England’s Nations League clash with Iceland may have been a dead rubber but it was one of the few remaining chances to impress ahead of next summer’s European Championship.
The coronavirus-enforced switch to 2021 has undoubtedly benefitted some players and hampered others hoping to be involved in Gareth Southgate’s squad for a tournament that starts and ends at Wembley.
With the squad not meeting up again until March, the PA news agency takes a look at who is definitely on the England bus next summer as well as those holding a ticket and the few waiting at the bus stop just in case.
On the bus: Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Holding a ticket: Dean Henderson (Manchester United) and Nick Pope (Burnley)
At the bus stop: Alex McCarthy (Southampton) and Aaron Ramsdale (Sheffield United)
While many debate the merits of Jordan Pickford’s starting role, Southgate has kept faith with the goalkeeper despite a number of high-profile errors at Everton. That scrutiny is sure to continue over the winter, when nearest rival Nick Pope will be hoping for an upturn in fortunes at Burnley. It is hard to imagine the back-up missing out on the squad, so too Dean Henderson despite being restricted to just three appearances since returning to Manchester United. The 23-year-old will be wary, though, that if the lack of game-time continues then Alex McCarthy and Aaron Ramsdale will be among those snapping at his heels.
Some heatmap this 🤯
— England (@England) November 18, 2020
On the bus: Kyle Walker (Man City), Harry Maguire (Man United), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Holding a ticket: Conor Coady (Wolves), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Michael Keane (Everton), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), Reece James (Chelsea) and Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
At the bus stop: Luke Shaw (Man United), John Stones (Man City), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea) and Danny Rose (Tottenham)
Kyle Walker’s resurgence this season puts him in the squad along with Harry Maguire, who Southgate promoted to the England set-up with great effect ahead of the 2018 World Cup and has been backed ever since. Conor Coady – already part of the leadership group – and Michael Keane will hope they have done enough to be included given the use of a back three, while Joe Gomez would be a definite had it not been for the nasty knee injury sustained during England training last week. Eric Dier’s versatility should see him in along with right-backs Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Reece James has impressed during his first few appearances and adds extra competition for that wing-back role, while Ben Chilwell is a shoo-in at left-back. Bukayo Saka has impressed Southgate with his performances there in recent camps and Arsenal team-mate Ainsley Maitland-Niles could yet be an option, while Luke Shaw cannot be ruled out despite his lack of involvement given Southgate said he can still be England’s best left-back. World Cup semi-finalist Danny Rose will need a miraculous change in fortunes to earn a recall, while Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori is another needing regular minutes at club level.
— Mason Mount (@masonmount_10) November 18, 2020
On the bus: Mason Mount (Chelsea), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) and Phil Foden (Man City)
Holding a ticket: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool)
At the bus stop: James Maddison (Leicester), Ross Barkley (Aston Villa) and Dele Alli (Tottenham)
Experienced Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will have a key role to play and Declan Rice has established himself in the group, as has his best friend Mason Mount. An outstanding autumn surely means Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish will make the cut for a tournament, while Phil Foden has emerged off the naughty step in style and can rightly be confident of a place in the squad. Kalvin Phillips and James Ward-Prowse are not far behind after promising performances in recent camps. Jude Bellingham, only 17, will continue to push if he impresses at Borussia Dortmund, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will hope injury does not see him miss yet another major tournament. James Maddison and Ross Barkley are others with a chance of making it into a midfield that now looks set to be without 2018 World Cup players Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Fabian Delph.
On the bus: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Man United), Raheem Sterling (Man City) and Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Holding a ticket: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Danny Ings (Southampton) and Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
At the bus stop: Harvey Barnes (Leicester), Mason Greenwood (Man United), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle) and Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
If fit, England’s fab four of captain Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho will all be in the squad. Dominic Calvert-Lewin stands a good chance of joining them if the Everton striker can continue to build on his bright start to the season. Danny Ings and Tammy Abraham are others pushing to be involved at a tournament, which 19-year-old Mason Greenwood may yet play himself into contention for. The most intriguing outsider is Jamie Vardy. The striker, who turns 34 in January, called time on his international career after the World Cup in Russia to focus on club matters but Southgate has kept in touch and the door ajar for a return.