We are officially in the same year as the Euros!*
It’s a new year filled with optimism. There’s a new president in the White House, the Premier League title race is wide open and there are just five months until the Euros kicks off – even if it ends up being held in just one location.
Competition for places in Gareth Southgate’s squad continues to hot up as we pass the halfway stage of the domestic season.
Here are the form 23 England stars for the summer’s squad if picked today, ranked by how secure their seat on the plane to wherever the tournament ends up taking place.
*as long as it isn’t moved again
A new year brings a new third-choice keeper.
Dean Henderson is still confined to the cups, while Darlow is just about Newcastle’s only real positive of late.
Only Sam Johnstone has made more saves this season than the 30-year-old Toon stopper in 2020/21.
Another new entry.
For a while it seemed like England could only produce options at right back and not left back (bar Ben Chilwell, obviously).
Now there’s actual competition for the glamorous role of being the Chelsea man’s summer understudy, with Luke Shaw, Bukayo Saka and James Justin all impressing lately.
Uncapped Justin gets the nod over Shaw for his added ability of being able to play just about anywhere.
A non-mover from last month, Villa’s 2021 form has been mixed but Mings continues to be a defensive totem for Dean Smith’s side.
There are challengers but Mings holds firm on his spot on the plane.
Has there been a better English player in the last month than James Maddison?
Southgate may have far too many attacking midfield options but J-Mads (as presumably no-one calls him) is becoming very hard to ignore.
Decent in the shock win over Liverpool, Pope is so secure in his seat on the plane he’s got his shoes off and he’s already checking the in-flight entertainment.
Arsenal are good again! Who saw that coming?
At the heart of their mini-revival is Saka, who can play anywhere down the left…or right.
Should Southgate want to play with wing backs, or simply want an exciting pacy option off the bench, 19-year-old Saka is as good an option as any right now.
An ever-present for Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, Dier’s going to the Euros…
Everton continue to impress but DCL hasn’t actually scored since 5 December.
He’s also got Danny Ings, Tammy Abraham and Callum Wilson breathing down his neck, as well. The race to be England’s other striker just got interesting.
Another big mover (in the wrong direction), it’s been a wretched month for Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool have forgotten how to score and the young right back, who suffered with Covid, has been a shadow of his former self.
As noted by Squawka, Trent Alexander-Arnold attempted 18 open-play crosses for in the defeat to Burnley with a 0% success-rate. Yikes.
Reece James, Kyle Walker-Peters, Tariq Lamptey, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Kieran Trippier etc etc are waiting in the departure lounge for late cancellations.
Man City are flying, Foden is flying.
Get on the plane.
He ranks 14th in the Premier League for both saves and clean sheets in 2020/21, but he is Southgate’s established number one and that is not going to change.
Fasten your seatbelts, there’s a rave on this plane.
It’s been a good start to the new year for Sancho who has two goals and two assists in 2021.
He moves up two places, appropriately.
Villa’s small-shinpadded hero continues to be one of the most exciting English players to watch right now.
Whether he starts for the Three Lions is up for debate, but whether he gets on the plane shouldn’t be.
The other pretenders to the right right back crown have fallen away… Kyle is still there. Unflinching. Immovable.
John Stones might be England’s best centre back right now.
That’s not where you’d have thought we’d be in 2021, is it?
As Chelsea continue to struggle, Mount continues to impress with two goals already this year.
The Southgate favourite seems a shoo-in (and deservedly so) now.
United top the table but Rashford is in not at his best.
Britain’s alternative Prime Minister hasn’t scored in six and noticeably struggled against Liverpool.
He’s not in danger of losing his seat or anything, but it’d be nice if he finds that scintillating form again before the summer.
Like with Mount, Chilwell has been largely exempt from criticism during Chelsea’s blue period.
He’s still England’s first choice left back by several miles.
Is there another midfielder capable of doing the role Rice does for England? Probably not.
With just about every big club watching, Rice has been excellent this month with four wins from four at West Ham.
He makes the top five.
Yep, Liverpool have been poor, though Henderson actually impressed when thrust into a back four against Manchester United.
Can’t see Southgate using him there, however.
The goals still aren’t flowing for Sterling, who has just five in 2020/21, but the attacking performances from City have been impressive – especially considering the lack of a proper striker.
He will be one of Southgate’s most experienced stars in the summer and even a bizarre Piers Morgan campaign won’t affect that this time.
Captain of the side top of the league, you say?
Defences may not be terrified, but Slabhead has earned respect for his club displays of late and he is undoubtedly one of England’s key men.
Three goals and an assists so far in 2021, Harry Kane is just so damn relentless.
Seemingly, the only thing that can stop him now is injury…