Collymore says Southgate is spot on with England squad selection

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With the domestic season virtually at an end, all thoughts will soon turn to Euro 2024, and despite appearing to spring a couple of surprises, Stan Collymore believes that Gareth Southgate has got his squad selection spot on.

It’s often said that international managers tend to play the big names rather than those in form, but on this occasion Southgate has bucked the trend.

The most glaring omission would seem to be that of Man United ace, Marcus Rashford, though with only eight club goals scored all season, per WhoScored, as well as a dip in performance levels, it’s hard to disagree with the manager’s decision.

Southgate has got it right says Collymore

“I think that probably over the last 12 months the narrative is that Jordan Henderson is a great person to have in the dressing room, a great tourist with fantastic experience, but you’ve got to have players that can go out there and do the business. When you go to Saudi Arabia, that tells you something about where the player’s form is at,” Collymore said to CaughtOffside for his exclusive column.

“I would much rather miss out on the experienced head around the dressing room, which is a little bit of a myth anyway. They’re all senior players, they will all add something and there’s plenty of experience in the squad anyway with the likes of Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice, despite their relative youth.

“That’s without likes of Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier. So the good tourist thing that I didn’t buy really. I went with it for the last year because Henderson has been a good servant to the country.

“In terms of Marcus Rashford, I think that we are so blessed in forward positions with an embarrassment of riches; Jack Grealish, Cole Palmer, Jarrod Bowen…

“Depending on whether Gareth Southgate plays a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, it’s going to throw up an interesting conundrum.

“Does he play Rice and Bellingham technically as holders with either having the ability to then move forward into the number 10 position, or does he put Phil Foden as the 10? Against Croatia, Foden played on the right of an attacking three, but he could also play centrally or to the left because he’s that versatile.

England manager Gareth Southgate

“Rashford has the ability to be able to score goals and go on runs, but I just think on this occasion, it was quite refreshing to see Gareth say ‘there are players in this position that are playing better’ rather than the old chestnut of being ‘a valued member of the squad and he was unlucky on this occasion.’

“Ultimately when you’re a player, if you’re getting dropped from squads, that’s what you want to hear – either that you’re good enough to get in or you haven’t had a great season and we’re going to let you down gently. I like that ruthlessness.

“Overall with regards to the squad, I like the fact that Wharton, Eze and Ezri Konsa are coming in, whether or not they go to Germany or are just part of an extended squad.

“The constant evolution is important as it puts players under pressure and keeps them hungry.”

Of course, as with any international squad selection, if the country in question then doesn’t go on to do well at the tournament, in this case Euro 2024, the manager will get it in the neck from the press.

Sven Goran Eriksson famously picked Arsenal’s Theo Walcott for the 2006 World Cup squad, despite the then 17-year-old having not played for the Gunners senior team, and the Swede attempted to explain his reasoning to Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports.

The omission of players such as Rashford, Raheem Sterling and others is the biggest of calls from Southgate but sometimes fortune favours the brave.

England will be amongst the favourites to win the tournament if all of their players stay fit, and so trust has to be place in the manager and the backroom staff.

There will be cogent reasons why they’ve gone with the players that they have, and all will be expected to step up and do the business.

As Collymore noted, Southgate has shown the ruthlessness that’s evidently been long overdue, and the flip side of his gamble is that the manager could be hailed a hero if it all works out.

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