How the plane looked way back in February…
Right, we’re back.
With a just a year’s delay, the Euros are back on and everyone is finally qualified and ready to go… pandemic permitting, of course.
Last time we assessed the state of Gareth Southgate’s options it was February, so a fair amount has changed since then.
We now know that the Three Lions will face Croatia, Czech Republic and Scotland next summer, we know that Dominic Calvert-Lewin is for real and we know that football in empty stadiums just isn’t as good.
Calvert-Lewin adds penalties to the list of things you learnt he was very good at this season! ⚽️#ENGIRL pic.twitter.com/uQsVjyHUyo
— 90min (@90min_Football) November 12, 2020
Anyway, last point aside, 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…errrm…wherever the tournament will be held in the end.
Coady tries to shotgun a window seat | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images
Conor Coady is a good footballer and even better future Jamie Carragher replacement on Sky Sports.
He’s also an excellent option to have in a three at the back but his inclusion, as the least experienced of England’s options, may depend on the fitness of others, namely Joseph Dave Gomez.
Phillips practising waiting at the departure lounge | Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images
There are many young, exciting attacking midfielders who are English.
There are very few young, exciting defensive midfielders. Kalvin Phillips is certainly one.
Right now, he’s probably in the 23 on balance but his place could depend on how the season goes for Harry Winks and Jude Bellingham.
Mings in, Ings out | NICK POTTS/Getty Images
Doesn’t make many tackles but Tyrone Mings is still having an excellent time at Aston Villa – who have conceded the joint-fewest in the Premier League thus far in 2020/21.
Michael Keane may push him hard for his seat on the plane.
Who called for a right back? | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
Ok, we all know England have got too many right backs.
However, there’s a chance – as has been demonstrated in recent outings -that Kieran Trippier could go as left back. There’s a chance.
Also Southgate really loves him.
Undoing a bottle top in keeper gloves is no mean feat | Pool/Getty Images
A year ago Pope was a shoo-in, even closing in on taking the number one seat off Jordan Pickford.
That looks much less likely today with Burnley’s miserable form.
The lack of other English keepers means the worst Pope can really expect without serious injury is to drop to third choice, however.
Nick Pope makes a play for the arm rest | Pool/Getty Images
While Pope needs to play better, Dean Henderson just needs to play!90min understands Southgate has told him as much.
Someone get this man a January loan move!
Phil yer boots | Pool/Getty Images
Phil Foden is starting to look key for Manchester City and can play in a variety of positions.
Staying out of trouble is possibly his biggest battle now.
Getting ready to pop his ears from all the air pressure on the plane | LINDSEY PARNABY/Getty Images
Eric Dier was born to play centre back under Jose Mourinho.
He is now doing it and doing it well.
His added tournament nous probably makes him a shoo-in, barring injury or some mad Spurs collapse.
Another right back | Visionhaus/Getty Images
Reece James is a very good young right back and getting better.
Many have suggested that in Southgate’s preferred system there may be none better.
That might be extreme but his four caps this year (Trent Alexander-Arnold has just three) suggests the boss likes what he sees.
Here he is; our new saviour | Pool/Getty Images
Simply too good to ignore, Jack Grealish is England’s ‘it boy’ right now.
To paraphrase the German finance minister, Southgate may not like it but he’s going to have to go along with it.
DCL demonstrates how much leg room he needs | Pool/Getty Images
Here is Premier League joint-top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin explaining the difference between drip and sauce.
DCL has both drip and sauce.
The rave man cometh | Pool/Getty Images
Whether you like it or not, Jordan Pickford is going to the Euros.
And he’s going to get his rave on… and probably make an error leading to a goal.
Mount raising his hand in class… swot | Pool/Getty Images
Mason Mount is not a teacher’s pet. No, definitely not.
He is however a good midfielder who can player in a couple of different positions.
How many other right backs?! | Pool/Getty Images
Only Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson have more caps than Kyle Walker’s 51 from the latest squad.
He can play right back or in a back three. It’s a testament to his quality and longevity that he hasn’t just packed it in amid competition from about 4,000 challengers to his position.
Happy to sit on the wing | Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images
Four right backs, Jeremy? That’s insane.
Well, who are you leaving at home?
Rice showing off his new shin-pad/phone | Pool/Getty Images
Declan Rice has started the season in fine form and, as one of precious few English defensive midfielders, he will be on that plane like rice on… himself.
How is Sancho already 16 caps old?! | Pool/Getty Images
20-year-old Jadon Sancho already has 16 England caps. That’s mad.
The BuLi botherer hasn’t been at his scintillating best yet in 2020/21 but has shut down suggestions that his ‘little dip’ in form is due to a failed Man Utd move.
Chilwell checks his flight time on the departure board | Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Alannis Morisette once sang, ‘ten thousand spoons and all you need is a knife’.
Well, replace spoons with right backs and knives with left backs. Got it? Ben Chilwell is a bloody good knife.
Probably knows how to fly a plane, Peter Perfect over here | Pool/Getty Images
Assuming he’s not already Prime Minister by then, Dr Marcus Rashford MBE will be on the plane.
‘Do I bring the inflatable unicorn?’ | Pool/Getty Images
Dr Slabhead will be joining his esteemed Manchester United colleague onboard too.
He might be divisive. He might not be perfect. He might have a big head, but he is England’s best centre back and he showed it against Ireland.
Bumpy landing | Visionhaus/Getty Images
Has Raheem Sterling been at his best for Manchester City this season? Probably not.
Is he still England’s best attacker all things consider and one of very few genuinely world class talents? Probably, yeah.
Jordan Henderson definitely carries everyone else’s passports | Visionhaus/Getty Images
England’s vice-captain Jordan Henderson has started the season in great shape for Liverpool and is a leader of men.
Southgate may shuffle his pack for the ‘lesser’ fixtures but you better believe Hendo – who was England’s Player of the Year in 2019 – will be one of the first names on the teamsheet (and flight manifest) come tournament time.
Enjoy the space before the plane gets crowded | Pool/Getty Images
Back and better than ever, the delay of the Euros was a blessing in disguise for Harry Kane (and all of England) with the Spurs striker crocked last spring.
Now, don’t hurt yourself again!