Southgate explains 'sad' big-name England omissions


Gareth Southgate has explained the thinking behind his 26-player Euro 2024 squad, in which he included Luke Shaw but not Harry Maguire, Jack Grealish and James Maddison.

Maguire has played a major part in all three of England’s previous tournament squads under his leadership and may have been fit to play some part in Germany, but Southgate told reporters the “balance” of his squad would be undermined by taking him.

He also explained why Grealish will not feature in the travelling party despite an impressive cameo, and assist, against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Monday night and why Maddison, who tweeted he felt he could have “offered something different” following his omission, also will not be on the plane.

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Sky Sports senior reporter Rob Dorsett analyses Gareth Southgate’s final 26-player squad for Euro 2024.

Southgate referenced Shaw, who has been picked despite not kicking a ball since February, as the one “gamble” in his squad and gave an update on when the Man Utd left-back could be available during the tournament.

Read Southgate’s full explanations for his selections below…

England’s final 26-player squad for Euro 2024

  • Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
  • Defenders: Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Man Utd), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
  • Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace)
  • Forwards: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

On James Maddison and Jack Grealish’s absence…

“The fact is we’ve got some players who have been playing extremely well all season in the league and we just feel other players have had stronger seasons – particularly in the past six months or so.

“We saw some fantastic performances the other night which underlined some of that and in the attacking area of the pitch we’re blessed with a lot of options and they’re all slightly different.

“[James Maddison] and Jack [Grealish] would have provided us with something different as well and they’ve been tough calls.

“They’re calls we’ve gone over and over and over as a group of staff to try to be fair and to try to use the right rationale.

“We back our decisions but we recognise we could have gone a different route. The boys are big characters, fabulous team-mates and great boys to work with.

“It’s sad to have to deliver that news to them.”

Grealish (left) has been a key figure for Southgate in the last two major tournaments
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Grealish (left) has played in 10 of England’s 12 games at their last two tournaments

On why there was not room for Harry Maguire…

“Trent [Alexander-Arnold] can play both [in midfield and defence], we had nine defenders in the last couple of tournaments so I think we’re the same now.

“That was part of the reason we couldn’t take Harry Maguire. We would’ve had to take a 10th defender, and that balance wouldn’t have been right, it would’ve left us short in other areas.

“Harry has made some progress, but it’s been complicated and we wouldn’t have had him in the group stages. There were too many hurdles to get through without being clear where we might get to.

“Knowing we haven’t got a clean bill of health across the rest of the backline, we need players who are fit and ready to go from the start.

“It was a really difficult call, you know how I feel about Harry, what he’s done for England and for me as a manager. It’s a slightly different case to [Grealish and Maddison], but it’s no easier.

“The decision on Harry [Maguire] is totally about his physical condition and his recovery from the injury. There is no other reason as he is one of our strongest centre-backs.

“In terms of those who can come in, clearly Lewis [Dunk] and Marc [Guehi] played the other night but Ezri Konsa also had an excellent season at Aston Villa.

“We’ve been using him as a full-back in some of the recent games but he also played at centre-half in March and was outstanding. It is his strongest position so there are a number of options and we also have Joe Gomez who can play in a number of positions.

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England’s Declan Rice says there’s no bitterness from the players left out of Gareth Southgate’s final 26-player squad.

“Jarell Quansah has stayed with us. He’s not had the experience of an England international at Wembley. It’ll be great for him to be us for the game.

“Hopefully we’re not needing to call anyone else in.”

On taking Luke Shaw despite his long injury absence…

“Luke Shaw has progressed really well over the past couple of weeks. At the moment, we feel he could have some involvement in the second group game against Denmark, but of course you’ve got to keep hitting the markers.

“He’s had a good volume of work and is operating at good speeds as well so I think you can take one gamble. That’s a gamble where we’ve got enough evidence that it could pay off.

“Positionally, because of what he brings with his experience and the fact that he is a left-footer who can drive forward and give us another attacking option as well, that was a situation we wanted to explore.”

On why Kane, Toney and Watkins were all picked…

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Gareth Southgate explains the reasons behind the inclusion Harry Kane, Ollie Watkins and Ivan Toney in his final 26-player Euro 2024 squad.

“In terms of being more attacking, I am repeating myself, but we’ve scored more goals than any generation other than the team under Walter Winterbottom, so we have been attacking.

“The different profile of the strikers is the reason for having three. They all offer something different.

“We know that Harry [Kane] is the starting guy but Ollie [Watkins] and Ivan [Toney] have different attributes and different strengths that we might need at any given time in a game.

“We now have five changes in competitive games and the demands on the squad across the season… the squad is so important and we have different options so we’ll use them.”

On why Euro 2024 comes too soon for Branthwaite…

“It’s a bit early for Jarrad [Branthwaite]. He has had a fabulous season, it was good to get him on the pitch the other night.

“But of course, in an ideal world, you’d like that balance of left-footers. For him to be in ahead of the others, I don’t think it would have been the right call at this stage.

“At left-back, that’s why we’ve taken what I think is a calculated risk with Luke Shaw, one which I think is worth taking.”

On why the squad announcement was brought forward from Saturday…

Southgate told BBC Five Live:

“I didn’t want to keep the players waiting until Friday. I think that would have been a mess, really.

“It wouldn’t have been fair on the players that we’ve released, wouldn’t have been fair on the players that were waiting to have confirmation that they were in.

“Inevitably, we knew when we named a 33 there would be a period of a nice prep camp, and then there was going to be a couple of days where there would be a lot of anxiety and a difficult couple of days for us all.

“But we’ll close that down later tonight and now tomorrow everybody’s heads are clear.

“They look forward to the game, and when they come back in on the Sunday they can really start looking forward to the tournament.”

On England’s chances in Germany…

“I’m excited [by the squad]. The other night, we had a lot of experienced attacking players not on the starting grid. And we had a lot of goals in the team still.

“In my head, in an attacking sense, that’s really crucial. The rest of the team, the profile of our midfield, the way we’re moving the ball forward more quickly, seeing forward passes, that excites me watching training.

“In terms of where we are, we’re excited about what we have. There’s always the unknown of that in a tournament, but there’s a lot of experience of tournaments in the group, and of big matches with their clubs as well.

“All of that adds into the mix of us being a good team.”

On the amount of leaders in England’s squad…

“Leadership is a really important part of any successful team. We still have a lot of players with 50-plus caps: Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Declan Rice, Harry Kane.

“Kieran Trippier is very close to that figure and we have young players with leadership as well. We’re blessed that we have a lot of leaders in the group and more than most teams.

“There’s a balance between those things and other people will emerge. We’ll see characters emerge as we work through the coming months. It’s nice to see how other leaders form.”



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