England’s starters ranked on likelihood of missing out on Gareth Southgate’s first XI for Switzerland

Lewis Oldham
England Euro 2024 starting XI.
Could Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and/or Kobbie Mainoo drop out of Gareth Southgate's first XI?

England’s stuttering Euro 2024 campaign rolls on into the quarter-finals after Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane sparred Gareth Southgate’s blushes at the end of yet another disappointing performance in the round of 16 against Slovakia.

Tournament dark horses Switzerland will be far less forgiving than Slovakia and a huge improvement is required from England on Saturday if Southgate’s misfiring squad are to beat a team that comfortably beat Euro 2020 winners Italy last time out.

Southgate has remained stubborn while refusing to make mass changes so far at Euro 2024. This is despite the Clamour for multiple alterations growing increasingly deafening with each game that has passed, with The Three Lions crawling through the tournament in a depressingly uninspiring fashion.

A suspension means at least one change is certain for England’s quarter-final, but who else could miss out? Attempting to get in the mind of Southgate, we have ranked his previous starting XI from least to most likely to not be on the pitch from the first whistle against Switzerland. And now we might have a change of formation to take into account


11) John Stones
A one-game suspension picked up by England’s best player makes Stones even less likely to be dropped than he was heading into the round of 16. He’ll likely be joined at centre-back by Aston Villa’s Ezri Konsa for Switzerland as he’s been used more regularly by Southgate than his other centre-back options after Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite was harshly omitted from the final 26-man squad.

He may even find himself with two buddies at the back.


10) Jordan Pickford
England have had more than their fair share of issues at Euro 2024, but Everton goalkeeper and long-term number one Pickford is not one of them.

Previous opponents have not tested him but he’ll have to be on his game in the next round and he’s certain to play with Southgate lacking a suitable in-form alternative.


9) Harry Kane
Kane’s all-round play has rightly been questioned at Euro 2024, but he is not getting anywhere near enough support from the players behind him and showed again that he is an elite finisher with his priceless winning goal against Slovakia. Some want him partnered with another striker with a ‘bold formation change’ demanded, though.


8) Declan Rice
Arsenal’s £100m man has established himself as a sure-fire starter for England. While he’s yet to almost single-handedly dominate a game at Euro 2024, he provides back-foot coach Southgate with a safety blanket in front of the back four and is one guaranteed cog in the centre-midfield department.


7) Jude Bellingham
The Real Madrid superstar has looked knackered and frustrated in recent matches as he’s been unable to match the impressive heights he reached in his match-winning display in the tournament opener against Serbia.

But had it not been for Bellingham’s supreme display against Serbia and his overhead kick leveller against Slovakia, England’s players would already be on the beach.

Talk over a potential suspension has needlessly ramped up post-Slovakia after he was seen making a gesture to the sidelines after scoring his goal. Will he be banned for the Switzerland match? Probably not. But this slimmest of possibilities makes him a tad more likely to drop out of the XI than the starters listed above.

READ: ‘Insta Stories’ man Jude Bellingham has ‘got a bit of the Ronaldos about him’


6) Kobbie Mainoo
Southgate finally saw the light ahead of his side’s round-of-16 tie, with Mainoo drafted in to start after Conor Gallagher failed to provide a solution to the Trent Alexander-Arnold experiment.

After impressing off the bench against Slovenia, Mainoo was one of England’s better performers in the round of 16 and should be one of the first names on the teamsheet for the Switzerland game. Even though the stats don’t agree.

But this position is the only one tinkered with by Southgate from the start of Euro 2024 and this uncertainty means Mainoo’s starting berth is slightly less likely than others, even though there would be a riot if Gallagher or Alexander-Arnold are brought back in.


5) Kyle Walker
The 34-year-old has justifiably earned plaudits in recent years as his unrelenting pace has not evaded him, with his performances for Manchester City and England ensuring he’s not been showing his age.

But the experienced defender may be feeling the effects of a prolonged season as he’s offered very little going forward and his defensive work has been uncharacteristically lax in recent matches.

With injury-prone Reece James out of the picture, few disputed Walker’s place as England’s starting right-back pre-tournament, but his concerning performances make Southgate’s insistence on using Alexander-Arnold in midfield even more baffling.

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4) Bukayo Saka
Since breaking out as England’s first-choice right winger, Saka’s place in the team has rarely been under threat, but he is at risk with Chelsea’s Cole Palmer outshining him off the bench in multiple matches.

Perhaps a player struggling for fitness, Arsenal’s star boy has not resembled the electric winger often seen in Premier League matches, but he’s been negatively impacted by Steve Holland’s feud with Ben White as his partnership with Walker is nowhere near as effective.

Southgate’s deployment of Saka in his old home at left-back at the end of the last match offered an intriguing insight into what may be to come, and it may only be the versatility provided by his favoured left foot that keeps him in the team.

📣TO THE COMMENTS! Who should Southgate drop for England vs Switzerland? Join the debate here


3) Phil Foden
Foden’s performance against Slovakia followed a similar theme as previous matches, with his best work coming through the middle of the pitch as he showed very little interest in hogging the left flank.

Anthony Gordon’s lack of game time is becoming even more frustrating as Southgate is one of few observers of this England team not of the view that the deployment of the Newcastle United star on the left would go some way to easing their issues on that side.

Southgate has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he has his favourites and Foden appears the latest of his players to receive preferential treatment. But similarly to the Alexander-Arnold situation, you’d hope the manager eventually sees the light and amends the left-wing position.


2) Kieran Trippier
Southgate has got plenty wrong at this tournament, but his decision not to include a natural (and most importantly, fit) left-back in his Euro 2024 squad has to be his worst.

Much of England’s issues on that side revolve around Trippier’s one-footed preference, which leaves Southgate’s side without an outlet on the flank while Foden drifts inside.

It feels somewhat harsh to dig out Trippier as he is doing all he can in this unfamiliar position, but Southgate should be considering thinking out of the box for a solution at left-back with Saka, perhaps. But the injury that forced the Newcastle man off against Slovakia may force his manager’s hand.

Luke Shaw might now be fit, but is a major tournament knock-out match the right place to make a comeback?


1) Marc Guehi
To add to Southgate’s defensive headache, he will be without a banned Guehi against Switzerland and he’ll be sorely missed.