An England XI from outside the European Super League

Date published: Monday 19th April 2021 3:14 - Sarah Winterburn


If UEFA stand firm and prevent European Super League footballers from playing for England, we will have to put together a new XI. And finally, England’s massive list of right-backs comes in handy. We have options even after ruling out the long-term injured Tariq Lamptey and James Justin…


Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (Everton)
You can argue all you like about Nick Pope but Gareth Southgate loves Jordan Pickford and he is incredibly lucky that no European Super League team would ever touch Jordan Pickford with a bargepole.


Right-back: Matty Cash (Aston Villa)
Some will argue for Luke Ayling but Matty Cash has been absolutely outstanding for Aston Villa, who have the third-best defensive record in the Premier League. And as Cash played many, many times for Nottingham Forest as a wing-back or winger, he is the perfect option for when Southgate realises he has no choice to play a 5-4-1 formation to avoid getting battered by, well, everybody.


Centre-back: Conor Coady (Wolves)
As we wrote in our last England ladder: ‘Preferred to Tyrone Mings to start the San Marino clash so appears to be ahead of the Aston Villa man right now, especially if Southgate is still harbouring plans (he clearly is) to play three at the back.’ He is in. And we look forward to him being asked if he still supports Liverpool Red Stars.


Centre-back: Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa)
Not even the best centre-back at Villa but Our Gareth is a creature of habit and he habitually thinks that Mings is deserving of an England place despite his tendency to throw in at least one rick every game. Poor Ezri Konsa.


Left-back: Matt Targett (Aston Villa)
With no Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell – off competing in the Evil Super League – Southgate will turn back to Aston Villa once again to find Matt Targett, who actually played under Gareth Southgate at England Under-21 level, back when England Under-21 level was not roughly League One standard.


Central midfield: Declan Rice (West Ham)
And here is where an utter lack of English defensive midfielders at leading clubs plays right into Southgate’s hands; he already has nobody better than Declan Rice. And that is now a reason for celebration rather than commiseration.


Central midfield: Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United)
Played more minutes than any other outfield player across England’s three World Cup qualifiers in March. And we absolutely did not see that coming. He is already way ahead of Eric Dier even without the potentially crippling ban on European Super League players.


Central midfield: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
All hail Borussia Dortmund and their principles. As we wrote last week: ‘The talk around Bellingham’s European Championship prospects seems to suggest that this summer’s tournament comes too soon for the teenager. Which is an easy way to avoid the awkwardness of dropping someone else. But he certainly looks ready now so why wait?’ England may soon have no choice.


Right wing: Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
All hail Borussia Dortmund and their principles again. After being pushed to the outside looking in with England, Sancho would be quite the asset in an XI decimated by the European Super League.


Left wing: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)
An awful lot would rest on the skinny shoulders of Grealish in this non-Big Six side. It’s a bloody good job that he is really rather good. Like really good. Like almost Kevin de Bruyne good. No pressure, Jack.

Gareth Southgate congratulates England attacker Jack Grealish


Striker: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton)
Four goals in four starts for England so Southgate would hardly be slumming it with the Everton man while Harry Kane was off battling for 17th place in the European Super League. And there is back-up aplenty with Ollie Watkins, Patrick Bamford, Callum Wilson and Danny Ings all available.


Substitutes: Pope, Ayling, Keane, Ward-Prowse, Maddison, Antonio, Watkins.


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