Football Features

Winners and losers from the final pre-Euros England squad

By Harry Edwards

Published: 14:49, 14 March 2024

Gareth Southgate has named his squad for England’s upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Belgium.

While there are two more friendlies to come in June, they are around the deadline for the Euro 2024 squad confirmation. So this is the last chance for Southgate to really get a look at some fringe players before his decision in a couple of months.

England will be allowed to take 23 players to the Euros, but for this break Southgate has named 25. There are a few new faces in the squad and some big names left out.

One of the big names left out is Ben White, but that was his own decision, as Southgate explained.

“Clearly on form I can’t sit here and say he doesn’t deserve to be in. We had a call from [Arsenal’s sporting director] Edu last week saying Ben didn’t want to be considered for England squads at the moment,” he said.

“For me that’s a great shame. He’s a player I really like. He’s a player we took to Euros when he was at Brighton. He’s a player we took to the World Cup.

“I spoke to him post Qatar and there was reticence from his side. I don’t know why that is, but I respect that. I leave the door open because he’s a good player.

“He’s a good player and I think he’s a player that can make a difference to England, but he’s not available to us. The only thing I would say is there’s no issue between us at all and also should say there’s no issue with Steve Holland.

“There is no issue between us at all and there’s also no issue with [assistant manager] Steve Holland, which has been mentioned in articles and I don’t like that.

“That has been mentioned in articles and I don’t like that. People can talk about me. I have to accept that things get said and are false about me and for whatever reason in this role you have to stomach that, but I’m not prepared for that to happen to a key member of my coaching team, because that is not the reason Ben is not available for selection.”

He added: “[If White was available] he would be in this squad.”

During the previous England squad announcement last November, Southgate was asked if White was available for selection and confirmed he had been left out for footballing reasons, explaining, “I assume so. Ben’s been very solid for Arsenal. He’s a different profile of full-back. He’s a centre-back playing at full-back really. He’s obviously doing a good job for his club, he’s just behind a couple others in our reckoning.”

But what about the rest of the squad. Who are the biggest winners and losers?

Winner: Ivan Toney

Ivan Toney has been handed his third England call up and his first since the Euro 2024 qualifiers this time last year, just before his ban.

The Brentford striker had a good return to football at the start of 2024, with four goals in his first five games. That included strikes against Tottenham and Liverpool. He hasn’t scored in his past four games, but this is clearly Southgate giving Toney a chance to make it to the Euros squad.

However, Southgate did note that he may only have space in the squad for one of Toney or Ollie Watkins alongside Harry Kane.

Winner: Jarrad Branthwaite

It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but Jarrad Branthwaite has finally got his first England senior call up. The Everton man only made his U21 debut last summer, but his performances for his club meant it was only a matter of time for Southgate to take notice.

Branthwaite has been playing above his age at the back for Everton, looking strong even when they have struggled. His performances have also caught the eye of a number of clubs, and Everton face a battle to keep him this summer. If he has England caps to his name? That could boost Everton’s asking price.

“He’s played consistently well,” Southgate said of Branthwaite.

“We watched him as a back-up centre-half for the under-21s. If you said a year ago he would consistently play in the Premier League, I would have been surprised.

“Credit to Sean Dyche. He’s in on merit. We’re looking forward to having a look at him.”

Winner: Aaron Ramsdale

Now this is an interesting one. Ramsdale doesn’t really play for Arsenal, and his most recent match saw him make headlines for the wrong reason with a mistake. But, at the same time, England don’t really have fit goalkeeping options.

Jordan Pickford is number one, and Nick Pope is injured, so the Everton shot-stopper needs competition. And Ramsdale is a reliable deputy for England, having been in the squad in October and November despite falling out of favour at club level.

Winner: Anthony Gordon

Another player getting a first senior call up is Anthony Gordon. Like Branthwaite, Gordon has been plying his trade in the U21s, and was the start at the Euros last summer.

He scored in the group stage and quarter-final, as England went all the way to win the U21 Euros, beating Spain in the final. Gordon was named Player of the Tournament and also earned a spot in the Team of the Tournament.

Gordon’s been thriving at Newcastle this season too. At times, Gordon was carrying the Magpies on his own, with nine goals and five assists so far in the Premier League.


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Loser: Kalvin Phillips

Even when he was out of favour at Manchester City, barely getting any minutes, Kalvin Phillips was still named in the England squad. It was a point of contention and annoyance for a lot of England fans, as other midfielders were missing out.

But now he has been dropped. This time, it isn’t due to lack of playing, rather lack of form. Phillips’ loan move to West Ham hasn’t worked out, with a mistake on his debut and a red card within his first four matches.

“I think he knows exactly what we think of him, a good version of him is an important player for us. We don’t have many players of that profile,” Southgate said of Phillips.

“Unfortunately, his form just hasn’t been good enough. I’ve spoken to him, he knows that. I said to him towards the end of last year, if he didn’t play at City, it was going to be a problem.”

Loser: Harvey Elliott

Harvey Elliott is likely to be named in Lee Carsley’s U21 squad for their Euro qualifiers this month, but it feels like this is a loss.

Elliott has been brilliant for Liverpool, particularly of late when they needed someone to light things up in midfield. Former Liverpool midfielder Glen Johnson believes Elliott has been world class of late, and isn’t getting credit for his work.

“Probably not, to be honest,” Johnson told Squawka when asked if Elliott had been getting the credit he deserves.

“Because the last few games, I think he’s been world class. He does the simple things very, very well, and people take that for granted. His short passes, his short little movements, if you’re watching him, his head’s always on a turn.

“He knows exactly where people are. He’s brave to get on the ball, and brave to get on the ball in a huge game like the one at the weekend. Someone like Diaz, of course they catch your eye. And Nunez, of course they get the limelight, and that’s fine.

“But I think there’s a lot of work that Harvey does that he doesn’t get credit for.”

Snubbed for a call up, Johnson might be right.

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