Trent Alexander-Arnold was one of four specialist right backs selected in England’s final 26-man squad for the European Championship on Tuesday, while Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson were included despite ongoing fitness concerns which make them doubtful for group-stage matches.
The seven players cut from the provisional 33-man squad named last week by England coach Gareth Southgate were strikers Mason Greenwood and Ollie Watkins, midfielders James Ward-Prowse and Jesse Lingard, defenders Ben White and Ben Godfrey, and goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
The biggest intrigue surrounded Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool’s creative and attacking full back, who was omitted for England’s games in March but finished the Premier League season strongly and was picked in the enlarged group along with three other right backs — Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Reece James.
All four will wind up going to the tournament, with Southgate talking up each of the players’ versatility such as James potentially playing in midfield, Walker at left back and Trippier at wing back.
“Basically they are in our best 26 footballers and that is why they are in the squad,” Southgate said, adding with a laugh: “If I could have picked a fifth or sixth right back, I probably would have done.”
Southgate is among those who has previously suggested Alexander-Arnold might be deployed as a midfielder in the future given his vision and eye for goal. He has never played as a midfielder in his senior Liverpool career, though, only at youth-team level.
Alexander-Arnold, Southgate said, was informed three weeks ago that he would be picked in the squad.
“Always believe in yourself. Silence the doubters,” the Liverpool player tweeted after being selected.
Maguire missed the final five games of Manchester United’s season — including last week’s Europa League final — because of an ankle ligament injury while Henderson, Liverpool’s captain, hasn’t played since February due to a groin problem.
Southgate picked both of them, even though they are unlikely to be available for England’s first Group D game against Croatia on June 13. Indeed, when asked if Maguire would play a part in the group stage or was being picked for later in the tournament, the England coach said: “We don’t know that yet.”
“He has a bit to do,” Southgate said. “It’s like Hendo, they’ve both got a bit to do, really, to be available. But we feel there’s the possibility they can play a part and the fact that they are such fantastic characters to have around the group.
“Hendo’s leadership, his presence, is having an effect on other people, especially the younger ones in the group. So given we were able to pick 26, we felt the opportunity to have those two with us was straightforward.”
Greenwood officially withdrew from contention early Tuesday “in order to recover fully from an underlying injury,” his club, Manchester United, said. Southgate said he knew on Friday that Greenwood would not be available.
Southgate had given himself an extra week to decide his final 26 players because 12 potential picks were playing in European club finals last week, with United, Manchester City and Chelsea.
One player he sounded especially excited about was Jude Bellingham, a 17-year-old midfielder who has already established himself as a regular at Borussia Dortmund and who was particularly impressive in the team’s Champions League quarterfinal matches against Man City.
“He is phenomenal,” Southgate said. “Just in training the last couple of days, to have a 17-year-old compete with senior players — he not only has the technique but the competitiveness, the maturity. He is a hugely exciting player and we aren’t just taking him for the experience.”
England will play a Euro 2020 warmup against Austria on Wednesday, and another against Romania on Sunday.
After the Croatia game at Wembley Stadium, Southgate’s team plays Scotland and the Czech Republic at the same venue. There’s also a potential round of 16 match at Wembley for England, while the semifinals and final will all be played there.
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Bromwich Albion), Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolverhampton), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atlético Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham)
Forwards: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
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