England at Euro 2024 – best team, Southgate decision, changes needed

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You can stuff the Three Lions shirt back in the wardrobe, replace the St George’s flags with Christmas decorations and cancel all the celebration plans for December 18th. Yes, sadly England are out of a major tournament again following the devastating 2-1 defeat to France in their World Cup quarter-final clash on Saturday.

There will no doubt be a great deal of soul searching and some tough moments of reflection ahead from the players and staff. But rather than wallowing in misery, we at Express Sport have decided that the best course of action is to look forward to a hopefully glorious future.

After all, it is just a year-and-a-half until Euro 2024 in Germany, where England will go into the tournament as one of the hot favourites once again. So can they finally, FINALLY, get over the line and end all those many years of hurt? Here’s a look at some of the key questions ahead of the competition…

What will England’s XI look like for the first game of Euro 2024?

Matt Dunn: Pickford; James, Stones, Guehi, Shaw; Bellingham, Rice; Saka, Foden, Rashford; Kane.

Neil Squires: Pickford; James, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell; Rice, Bellingham, Foden; Rashford, Kane, Saka. 

Stuart Ballard: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell; Rice, Bellingham, Henderson; Foden, Kane, Saka. The 2026 World Cup may be when big changes are needed, but I don’t see England’s XI for the 2024 Euros being that different to the current one.

Archie Griggs: Ramsdale; James, Tomori, Stones, Chilwell; Rice, Bellingham, Maddison; Saka, Foden, Kane. England have a solid young group of players at their disposal and will be in a better place when the Euros return in 2024. However, it would not be a huge surprise to see a new goalkeeper between the sticks if Ramsdale continues to excel for Arsenal between now and then, with Pickford set to celebrate his 30th birthday prior to the start of the tournament.

Tom Parsons: Pickford, James, Stones, Tomori, Shaw, Rice, Bellingham, Phillips, Saka, Foden, Kane. With only 18 months to go until Euro 2024, I really can’t see England’s squad changing that much before the tournament. I’m tipping Tomori to wrestle the centre-back shirt away from Maguire if he can secure a return to the Premier League next summer. And James and Phillips could also be handed starting spots.

Alex Turk: Pickford; James, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham, Mount; Saka, Foden, Kane. Boring, sorry… Maguire’s involvement is the most disputable, but I think he will leave United in the summer and have a strong 23/24 season playing in a lower line.

Do you want Gareth Southgate to stay in charge for the tournament?

MD: Provided he is up for it, Southgate should be given the chance to lead the England team he has built for one last challenge. Hopefully he will see bringing football home from Germany – the opposite to what Germany did in England in 1996 – as some way of achieving international closure so he can sign off for club football on the back of long-overdue Three Lion success.

NS: Yes. Southgate has taken this side so far and despite the quarter final exit in Qatar they have progressed at this World Cup. If his heart is still in it, he deserves to have the chance to finish what he has started. 

SB: Some may see the World Cup exit as a chance to try something new but I feel like Gareth Southgate deserves one final major tournament. He’s the reason this country has fallen back in love with international football and a close defeat to World Cup favourites France shouldn’t be the end of that.

AG: Southgate has shown that he lacks the tactical awareness required to be a top-level coach, with his cautious approach to making substitutions letting England down at Euro 2020 and to a degree against France at the World Cup. However, he boasts arguably the best man-management skills in international football and has got England’s big-name stars pulling in the same direction after years of club rivalries spilling over into the squad, which means that he will be the right man to lead the team in 2024 on the condition that he learns from his past mistakes.

TP: Southgate has built a unique bond with his England players over the past six years and still appears to be the best man for the job. It is of course concerning that he hasn’t been able to get his team over the line in any of the three major tournaments he has been in charge at. But the Three Lions culture is excellent so the man deserves one more chance of glory.  

AT: Yes. Southgate’s contract runs until 2024, and, like the FA, I’m keen for him to hold off on a return to club football and honour it. England’s defeat to France wasn’t on him, so he deserves one last punt at glory before many of his era’s stalwarts step back.

What is the main change England need to make to go from contenders to winners?

MD: A stronger defensive platform is a must – and England’s success depends greatly on one of the younger centre-backs developing enough to oust cumbersome Harry Maguire from the team. The only other thing England need to change is their luck.

NS: As he matures, England need to build their attacking structure around Phil Foden, using him more centrally.

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