After England’s last tournament embarrassment in Brazil, it would be fair to assume for any other nation that the pressure is off for our roaring lions… but this isn't just any other nation.
Yes, it's nearly time for the 2016 UEFA European Championships in France and from now, possibly until the middle of May, there will be one major question on everybody’s lips.
You guessed it! Who’s going to be in the squad? Whilst the unbelievable, on-going Premier League season keeps giving us drama and leaving us in disbelief with last year’s champions Chelsea currently sitting in an astonishing 13th place, and Leicester of all teams occupying the top spot in the league. As each month comes to a climax, the interest in who is going to be in England’s squad grows.
So whom should Roy pick to come with him for next summer? Well, after many hours of tireless research and countless back and forth decisions, we finally came up with the team that we would take to France and why.
Here is our complete 23-man squad:
· Joe Hart
· Jack Butland
· Fraser Forster
· Nathaniel Clyne
· Kyle Walker
· John Stones
· Chris Smalling
· Gary Cahill
· Phil Jones
· Leighton Baines
· Luke Shaw
· Eric Dier
· Dele Ali
· Ross Barkley
· Jordan Henderson
· Jack Wilshere
· Raheem Sterling
· Jesse Lingard
· Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
· Theo Walcott
· Wayne Rooney
· Harry Kane
· Jamie Vardy
We believe that most of that squad above have a definite chance to be involved in the England squad bar a few, mainly due to injury. But they all have a genuine case for a call-up and here they are.
It seems like such a long time ago, since Luke Shaw suffered a double leg fracture in Manchester United’s Champions League fixture against PSV Eindhoven last September.
The former Southampton full back has been slowly recovering from his severe injury, and reports say that Shaw is set to return to the first team by as soon as March.
We know that this would only leave just over two months for Shaw to prove himself, but before his injury Shaw had begun the season with a string of successful performances and looked to be building some real momentum. Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not Shaw can pick up from where he left off.
However, there are a number of ready and able left backs itching to go to France who could definitely argue a case to be in the squad. Notable names include, Tottenham’s Danny Rose, Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand and Arsenal’s Kieron Gibbs.
Perhaps it would be unfair to pick Shaw ahead of these aforementioned talents, but in order to have the best possible chance we feel Roy needs to take Shaw. His ability to get down the wing and help with attacks and not to mention his tackling abilities for us just gives him the edge.
Another player that has been blighted by injury this season is Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. The season started so well for the former Sunderland midfielder when he was named as Steven Gerrard’s successor to captain Liverpool. However, a recurring heel injury has seen Henderson miss most of the 2015-16 season.
Henderson deserves to be in England’s squad because he is young, but fairly experienced at national and international level. It is wrong to compare him to Gerrard, but we believe he definitely could be the focal point for England’s midfield and we definitely see him as a serious candidate for future England captain.
There is, of course, the argument for a real veteran to be included in the squad. Perhaps Manchester United’s Michael Carrick, or Liverpool’s James Milner, but we think that England need to go in a new direction and focus on younger talent. If the younger, inexperienced players do not receive game time at a big tournament such as the European Championship’s, then they will not be considered as experienced players for the World Cup in 2018. This would be a big mistake.
It appears that quite a pattern is being created. Arsenal midfielder, Jack Wilshere has been sidelined with a hairline fracture in his left fibula for six months, but in a recent interview has stated that his recovery is ‘going well’ and he is targeting a return to the Arsenal first team before the end of the season.
Wilshere has been most unfortunate with injuries, missing an astonishing total of 119 weeks. Tipped to be one of England’s greats from an early age, we honestly believe that if it wasn’t for those glass ankles of his, then he would already be a prominent player for both club and country.
Before he was ruled out in November 2015, Wilshere had been thriving in an England shirt, scoring a delightful brace for the Three Lions in a 3-2 comeback against Slovenia in mid-June of 2015.
We are firm admirers of Wilshere’s dribbling, vision and passing game; believing that a fully fit Wilshere, can tear any team to shreds. For that reason, we believe Roy should give the 24-year-old a place in his squad.
Apart from these three unlucky players, we believe that based on their current form and their performances this season; all of the players in this squad should definitely be going to France. We believe if England had these players in the squad then they would definitely better their absolutely woeful performance in Brazil, two years ago.
So there you have it; a youthful, but in-form, England squad ready to take it to their European opponents this summer.
England kick off their Euro 2016 campaign against Russia at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille, on Saturday 11th June.
The road to Euro 2016 is most definitely underway.
By Joshua Dainty