It is 200 days until England kick-off their delayed Euro 2020 campaign – and manager Gareth Southgate heads into the winter months praying his players stay injury free.
But if everyone is fit, who will start England’s tournament opener against Croatia on June 13?
Here, Sportsmail details the selection dilemmas Southgate is facing ahead of next summer.
Harry Kane’s place in the England fold is safe, but who needs to catch Gareth Southgate’s eye?
There appears little evidence to indicate that Jordan Pickford won’t start the Euros as England’s No 1. Despite the doubts, Southgate has made crystal clear the Everton goalkeeper is his first choice. There’s logic to the England manager’s stance – Pickford, in fairness, has played well for the national team.
But his club form has put his position under intense scrutiny. For now the high-profile errors for Everton haven’t effected Southgate’s faith. Any more, however, will merely place more unwanted scrutiny on the goalkeeper heading into the summer. Second in line is Nick Pope, but his chances of displacing Pickford suffered a blow recently when Southgate said neither of his back-up goalkeepers – including Dean Henderson – were applying serious pressure on the current No 1.
Pope has proved himself an excellent goalkeeper at Burnley, but there remain concerns over his distribution, a key facet Southgate is looking for in his keepers. Henderson had hoped to challenge but is currently second choice behind David De Gea at Manchester United. So, as it stands, Pickford has the gloves – and there seems little possibility of that changing.
Southgate is a big fan of Jordan Pickford and that hasn’t changed despite his recent dip in form
Southgate appears intent on deploying a three-at-the-back (or five depending on how you look at it) system. At centre-back, two of the three slots look to be resolved with Harry Maguire and Eric Dier shoo-ins to start next summer’s tournament. That leaves one more centre back slot to fill.
Joe Gomez would have been a leading contender to fill the role but the serious knee injury he suffered during the previous international break means he is set to miss the Euros. Conor Coady is a relative newcomer to the international stage, but his impact has been profound.
He has been hugely impressive in his three England caps so far, indeed Southgate has already included the Wolves captain in his leadership group. The 27-year-old looks to be the favourite to fill the final slot at centre back.
Conor Coady has impressed the England setup and has a big chance with Joe Gomez out
The emergence of Tyrone Mings as a fixture in the England squad also provides Southgate with a strong option, the fact the Villa man is left-footed brings the added value of balance to the defence.
Southgate’s idea to utilise Kyle Walker as a makeshift centre-back provides the England boss with another realistic option; the fact the Manchester City star played in that role…
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