England begin their Euro 2024 qualification campaign with a double header of big matches this month, up against Italy and Ukraine.
Gareth Southgate’s future was under scrutiny following the Three Lions’ World Cup quarterfinal exit at Qatar 2022, but the former defender resisted calls to resign as he looks to plot a path towards another major tournament.
Southgate’s return of a knockout place at all three major tournaments during his tenure has won the 52-year-old a solid base of support, but Euro 2024 is likely to be his swansong as England head coach.
Loyalty to certain players has been a key part of Southgate’s England strategy since taking charge in 2016 but he could freshen up his options for the upcoming qualifiers.
The Sporting News takes a look at the 25-man squad selected by Southgate on March 16.
MORE: What is Gareth Southgate’s England record like compared to past managers?
England football squad for March 2023
Goalkeepers are Southgate’s most straightforward call for his first squad pick of 2023, with Jordan Pickford remaining as his No.1 choice, backed up by Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale.
The trio all travelled to Qatar, with Pickford less involved than in previous tournaments, but the Everton shot-stopper is crucial for Southgate. Pope and Ramsdale are enjoying impressive domestic seasons with Newcastle United and Arsenal respectively and will be ready to put pressure on Pickford’s position.
Southgate opted to take nine defenders to Qatar with Arsenal star Ben White later withdrawing from the squad due to personal reasons.
The battle to fit an excess of right-backs into Southgate’s plans continues to be a major talking point, as White misses out, despite enjoying a standout season in a full-back role for Arsenal.
Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier are included, but Trent Alexander-Arnold’s struggles at Liverpool have edged him out of the squad, but Reece James is fit enough to take his place.
Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell are the options on the opposite flank with John Stones‘ return from injury a timely boost for Southgate.
Question marks over Harry Maguire dogged England’s preparations for the World Cup, but Southgate has stuck by the Manchester United defender, despite his declining role at club level.
Southgate’s show of faith in Maguire continues his pattern with the out-of-form centre-back, but Crystal Palace’s Marc Guehi will be hoping to see some game time, alongside squad regular Eric Dier, from Tottenham.
Jude Bellingham‘s continued rise during, and since the World Cup, has changed the picture in England’s midfield, with the Borussia Dortmund star now first choice alongside Declan Rice.
Jordan Henderson and Mason Mount have both shaken off injury concerns in time to be included with Southgate also sticking by Kalvin Phillips, despite his lack of action at Manchester City.
Southgate has opted against handing out potential senior international debuts to Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott and Brighton winger Solly March, with Conor Gallagher and James Maddison both keeping their spots.
The majority of forwards who travelled to Qatar keep their places with Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka both automatic picks for Southgate, but there is a shock omission in the form of Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling.
Marcus Rashford’s incredible form in 2023 should see him start against Italy… but his United teammate Jadon Sancho isn’t ready for an England return yet.
City duo Jack Grealish and Phil Foden have enough credit in the bank with Southgate to keep their places, but despite the ongoing FA investigation into Ivan Toney over alleged betting offences Southgate has rolled the dice on the Brentford hotshot.
Kane (20) is the only English player to score more Premier League goals than Toney (16) so far this season, and that form has secured his place, after missing out in Qatar.
|Player||Club||Position||International Caps||International Goals|
|Harry Maguire||Man United||DF||53||7|
|Kyle Walker||Man City||DF||73||0|
|Luke Shaw||Man United||DF||28||3|
|John Stones||Man City||DF||64||3|
|Marc Guehi||Crystal Palace||DF||3||0|
|Jude Bellingham||Borussia Dortmund||MF||22||1|
|Declan Rice||West Ham||MF||39||2|
|Kalvin Phillips||Man City||MF||25||0|
|James Maddison||Leicester City||MF||1||0|
|Marcus Rashford||Man United||FW||51||15|
|Jack Grealish||Man City||FW||29||2|
|Phil Foden||Man City||FW||22||3|
England Euro 2024 Qualifiers — March 2023
England face two games this month to kick off their Group C campaign, with a trip to the iconic Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples on March 23 followed by a home fixture against Ukraine at Wembley three days later.
|Fixture||Date||Location||Kickoff Time (GMT/ET)|
|Italy vs England||Thu, Mar. 23||Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples||19:45/15:45|
|England vs Ukraine||Sat, Mar. 26||Wembley Stadium, London||17:00/13:00|