Raheem Sterling is the only player on this list not in England’s plans. Gareth Southgate has his favourites and tends to stick with them…
10) Marcus Rashford (2738 minutes)
Tenth in minutes but third in England goalscorers under Gareth Southgate behind Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. In truly rotten form for his club in 2023/24 but is always trusted by the England manager, playing more minutes in Euro 2024 qualifying than James Maddison or Jack Grealish. A fifth major tournament at the age of 26 is almost guaranteed.
9) Jordan Henderson (3441 minutes)
He’s had periods out of the starting XI and even out of the England squad but Gareth Southgate has always turned back towards the former Liverpool captain like a lovely red comfort blanket. And he cannot break the habit even when the blanket is a Saudi green. He was booed on his 50th international appearance under Southgate and we absolutely back that booing.
8) Kieran Trippier (3482 minutes)
Whether at right-back, left-back, right wing-back or left wing-back, Trippier has largely been a mainstay of Southgate’s England. With Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold much younger men, it was thought Trippier might be phased out but Southgate trusts Trent more as a midfielder than a right-back. Though it was telling that the older Kyle Walker – by four months – was preferred as soon as he was even vaguely fit in Qatar.
7) Declan Rice (3887 minutes)
Only the second player on this list under the age of 27 and the only one not at the 2018 World Cup, where a midfield trio of Henderson, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard sent Southgate cap in hand to the not-very-Irish Irish international midfielder. It took some time for most but Southgate to be convinced of his worth but by the time Euro 2020 belatedly came around, he was integral to the way England play. The only real problem now is that there is no back-up. So don’t get broken, Declan.
6) Raheem Sterling (4196 minutes)
A big old leap to the Big Old Six there, with Sterling earning 55 of his 82 caps under Southgate. As it says here, ‘the bright young spark in 2014 became the scapegoat in 2016, the potential attacking weak spot in 2018, the national hero in 2020 and then, through no fault of his own, an outmoded elder statesman in 2022′. But he now seems to be on the outside of the England set-up, wondering how he got jettisoned while in excellent form for Chelsea while Henderson gets to outstay his welcome.
5) John Stones (4785 minutes)
There was a spell when he lost his way for both club and country but mercifully Stones timed that blip between international tournaments. At three major tournaments he has been pretty much imperious, with Southgate recognising the classy and calm player Stones has become under Pep Guardiola. Even at the age of 29, we believe that Stones is a player to build around; he can squeeze out another Euros and a World Cup at least.
4) Kyle Walker (5215 minutes)
If the World Cup illustrated anything it is that Walker remains a) really f**ing quick and b) absolutely trusted by Southgate, who has frequently rested the Yorkshireman through qualification campaigns, but always with the caveat that he does not need to play Walker in every single game because he knows exactly what he can do. He will be an easy player to discard when Southgate is replaced but we will absolutely miss his ludicrous pace (and chest control).
3) Jordan Pickford (5355 minutes)
Often questioned by outsiders but almost never doubted by Southgate, who has nurtured England’s best tournament goalkeeper since Peter Shilton. He could easily spend the next eight years between England’s posts, getting really angry at occasionally being asked to do his actual job.
2) Harry Maguire (5478 minutes)
Southgate won’t ditch Maguire because international football suits the Manchester United captain (though he was poor v North Macedonia). Though saying that, we would still like to see a credible alternative emerge as even though he was better than we could have reasonably expected in Qatar, he also was at least partially responsible for almost all the goals England conceded.
1) Harry Kane (5914 minutes)
The man. The don. England’s only real striker with an astonishing 57 goals in 72 games under Southgate. Just don’t ask him to take more than one penalty in a game.