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Five England players who could benefit from expanded squads at Euro 2024

UEFA have agreed to an expansion of squads for this summer’s European Championship with competing nations now permitted to take 26 players to the tournament.

The governing body had reverted back to 23-man squads, much to the frustration of head coaches, having allowed 26-player parties as an emergency measure for the Covid-impacted tournament of 2021.

However, a vote has passed to reinstate 26-man squads for this summer’s finals. The three-player increase has improved the chances of making the plane for several stars and we’ve picked out the English players who could benefit from the decision.

Five England players who could benefit from the expanded squads for Euro 2024:

Ivan Toney (Brentford)

The expectation was that Gareth Southgate would select just two out-and-out centre-forwards for the summer before the change in squad size. Harry Kane is the first name in the squad, while the fantastic form of Ollie Watkins this season means there would be an outcry if the Aston Villa forward, who leads the Premier League for non-penalty goals and assists this season, was not included.

Though the likes of Cole Palmer, Jarrod Bowen, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Gordon can all operate centrally if required, the increase to 26 players could tempt Southgate to take another recognised number nine.

The England manager is clearly a fan of Toney, having included him for March’s internationals, and the 28-year-old scored his first international goal from the penalty spot against Belgium. A return of four goals from 14 games since his return from a long ban is underwhelming, but there’s an x-factor to Toney and a temperament that appears suited to the demands of a pressure tournament.

Dominic Solanke, after a record-breaking season for Bournemouth, is another who could benefit.

Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton)

Jarrad Branthwaite’s form at Everton was recognised with a maiden international call-up in March, though the fixtures with Brazil and Belgium passed without a debut.

The centre-back’s failure to take to the pitch came as a surprise, in what was the final chance for Southgate to experiment before his Euro 2024 squad is named. However, the expanded squad could allow Branthwaite to force his way into the squad.

The 21-year-old has been outstanding in an Everton side who have overcome Premier League sanctions to secure their Premier League status, with only Arsenal having recorded more clean sheets. A natural left-sided option could be invaluable.

Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

Luke Shaw faces a race against time to be fit for the European Championship as the left-back recovers from his latest setback. Shaw has missed much of the campaign with muscular issues and last featured in February, casting doubt on his involvement this summer.

Southgate will not want to take risks with his selection but after Ben Chilwell underwhelmed in his audition in the spring, he could take a chance on Shaw’s fitness, who has performed well in past tournaments. Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag confirmed recently that the defender is nearing a return.

“He’s going to be right on the edge of the season. We know now to play seven matches in a Euros is highly unlikely,” Southgate said on Shaw in March.

“I thought Ben defended really well and it was an important game for him. I don’t want to kill Ben. But Luke’s one of the best left-backs in world football, frankly.”

Anthony Gordon (Newcastle)

Anthony Gordon took his chance during March’s internationals with impressive opening performances in an England shirt. The winger has been excellent for Newcastle this season with 10 goals and nine assists in the Premier League, while his comfortability right across the forward line offers him an advantage in a competitive race for selection.

Gordon was named Player of the Tournament as England’s u-21 side won the European Championship last summer and looks ready to step up to the senior tournament this time around. On current form, he has to be ahead of England regulars Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford.

Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace)

Eberechi Eze was left out of the squad for March’s fixtures in a decision that seemed to spell the end of his hopes of featuring at Euro 2024. On the fringes of the squad, the Crystal Palace midfielder has become a forgotten figure among a wealth of attacking options in midfield, though has found form during the Premier League run-in.

Eze has six goals in his last 11 league appearances and will hope to have caught the eye of the England manager. Despite missing periods of the season through injury, only five players have completed more take-ons than Eze in the Premier League this season. His ability to take defenders out of the game with dribbles could be welcomed in tournament football.

Read – A Premier League XI of players out of contract this summer

See more – Premier League spending cap explained as clubs agree to scrap controversial PSR

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