene at United as a saving grace for Erik Ten Hag this season resurrecting his dormant midfield and while he has only played 14 Premier League games for the Red Devils the future prospect has demonstrated that he is the new heir to Kalvin Phillips and Jordan Henderson in the England set-up.

What he provides is a defensive midfielder who is a ball-carrier and he is not afraid to initiate attacks and advance forward which makes him such a unique player for Southgate because compared to Henderson he is so much more athletic and agile. At United this season he has become the primary outlet which has created progression  between defense and attack when the team is on the counter, something they lacked in Casemiro and it appears Southgate wants to see how he can benefit England's flow in the centre of midfield.

While, it appears this dream call-up might only be to give the youngster a taste of the senior squad its clear that Southgate sees Mainoo as a key influential player in the future and wants to include him early within the England framework. His inclusion in the England squad might have come too late to displace the dependency of Jordan Henderson at the upcoming Euros but who knows if he continues to show consistency until the end of the season.


antony gordon - 

A European Champion with the Under-21's last summer, Gordon has been banging on the door for a place in Gareth Southgate's England squad all season with his performances at Newcastle United. 

The former Evertonian has scored nine goals and made five assists in an underwhelming Newcastle side this season in the top flight and while Southgate's trusted click of Grealish, Sterling and Rashford have averaged below-par performances this season Gordon has been one of the most in form wingers with a clear growth from last season.

One of his main improvements is his clinical ability in front of goal, last season he was like a rabbit caught in headlights and while he possessed all of the pace and energy his final product was absent. Since that magical night in Batumi against Spain at the Under 21 European Championship final he has returned this season on a different level and he been Newcastle's most influential and consistent player while they have battled with injuries.

If Southgate chooses his squad on form then Gordon has to be in his Euro squad, he has been one of the most productive wingers this season but Gordon's lack of time with the England squad might hamper his chances at selection with the likes of Cole Palmer and Jarrod Bowen receiving call-ups more recently and more accustomed with the team.

jarrad branthwaite - 

The centre-back has experienced a whirlwind 12 months emerging as a break-through talent on loan in the Eredivisie at PSV last season and being part of the U21 European Championship success last July. His maiden Premier league season has proven very good, he has been one of Everton's star players despite the club's relegation battle and off field financial saga and the latest achievement is a first senior England call-up.

The centre-back is the perfect modern day defender, who has great ball-playing skills and is comfortable under pressure playing out from the back. This will be a integral factor in his England selection, with Southgate limited on centre-backs who can play-out, only John Stones is really the only one who is effective at doing it.

It was a bold decision from the England manager to snub in-form centre-backs Fikayo Tomori and Levi Colwill, but Branthwaite deserves a chance and while its unlikely he will make the Euro squad because of his late inclusion into the set-up similar to Mainoo he will be a pivotal future star for England and its important to integrate him now.

It will be interesting to see if the former Carlisle player can impress Southgate enough to secure a place on the plane this summer and Everton's Premier League status at the end of the season will be a major factor in whether he will be chosen. 


joe gomez -

The injury stricken defender has enjoyed a mini reinssance this season, after his promising career stagnated at Liverpool as a result of becoming a squad player. While, he is not entirely new to the England set-up with 11 caps to his name it has been nine and a half months since he last put on the famous white shirt for the three lions in a behind closed doors friendly against Wales.

The defender has experienced a revolution at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp originally a centre-back he had become the perfect deputy at right-back to cover Trent Alexander-Arnold. But this season he has played 41 games his highest tally since 2019-20 at Liverpool and it is his versatility which has made him an attractive proposition for Southgate.

With Reece James a long-term absentee and the current left-back crisis with Luke Shaw also unavailable, Gomez provides Southgate with a reliable option and even though he will not be a starting member it seems Southgate is encouraged by the 26 year old's professionalism and work ethic showing great resilience and psychological fortitude to overcome two ACL injuries.

Really he should not be in contention for a place at the Euros if Southgate had a fully-fit selection, but currently with the options he has Gomez could make the plane and it wouldn't be a bad selection choosing a defender who recently starred in the Carabao Cup final win and is a potential Premier League champion come the end of the season.


Written by Lewis Eadie

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