Tuesday, July 16, 2024
HomeInternationalFour unused England players Southgate should turn to against Slovenia

Four unused England players Southgate should turn to against Slovenia

Gareth Southgate has come under fire following England’s start to Euro 2024. Sure, the Three Lions are unbeaten and sit top of Group C but there’s been little convincing about their performances to date.

Lacking cohesion and balance in multiple areas of the pitch, Southgate’s selections might have been his best players but it has not correlated to his best team. Eight outfield members of Southgate’s squad are yet to play a single minute at the tournament but there are several who should come into his thinking for the clash with Slovenia on Tuesday evening.

Four unused England players Southgate should turn to against Slovenia:

Luke Shaw

Luke Shaw’s absence has been down to injury rather than selection and England will be hoping the Manchester United left-back can be available for the Slovenia showdown. Shaw has been Southgate’s first-choice option at left-back and an impressive performer at recent tournaments, with his absence felt, as Kieran Trippier has been shifted into an unfamiliar role on the opposite flank.

The lack of a left-footed left-back has been painfully obvious, as Trippier has checked back, cut inside, and denied England of width. Shaw has not featured in the Premier League since February and trained away from the rest of the squad this week. It would represent a huge risk to throw Shaw straight in for a knockout tie, so Slovenia appears the obvious chance to run the rule over his fitness – provided he receives the approval of England’s medical team.

Cole Palmer

Cole Palmer must be thinking what he has to do to get an opportunity this summer. The breakout star of the Premier League season, Palmer ended the 2023-24 campaign with more goals and assists (33) than any other player in the division.

The 22-year-old scored his first England goal from the penalty spot in the warm-up win over Bosnia but has been restricted to a watching brief as the Three Lions have laboured against Serbia and Denmark in their opening two fixtures.

That the roles Palmer occupies for Chelsea are currently held by Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham offer an explanation for his snub so far, but there’s little doubt Palmer is a player who can make a difference in this tournament. His debut season at Chelsea has been defined by creative quality and nerveless moments and Palmer – so unfazed by pressure in his career to date – can add fearlessness to a team under fire.

Anthony Gordon

Southgate’s selections so far have featured square pegs in round holes, with Phil Foden’s use from the left-wing a criticism of his team. Foden has featured from that position for Manchester City but his best football – that saw him named Premier League Player of the Season in 2023-24 – has come from a central role.

The 23-year-old’s desire to come infield for involvement has left England lacking width, particularly given the presence of the right-footed Kieran Trippier at left-back. Anthony Gordon offers a touchline-hugging alternative, while the Newcastle winger’s direct football and willingness to run in behind would offer England an alternative threat, with Harry Kane lacking the legs to stretch defences.

Adam Wharton

Adam Wharton’s meteoric rise has taken the 20-year-old from a Championship relegation battle to the England squad within six months. Wharton’s instant impact after signing for Crystal Palace in January earned him a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad with the England coaching staff impressed by the midfielder in preparation for the tournament.

Southgate’s experiment with Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield has not worked out as hoped, with the Liverpool star looking uncomfortable in tight areas of the pitch and lacking the runners in behind further forward to make the most of his expansive passing range.

Wharton offers a more natural fit alongside Declan Rice and could allow the latter to enjoy a more marauding role, increasing England’s intensity and pressure higher up the pitch.

Wharton’s simplistic style, offering one and two-touch comfort at the base of the midfield, would provide the safety blanket for Rice to venture further forward.

Though he has featured for just 28 minutes as a senior international, Wharton has proven himself to be unfazed in the Premier League. He ranks in the 95th percentile of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for tackles per game since arriving at Palace.

Read – Southgate admits Alexander-Arnold midfield role is an experiment

See more – ‘Sign of a good team’ – Kane calm despite another flat England performance

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