England Euro 2024 squad: Predicting the Unfortunate Seven to be cut in Southgate’s final 26

Dave Tickner
James Maddison and Jarrod Bowen set to miss out for ENgland.
James Maddison and Jarrod Bowen set to miss out for ENgland.

By the end of this week Gareth Southgate must work out how to make 33 go into 26 and while some of his decisions may be straightforward – no offence, James Trafford – other decisions are far more ticklish with several players in several positions on the bubble.

Monday night’s game provided a few clues in terms of selection and some pretty big ones in terms of performance. We’ve changed our minds on a couple of 50-50 calls and reckon Southgate might have as well.

Reserving the right to completely change our mind again at least a dozen times before Saturday’s deadline, here’s our current prediction/guess on the seven unlucky names to miss out on a plane ticket to Germany…


James Trafford
Let’s start with the easy one because this gets a lot trickier from here on. Gareth Southgate has four goalkeepers in his 33 and will take three in his 26. The pecking order runs something along the lines of Jordan Pickford, daylight, Aaron Ramsdale, Dean Henderson, more daylight, James Trafford.

Only an injury to one of the other three could possibly get Trafford on the plane.


Jarell Quansah
Still in the realm of the relatively straightforward here. No harm, no foul. He will be an England player in the future and the time he’s spent with the squad will have done him absolutely no harm, but he’s now the conspicuously uncapped youngster among England’s motley crew of defensive all-sorts and surely set to watch this tournament from the beach.

Future summers may look very different, but we’d be hugely surprised to see Quansah make the cut in the here and now.

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Lewis Dunk
Now it gets trickier. Southgate’s big decisions for his final squad essentially boil down to two contrasting but equally vexing headaches. Which very good attacking players to leave out and which vaguely underwhelming defensive players to include?

Southgate clearly likes Dunk for his dependability and significant experience at club if not international level, but the harsh truth remains that he is a touch short of the highest level while also offering little of the versatility present among England’s other contenders.

We know Harry Maguire and John Stones are Southgate’s default, and we still suspect Marc Guehi is next off the rank despite looking a touch rusty against Bosnia after a lengthy lay-off.

That leaves Dunk up against Jarrad Branthwaite, Ezri Konsa and Joe Gomez for squad places. Branthwaite appears to be the future, and we are increasingly of the view that Southgate has now rather wasted a number of caps on Dunk that could have gone to Branthwaite. We can’t say we wouldn’t be nervous at the sight of Branthwaite being forced into action at the business end of the Euros, but we’d be less fearful than with Dunk and the Everton man also represents at the very least a theoretical future of England’s defence in a way Dunk never can.

The advantages of both Konsa and Gomez are obvious and more prosaic: versatility. Dunk is simply not good enough to be a one-position understudy in a squad where you’ve got players like Konsa and Gomez who can and have filled in adequately across the entire backline.

We’re still not at all sure Southgate sees it this way, but any nagging doubts the England boss may have had about Dunk must have been crystallised on Monday night when at times he appeared alarmingly stretched by some very limited opponents.


Curtis Jones
Back to the relatively straightforward here. We’d be surprised if England cut more than one from the midfield options given they were relatively sparse already and include Trent Alexander-Arnold, who may be required at right-back at any moment. But we’d be even more surprised if Southgate cuts none, and that means Jones is the obvious omission.

The only other member of the original 33 who appears vulnerable here is Adam Wharton, who would be the one to make way should Southgate want to squeeze one more defender or attacker into his list of options, but Wharton coming on for his debut ahead of Jones on Monday night felt like a meaningful pointer and he’s an all-round midfielder of rich promise with a higher ceiling and greater range than likely starter Conor Gallagher and certainly Jones.

Jarrod Bowen
He’d be unlucky, which is true of whichever attacking players miss out for England because as has been stated time and again the depth and breadth of England’s options is very silly indeed. But he looked uncomfortably close to a spare part for long periods against Bosnia on a night when Eberechi Eze, Cole Palmer and Jack Grealish all made far more compelling claims on the role of tournament difference-maker.

We’re choosing to read Anthony Gordon’s absence as definitely in rather than definitely out given he offers something very different and more direct than England’s various other options, but that does leave England’s attacking back-up skewing quite heavily left if Gordon, Eze and Grealish are all, as we expect, in the final 26.

Bowen is the most natural Bukayo Saka understudy available to England, but not a truly compelling one. Cole Palmer is the attacking version of England’s assorted defensive utility men and while Southgate clearly sees him primarily as Jude Bellingham’s back-up in that central No. 10-ish role, he could absolutely take Saka’s right-sided role without England missing a beat.


James Maddison
Like Bowen, Maddison may also be a bit of a victim of Palmer’s versatility. The uncomfortable truth for Maddison is that, after the way he struggled for consistent form after coming back from injury in the new year, he’s not really England’s first reserve in any position. He’s behind Bellingham and now Palmer in his preferred position between midfield and attack and can’t really compete with any of Eze, Grealish, Gordon or Bowen behind starters Phil Foden and Saka for the wide positions.

It would have seemed absurd to say back in October when he and Spurs were absolutely flying, but he now looks the easiest of all England’s attacking players to leave out. And Southgate is going to have to leave some of them out.


Ollie Watkins
There was some wild talk on Channel 4’s coverage of the Bosnia game that Southgate might take both Watkins and Ivan Toney. We just can’t see it. England have far more need of cover elsewhere than they do a back-up for a back-up.

The absence of Marcus Rashford perhaps offers a slight ray of light for the ‘three striker’ policy, but we’re pretty sure Southgate wouldn’t have taken the decision to leave Rashford out in the first place if he hadn’t seen enough from Palmer this season to suggest he could be the third-choice in extremis striker option.

We’re pretty sure it’s still Watkins or Toney. And despite their wildly contrasting 23/24 seasons, it’s still Watkins who looks the more vulnerable. Another England game largely passed him by on Monday night, and while neither man has a wealth of international experience, it is Toney who has most looked the part in the limited chances afforded to both men.

There is also the penalty factor, which is very relevant when considering the circumstances in which the second striker is likely to be deployed. The fact Toney is deadly from the spot and Watkins strikingly poor is a huge consideration.

Watkins could count himself deeply unfortunate if he is the man to miss out, especially for a man who had as underwhelming a comeback from a long-term ban as Toney. But while Watkins could hardly have done more this season with Villa to prove his pedigree, he could hardly have done less in an England shirt.

And that patchwork of the fairly obvious combined with increasingly desperate second-guessing and hunches all leaves us with…

F365’s England Euro 2024 squad

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale

Defenders: Jarrad Branthwaite, Joe Gomez, Marc Guehi, Ezri Konsa, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo, Declan Rice, Adam Wharton

Forwards: Eberechi Eze, Phil Foden, Anthony Gordon, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney

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