Predicting the next ten England debutants as squad evolves again for Euro 2024

Matt Stead
Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah and Rob Holding

England will go again at Euro 2024 but the squad could do with a refresh in those 18 months, starting with an Arsenal back-up whose fortunes have turned.


10) Max Kilman
The agonising but necessary phasing out of Harry Maguire
begs the question as to who takes his place. Therein lies part of the problem: England’s relatively shallow pool of options at centre-half.

With 18 months to the next international tournament, the hope would be for Fikayo Tomori, Marc Guehi, Ben White, Joe Gomez or any of those excellent players on the periphery of the squad to be given a proper chance and clear run at establishing themselves in the starting line-up.

But there is an opportunity for someone to force their way into the reckoning under Gareth Southgate, who might finally consider breaking up his trusted defensive partnership. Maguire and John Stones both have 53 England caps under the manager, with Eric Dier (37), Tyrone Mings (17) and Gary Cahill (13) next in terms of outright centre-halves. Change is long overdue.

Max Kilman could exploit that gap, described as “very much on our radar” by Southgate in March and “one of a number that we tracked closely”. If Julen Lopetegui – no, you had to check who the Wolves manager was – can restore his new club and, by extension, Kilman to something close to their former heights, the 25-year-old could theoretically be a natural fit as that most coveted commodity: a left-footed centre-half.


9) Rico Henry
A fine tournament from Luke Shaw should cement his place at left-back but England went into a World Cup quarter-final against reigning champions France with Kieran Trippier as back-up. The 32-year-old has been a brilliant member of this squad and his renaissance with Atletico Madrid and Newcastle warrants his inclusion, but not as an out-of-position understudy.

There is the Ben Chilwell factor; the Chelsea defender could renew that healthy competition with Shaw upon his return from injury. But even with Tyrick Mitchell lurking, it is worth rewarding Rico Henry’s excellence with an opportunity. England could benefit from that consistent influence in open play from a 25-year-old whose one-on-one defending is among the best around.


8) Jacob Ramsey
Rio Ferdinand had the Aston Villa midfielder in his World Cup squad and expects “big, big, big clubs, far bigger than Aston Villa, with all due respect,” to come calling soon. Jamie Carragher once said Jacob Ramsey “doesn’t look like a young kid playing in a man’s game,” and that international honours and the Champions League may beckon in a couple of years.

Things had slowed ever so slightly for Ramsey as Villa in general started to stutter and splutter under Steven Gerrard. But there was a glimpse into the effect focused coaching could have on the 21-year-old with his goal and assist in Unai Emery’s first Premier League game as Villa manager when they beat Manchester United 427 years ago. Stay on that track and he is destined to think his teammates were winding him up by phoning him and pretending to be Southgate.


7) Eberechi Eze
“If I’m honest, I’m not thinking about it. It’s difficult to focus on anything else other than my own game and me playing football. I just want to play my football and focus on being the best player that I can be, contribute to my team and that’s where I’m at right now.”

Eberechi Eze added, in a recent interview with the Daily Mail, that “it’s something I’m working towards, I want to perform and play at the big tournaments.” In an alternative timeline the Crystal Palace midfielder might already have achieved that aim, sitting as he has on two England back-up squads. But an Achilles injury in 2021 and circumstances 18 months later kept him out.

With no imminent tournament hazing the manager’s short-term vision, Eze could finally follow club teammates Guehi and Mitchell in sitting at the Conor Coady learning tree. Fifteen youth caps and a fine season thus far for a strong Palace side has strengthened the 24-year-old’s case – and those in charge were already fans.


6) Ivan Toney
It did come down to a penalty in the end, as some predicted with Machiavellian glee, but the likelihood of Ivan Toney being on the pitch when England had the chance to restore parity against France would have been nought whether he was in the squad or not.

The faintly strange decision to call up the striker but omit him entirely from the team which faced Italy, before leaving him on the bench for the pulsating pre-tournament draw with Germany, was widely criticised at the time. Toney could do little more to convince Southgate he is at least worth trying out as Harry Kane’s stand-in – even responding to the World Cup Snub in emphatic fashion before England headed out to Qatar.

His foot is in the door and his form demands a call-up. The sense that Southgate is not his biggest fan persists but only a fool would bet against Toney making more squads in the future. Poor choice of words but still.


5) Adam Webster
The centre-half issue is intriguing as the onus will be on others to force Southgate into a rethink; he has taken Maguire and Stones to three successive tournaments and will not relinquish the familiarity of that partnership so easily.

It is not really worth noting that Adam Webster was on England’s 55-man preliminary list when that selection also included Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck. It would have been difficult to be English and play in the Premier League and not make that squad. But Webster fully justified his consideration through years of performing with quiet distinction at Brighton. There is a reason Chelsea and Newcastle are interested and Carragher is obsessed.


4) Trevoh Chalobah
“We don’t think the young ones have done quite enough to push the older ones out,” was Southgate’s official reasoning for his World Cup centre-half selection. Again, the responsibility is on those less experienced players to grab the brass ring and guide their forefathers into international retirement.

Trevoh Chalobah is a curious case: a player trusted so implicitly by England manager contenders Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter at club level, with significant Champions League and knockout competition experience for an elite team, yet someone who doesn’t seem to have registered in England thoughts for longer than a moment.

His time off back in west London has been spent wisely, extending his Chelsea contract and, by his own admission, helping the club “re-charge” and “re-group” after a difficult end to the first portion of the season. Chalobah will hope to kick on and finally bring balance to the universe by at least matching his brother’s solitary England cap.


3) Eddie Nketiah
It is not an ideal position for England to be in. With the 29-year-old Kane approaching his home straight in terms of international tournaments as a guaranteed starter, the 30-year-old Callum Wilson seems to be next in the queue of replacements. Behind him, there is a  ‘fight’ for places between Toney, Tammy Abraham, Ollie Watkins, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Patrick Bamford. Dominic Solanke might not be far off a recall and Jamie Vardy probably shouldn’t put his Union Jack bottle of Skittles vodka away just yet.

England’s attack has been revitalised with the addition of phenomenally talented yet impossibly mature youth, but the centre-forward around whom they will be expected to buzz is going to take some shifting.

The conditions may dictate that Eddie Nketiah has the next shot at dislodging Kane. The 23-year-old has been almost a permanent substitute for Arsenal in the Premier League this season but an injury to Gabriel Jesus could precipitate the longest unbroken run in the starting line-up of his senior career thus far.

Nketiah does not have to shatter records with a prolific run; he is hardly replacing a Gunners goal machine. If he holds his own and plays an important part for the Premier League leaders over the coming months, his 35 goals in 38 England youth caps should do the rest.


2) Ryan Sessegnon
It hardly feels possible that Ryan Sessegnon has been a genuine outside shout for an England squad place at two successive World Cups, but such is the Tottenham wing-back’s longevity and talent that he will enter a third cycle on the edge of inclusion.

“I started working with him when he was 16 years and two months or something like that and I believe he can be part of the English national team for the World Cup,” said Slavisa Jokanovic four years ago, then Fulham manager and a fair few coaches ago for Sessegnon, now a veteran of almost 200 career games at 22.

There was no consternation at Sessegnon missing out on Russia or Qatar. Both came too soon in different ways. He was 18 and had never played in the Premier League in one instance; he had only just settled into the Tottenham side in the other. His task is simple: move beyond those niggling injuries which can haunt teenage prodigies and play regularly for a top-flight Champions League force. He really is almost there – in a position England need to strengthen, no less.


1) Harvey Elliott
The Curtis Jones caveat is there: even after 81 appearances of increasing importance and responsibility for his elite club, that particular Liverpool midfielder is not currently close to being England adjacent. But Harvey Elliott, two years younger and already more established under Jurgen Klopp, is firmly on track for eventual international recognition.

Some pundits expressed bemusement at Elliott being overlooked this winter and Sky Sports stated that the 19-year-old is ‘very much in the thoughts of the England manager’ in September. As a new tournament rotation begins, this could be the midfielder’s chance.

Imagine a midfield of Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice and Elliott. Stunning. After all, it surely isn’t possible to be a regular for Liverpool and not curry favour with Southgate.