A completely foreign-based England squad for Euro 2020

Date published: Tuesday 30th March 2021 12:29 - Matthew Stead

Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho compete for the ball

England have enough players plying their trade abroad to make up a competent tournament squad for Euro 2020. Danny Drinkwater misses out on a technicality.

 

With English players heading abroad like it’s the late 1980s and there’s a ban on clubs taking part in European competition, the Three Lions have rarely had a pool that stretches quite so far.

Euro 2020 was intended to be a pan-continental extravaganza across 12 host cities. UEFA still insist that is the plan. England have, of course, offered to stage the entire tournament themselves. So perhaps if football came home then the hosts could name a squad in keeping with the original theme?

What follows is a 23-man tournament side comprised of players plying their trade outside of Great Britain and Ireland. Those on loan from British or Irish clubs are also excluded, such as Fikayo Tomori and the like. There is no room for Steven Caulker. We are as devastated as you.

 

Charlie Setford (Ajax)
Born in Haarlem a day before Southampton ended Newcastle’s Champions League hopes by holding them to a 3-3 draw at St Mary’s, Charlie Setford is one of two goalkeeping siblings on Ajax’s books. Tommy Setford, 15, has an inherent drive “to be better than his brother”, yet it will take some doing to match the hype surrounding Charlie, who turns 17 in May. He has featured regularly at every level of the club’s youth system and is the subject of an international wrangle, having made four appearances for the Netherlands U15 and U16 sides while staying unbeaten in five games for England U16s.

“I had a better feeling about England,” he said last year. “In addition, I had the idea that there were more opportunities for me there,” the teenager added, which seems fair considering Tim Krul’s discovery of anti-ageing technology.

 

Will Mannion (Pafos)
In his two appearances for England U19 in late 2016, Will Mannion had a fine view of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Tom Davies among many others. While that pair have been able to firmly establish themselves on Merseyside since, the 22-year-old goalkeeper’s career has taken him to Cyprus after playing a single League Cup game for Hull in four years. He is yet to make his debut for Pafos FC, kept out of the mid-table side by the more experienced Artur Rudko.

 

Jonathan Bond (LA Galaxy)
A more familiar name, perhaps. Jonathan Bond was a Premier League player – at least in concept – until as late as mid-January. The 27-year-old counts Watford, Reading and West Brom as his permanent clubs in England during a 12-year stretch littered with five loan spells. After four appearances in the Conference, five in League Two, 50 in League One and 36 in the Championship, his Premier League opportunity finally presented itself at The Hawthorns upon their promotion last season. The seven-cap England youth international and one-time Wales call-up failed to even make a top-flight bench before he understandably upped sticks and left for America.

 

Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)
You might have heard of him. Kieran Trippier currently sits neatly between Glenn Hoddle and Des Walker in terms of most England caps while playing for a foreign club. Gareth Southgate will forever be in his debt for Russia 2018.

 

Kamil Corekci (Trabzonspor)
As difficult as it would be to persuade Kamil Corekci to overlook his 63 Turkey youth international caps and two appearances for the country’s B side, all to play second fiddle at right-back, it would be worth a shot. The 29-year-old cut his teeth in south London, starting with Fulham in 2001 and making the switch to Millwall in 2008. But after supposedly being let go by The Lions due to his height, Corekci has spent the subsequent decade carving out a successful career in Turkey, culminating in a national cup win with Trabzonspor in 2020. The London-born defender can even fill in at left-back or midfield when needed.

 

Chris Smalling (Roma)
Between them, Southgate and Jose Mourinho have helped shape perceptions of Chris Smalling. The latter once claimed that he told the centre-half “with your feet, we’re for sure not playing out from the back” before Manchester United beat Ajax in the 2017 Europa League final, while the former has since apologised for his rather ham-handed reasoning for dropping him from England duty in 2017. The 31-year-old has both rehabilitated and solidified his reputation at Roma, performing excellently when not struggling with various injuries. It is not long ago that he was “in the top three centre-halves in the world”.

 

Reece Oxford (Augsburg)
More than five-and-a-half years have passed since a 16-year-old Reece Oxford placed Mesut Ozil snugly in his pocket on his Premier League debut. The midfielder put in an exceptional and mature performance that outlined a promising top-flight and international future. Yet he played just 16 more games in four years with the Hammers, his development curiously stalling to the point where loans with Reading and Borussia Monchengladbach yielded just five and eight games respectively in 2016/17 and 2017/18. At 22 and with 35 England youth caps there is still time for Oxford to realise his immense potential. Augsburg will hope it is with them; he has found success and opportunities in the Bundesliga by dropping back into their defence this season.

 

Easah Suliman (Vitoria)
Considering Tim Sherwood was the first manager to pick him in a first-team match-day squad and his senior debut came under Steve Bruce, one might justifiably suggest that Easah Suliman was always up against it at Aston Villa. His only other games for the club came last season in the EFL Trophy, which ultimately confirmed his decision to broaden horizons and head for Portugal. Vitoria Guimaraes have happily found a role for the first British Asian to captain an England team, although the opening goalscorer in the victorious 2017 U19 Euros final has lost his starting place of late.

 

Jonathan Panzo (Dijon)
England also finished as runners-up in the 2017 U17 Euros, as if to further underline the degree to which Aidy Boothroyd has failed to guide the next generation of the country’s talent line. Named in the Team of the Tournament were six Young Lions: U21 stalwart Marc Guehi, established Premier League players Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden, Chelsea product George McEachran and defender Jonathan Panzo. He was able to lift the U17 World Cup later that year, this time at left-back instead of centre-half, much to the chagrin of Danny Murphy.

Panzo has struggled to replicate that glory at club level, leaving Chelsea in 2018 after eight years in their academy to battle for a chance at Monaco and Cercle Brugge before landing on Dijon. Seventeen appearances this season, albeit for a club at the bottom of Ligue Un and on a ten-game losing streak, suggests he is cutting the mustard. They have only conceded two more goals than Montpellier in eighth.

 

Ashley Young (Inter Milan)
Scoff all you want but he has played 27 times this season for an Antonio Conte team currently top of Serie A by six points with a game in hand.

Ashley Young holds the ball

 

George Cox (Fortuna Sittard)
Once earmarked as Brighton’s next breakout star, George Cox might have made it with the Seagulls were it not for an irregular heartbeat that required imminent and potentially life-threatening surgery. The left-back had been called up for first-team training when the issue was identified and thankfully corrected. After a brief loan spell with Northampton to rebuild his fitness, he headed for Fortuna Sittard and has never looked back. They are 11th in the Eredivisie and clear of relegation, in no small part thanks to Cox’s contribution. The 23-year-old has missed just one match all season, with three strikes against Ajax and PSV among his five goals and five assists.

 

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Our mistake: he joined Manchester United last August.

 

Noni Madueke (PSV)
Bayern Munich, Leeds and Crystal Palace are the quite eclectic trio apparently leading the race to sign Noni Madueke this summer. The 19-year-old has seven goals and six assists in 19 Eredivisie games this season, pitching in with some fine Europa League performances as he continues to justify the decision that saw him leave Tottenham in summer 2018 and reject Manchester United in favour of joining PSV. It is a dreadful but probably fitting shame that his first experience with England U21s during this month’s European Championship group stages have been so cripplingly disappointing.

 

Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
He is quite good.

 

Ronaldo Vieira (Verona, on loan from Sampdoria)
With such a fate-tempting name, Ronaldo Vieira seemed destined to go far when he joined Benfica’s academy. The midfielder was born in Guinea-Bissau but found chances in Portugal and qualifies for England after moving in 2011 to join Whitley Bay Boys Club. From there he switched to Batley Phoenix and had unsuccessful trials with Manchester City and Hull, eventually getting a breakthrough with Leeds after some time at the i2i Football Academy in York. Two fine seasons at Elland Road followed, winning the Young Player of the Year award in 2017 and being nominated again a year later, before Sampdoria tempted new head coach Marcelo Bielsa with a £7m offer in summer 2018. Vieira has most certainly held his own in Serie A, although injury problems have tarnished his time with Verona.

 

DJ Buffonge (NAC Breda)
There has to be something about you for Arsenal, Fulham and Manchester United to commit so much time to your development. DJ Buffonge started with the Gunners as a youngster, spending five years at Craven Cottage and four at Old Trafford thereafter. The central midfielder was even invited to train with the United first-team squad by Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer yet never realised that potential before his release in 2019. Serie B side Spezia took a chance, only for NAC Breda to sign him a year later. He is more of a squad player but it is a decent gig; they are third and locked in a Dutch second-division promotion battle.

DJ Buffonge makes a tackle

 

Jacob Maddox (Vitoria)
One in every five people have been a Chelsea academy prospect at some point. Jacob Maddox had the standard Stamford Bridge experience: seven years, zero appearances and three loans leading up to his eventual quiet release last summer. Vitoria Guimaraes continued their collection of English prospects by signing the midfielder to a squad that already included the aforementioned Suliman, the ‘Mini Messi’ that has been omitted from this side, and former Tottenham, Coventry and Plymouth player Ruben Lameiras. Maddox, 22, has been incredibly unfortunate with an injury that has sidelined him since December, but his time will come.

 

Stephy Mavididi (Montpellier)
Only nine English players have scored more league goals for a team in Europe’s top five divisions this season than Stephy Mavididi, who ranks above Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Scott Dann in that regard. The Arsenal academy graduate never did debut for the Gunners but showed enough for Juventus to sign him in the same summer as Cristiano Ronaldo. He at least made a solitary Serie A appearance there, enough to become the first English player since David Platt in 1992, six years before he was born, to feature for the Old Lady. A loan with Dijon helped Mavididi acquire a taste for French football, with Montpellier the current beneficiaries of his skill set.

“My ultimate goal is to get into England’s senior team,” he said last December, “but for now the best pathway is the Under-21s so I want to try and get into that squad.” He’s probably best off out of it right now.

 

Demarai Gray (Bayer Leverkusen)
Since leaving Leicester in January, Demarai Gray has made the most of a period out of the Premier League glare. He has played nine games in the Bundesliga and Europa League for Bayer Leverkusen, scoring one goal and assisting two. It seems likely that the 24-year-old will have his initial 18-month contract extended when appropriate, with the winger also on that recent list of players being considered for an international call by Jamaica. Who else remembers Gray as part of the senior England squad in September 2018?

 

Angel Gomes (Boavista, on loan from Lille)
It was clear that Manchester United had high hopes for Angel Gomes the moment he replaced Wayne Rooney as a late substitute against Crystal Palace in May 2017. In the process he became the club’s youngest player since Duncan Edwards and the first born in the 2000s to appear in the Premier League for any club. A professional deal followed that December but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reticence to play Gomes resulted in him leaving in summer 2019. Chelsea sparked something of a panic with their interest until the 20-year-old chose Lille, an immediate loan to Boavista, as his next destinations.

On his league debut for the latter he recorded a hat-trick of assists, with one of his four goals this season coming in a phenomenal performance at home to Benfica. While Boavista are locked in a relegation battle, Gomes has been one of their leading lights.

 

Rhys Healey (Toulouse)
Third in Ligue 2 and three points behind leaders Troyes, Toulouse have every chance of earning instant promotion back to the French top flight after last season’s premature but entirely fair relegation. Fuelling those aspirations is 26-year-old Rhys Healey, whose ten goals have been invaluable. The striker only joined in August after a single fruitful year with MK Dons, having first spent more than half a decade with Cardiff.

 

Noah Ohio (Vitesse, on loan from Leipzig)
Glorious name and, by the looks of things so far, glorious player. There will be an inevitable eligibility battle over Noah Ohio, whose seven goals in 13 games for England U16, Netherlands U15 and U16 combined speak to his prodigious quality. The striker could also opt for Nigeria and may have other countries frantically searching for some vague familial link if an 18-month loan spell with Vitesse from Leipzig goes well. The 18-year-old only made that move in January and has made four substitute appearances after producing silly numbers at youth level.

 

Reo Griffiths (Lyon)
The aforementioned Marcus Edwards can count himself unfortunate to miss out, along with Danny Loader of Porto and Borussia Dortmund’s Bradley Fink. England’s abundance of attacking options extends throughout the age groups and Reo Griffiths is among the most intriguing prospects. The forward left Tottenham in 2018 for Lyon and has taken his chances with the club’s reserves in France’s fourth tier since. A return to England was mooted last summer but Griffiths stayed, netted six goals in nine Championnat National 2 games from August to October to finish joint-top scorer and was even made captain of the side at one point. Motherwell tried to get him on loan in January to no avail as the 20-year-old continues to try and justify the Tottenham hype.

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