The England Under-21s are into their first Euros final since 2009 and ahead of their clash with Spain on Saturday we’ve pondered which of Lee Carsley’s 23-man squad might make it on to the plane with Harry Kane and the senior lads for the Euros proper in 2024.
We’ve ranked them from least to most likely…
23) Josh Griffiths (West Bromwich Albion)
Made 10 Championship appearances for the Baggies last season but would need quite a few goalkeeping injuries to be in with any chance at all.
22) Carl Rushworth (Brighton and Hove Albion)
See above but has potential top-flight experience in his favour, though the arrival of Bart Verbruggen from Anderlecht will mean a watching brief in the main if he doesn’t go out on loan.
21) Max Aarons (Norwich City)
England have a lot of right-backs.
20) Luke Thomas (Leicester City)
England have a lot of right-backs.
19) Charlie Cresswell (Leeds United)
Set for a major role at Leeds this season having impressed on loan at Millwall, but it will be a tall order to surpass John Stones, Marc Guehi and Ben White in that right centre-back role, with Trevoh Chalobah, Joe Gomez and fellow U21 Taylor Harwood-Bellis also currently above him in the pecking order.
18) Tommy Doyle (Manchester City)
Doyle was excellent in Sheffield United’s promotion campaign and Paul Heckingbottom wants him back at Bramall Lane. Another move away from City is Doyle’s only chance of a place at Euro 2024 and even then it’s a slim one.
17) James Garner (Everton)
Frank Lampard signed him for £10m from Manchester United last summer but Garner barely played until Sean Dyche took over. Game time may well be on his side but being good enough at football may not.
16) Angel Gomes (Lille)
Fair f***s to the guy for leaving Man Utd for Lille as a teenager and after a successful loan spell at Boavista in 2020/21 Gomes started 34 Ligue 1 games for Lille last term, operating in multiple midfield roles. Kick on further this season and you never know. Though we sort of do and it’s probably not going to happen.
15) Ben Johnson (West Ham United)
Links with Arsenal seem farfetched but perhaps point to a general dearth of left-backs that’s being keenly felt by Gareth Southgate and England. After Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell they’re struggling a bit.
14) Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Manchester City)
Burnley want to keep him after his key role in getting them up but Everton and Wolves are also keen on a £15m move. With Josko Gvardiol arriving at the Etihad, Harwood-Bellis has to leave to stand any chance of an England spot, and that’s still unlikely given he’s a right-sider.
13) Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur)
Premier League experience may be enough if some sort of midfield plague befalls the England squad on the eve of the tournament.
12) Cameron Archer (Aston Villa)
Lee Carsley would rather not play with the only striker in his squad which is pretty telling but Archer has half a chance of being selected for the seniors by default. When Harry Kane packs it in England really are f***ed. Evan Ferguson’s mother is English, FYI.
11) Cole Palmer (Manchester City)
If reports of Palmer leaving City on loan are true then he’s about to increase his chances. If reports of Palmer leaving for Brighton on loan are true those chances increase further.
10) Harvey Elliott (Liverpool)
Made 32 appearances for Liverpool last season, mainly in midfield, but the rebuild will surely deplete his game time next term. He’s in the frustrating middle ground of being too good to loan out but not good enough to start, and Southgate won’t pick those he hasn’t seen.
9) Emile Smith Rowe (Arsenal)
“Maybe it is inside, maybe it’s wide. I’ll be having that conversation when I get back,” said Smith Rowe when asked about his best position at Arsenal, presumably open to anything having realised his path to the first team has been further blocked by the arrivals of Kai Havertz and Declan Rice this summer. Probably requires significant injuries first at his club and then for his country to be given a shot.
8) Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton)
Started 21 games on loan at PSV last term and Jurgen Klopp is apparently interested in signing him for Liverpool. Left-footed centre-backs are hard to come by.
7) Anthony Gordon (Newcastle United)
We’re still far from convinced but he now plays for a top club and is set to earn some Champions League experience this season, which will both be factors for Southgate.
6) James Trafford (Manchester City)
He’s all but completed a £15m move to Burnley from City, who have included a buyback clause, which tells you something about the high regard they hold the goalkeeper in. Very high on this list given he’s spent the last two seasons on loan in League One, but after Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope we’re into your Fraser Forsters and Joe Harts.
5) Noni Madueke (Chelsea)
One of the only Chelsea players to come out of last season with any credit, Madueke is very quick and very direct, much like Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford. He could be an able deputy for either, assuming he gets enough game time under Poch to impress.
4) Curtis Jones (Liverpool)
He took F365’s slam personally and looked to be in the best form of his Liverpool career at the end of last season. He’s got a job on his hands to play as regularly this season but won’t be a million miles away if he features enough under Klopp.
3) Morgan Gibbs-White (Nottingham Forest)
Many people scoffed at the £28m fee but Gibbs-White turned out to be one of the signings of last season, with his five goals and eight assists crucial in keeping Nottingham Forest up. “We think it’s a little bit early for him with us but we’re watching him closely,” Southgate said back in March.
2) Jacob Ramsey (Aston Villa)
“I think at this moment in time Conor Gallagher is slightly ahead,” Southgate said when asked why Ramsey hadn’t been selected back in March. That may well remain the case as we can only guess Pochettino’s plans for Gallagher, but Ramsey will surely be pushing if he continues to improve at the rate of the last two seasons.
1) Levi Colwill (Chelsea)
Whether he’s Chelsea’s man to build around or Virgil van Dijk’s successor at Liverpool, Colwill is England’s future left-sided centre-back. He’s left-footed, which is a good start, but is also ludicrously composed in possession, physically dominant and has a wonderful passing range. Southgate will be desperate for Colwill to get game time this season, wherever he is.