Gareth Southgate faces selection dilemmas ahead of squad announcement

Much of England’s World Cup squad are either not playing well or AT ALL: Gareth Southgate looking at three names to fix centre-back issues, while Morgan Gibbs-White and Ollie Watkins are also on his radar… so who will get the call-up?

  • Gareth Southgate faces selection dilemma in central defence for England 
  • Southgate will pick his first England squad since the World Cup on Thursday
  • Morgan Gibbs-White and Ollie Watkins are in the frame for possible inclusion 
  • The Three Lions face Italy and Ukraine in Euro 2024 qualifiers later this month  

England will be back in action later this month when they begin their qualifying campaign for Euro 2024. 

The Three Lions face games away in Italy on 23 March before playing host to Ukraine four days later in their opening Group C games.

Gareth Southgate will name his squad for the two clashes on Thursday, the first squad announcement since December’s World Cup exit and the first since Southgate made his decision to stay on as England boss. 

Ahead of the announcement, Southgate has a number of selection dilemmas to contemplate, as he looks to start building the next chapter for the Three Lions and a squad capable of another crack at winning a major tournament. 

Sportsmail looks at the possible conundrums Southgate needs to solve in his first post-World Cup squad.  

Gareth Southgate has decisions to make ahead of naming his first England squad since Qatar 

Who’s at the back? 

Southgate is keen to freshen-up the centre of England’s defence, feeling it’s a position that needs evolving for his Three Lions side.  

The England boss took John Stones, Harry Maguire, Eric Dier and Conor Coady to Qatar in December and all would remain in contention but come with some doubts since their World Cup selection. 

The 52-year-old remains a fan of Maguire, who enjoyed a credible tournament in the winter, but he has made just five starts for Manchester United since returning from the finals and Southgate’s credibility could come into question again if he were to pick the United captain. 

Dier’s form has also been inconsistent this season and he is unlikely to make it to the Euros, while Coady has lost his place in Everton’s XI since the arrival of Sean Dyche at Goodison Park and Stones is only just returning from injury for Manchester City. 

There is concern though over the next available options for Southgate. Fikayo Tomori remains on the England radar following his excellent display that saw AC Milan dump Spurs out of the Champions League last week, but there are some doubts over his ability in possession. 

Southgate is said to be a fan of Brighton’s Levi Colwill, although having just come through an injury himself it could be a squad too early for the centre-back. 

Crystal Palace captain Marc Guehi could also come back into contention after missing out on the World Cup squad, and Tyrone Mings has found some form in Aston Villa’s defence since Unai Emery took over as boss.  

Harry Maguire is out of favour at Man Utd while John Stones has only just returned from injury 

Fikayo Tomori’s impressive displays for AC Milan could see him back in contention for England

Back to the full-backs 

Whether he likes it or not Southgate will have to deal with the Kyle Walker situation, because he will get questions about it one way or the other. 

The Manchester City defender has found himself in hot water over an alleged indecent exposure incident, something which The FA have said is City’s problem, but will be difficult for the England boss to avoid. 

Ben White has been in fine form in Arsenal’s title-chasing team, but left the World Cup squad under a cloud, which may present another issue for Southgate’s selection. 

However, Reece James and Ben Chilwell’s return to fitness is a timely boost for the England manager and both should be included alongside Luke Shaw.

This could leave Walker and White at risk along with Kieran Trippier and once again Trent Alexander-Arnold on whether they make the cut this week. 

Southgate will have to deal with questions about Kyle Walker’s situation ahead of the fixtures 

Men in the middle 

The problems in midfield come with how many minutes Southgate’s usual suspects are currently playing for their clubs. 

Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips and Conor Gallagher have all struggled for starts since the World Cup and only Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham feel like they’ll be dead certs to make Thursday’s squad. 

Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott has seen a lot of game time for Jurgen Klopp this season and is well liked within the England camp, as is Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White who has impressed in their resurgence. Jacob Ramsey is another favourite, too, but this squad may be too early for the Aston Villa man.

Euro 2024 will be a tournament too far for Jordan Henderson, but there still could be a place for James Ward-Prowse. 

Mason Mount has been a constant for Southgate but has faced a lack of game time at Chelsea 

Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White is someone who is on Gareth Southgate’s radar 

All about Kane?

A lot of the focus around England’s upcoming fixtures will be around the England captain, as Harry Kane looks to score the goal that would surpass Wayne Rooney and make him the country’s all-time leading goal-scorer. 

Kane couldn’t come into the games in better form, having notched twice in the 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest at the weekend, he’s now notched up 22 goals in all competitions this season – and become Spurs’ record goal-scorer in the process. 

Marcus Rashford’s inclusion will be a no-brainer given the incredible form he’s been in since the World Cup. It’s now 25 goals for the season for the Man United forward. 

With Rashford primed to start, there is still a place for the ‘Harry Kane back-up’ role in Southgate’s squad. Callum Wilson filled that void in Qatar but has struggled in front of goal since the turn of the year. 

Ivan Toney is someone still waiting his first England cap, but his inclusion could be muddied by the on-going gambling punishments the Brentford man is facing from The FA. 

That leaves the in-form Ollie Watkins to return to the England fold, having notched nine times for Aston Villa so far this campaign.  

Three Lions skipper Harry Kane is just one goal off becoming England’s record goal-scorer 

Ollie Watkins has hit form at the right time and could be in contention for an England recall 

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