Five years is a long time in football, and predictions can soon be made to look pretty daft. That’s certainly the case with one or two of the names in talkSPORT’s predicted Euro 2024 England XI.
Back in October 2019, the broadcaster published a piece on their website predicted who would get into Gareth Southgate’s teams for the 2022 World Cup and Euro 2024. They weren’t a million miles off with their shouts for the World Cup, but a number of names for Euro 2024 are looking increasingly unlikely.
Here’s that XI in full.
GK: Dean Henderson
As good as Jordan Pickford has been for England over the years, there’s always been a nagging sense that he could lose his place if a truly world-class goalkeeper emerged.
Back in 2019, there was a logic in anointing Henderson as a potential successor to Pickford. He was outstanding for Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United as they got promoted to the Premier League and finished 9th in their first season back up.
As expected, the ‘keeper went on to play for England, while he briefly challenged David de Gea for the No.1 spot at Manchester United. But things haven’t quite taken off from there. After losing that battle with De Gea, he cut a frustrated figure as a bench warmer.
Henderson has barely played in 2023 due to injuries, having left Manchester United for Crystal Palace in the summer. An England recall looks a long way off at this point, but not unthinkable in the future.
Aaron Ramsdale emerged as the likeliest challenger to Pickford, but that looks less likely now that he’s playing back-up to David Raya at Arsenal. Pickford’s spot between the sticks looks safe for another tournament.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Expect to see the Liverpool man in England’s Euro 2024 squad. But not as a right-back. Alexander-Arnold has been listed as a midfielder in England’s recent squad announcements, a role he’s thrived in after Jurgen Klopp experimented with a new role.
Southgate revealed he twice talked Kyle Walker out of retirement – and next summer’s tournament may well be his international swansong. There’s also Reece James and Kieran Trippier to contend with. Don’t expect to see Alexander-Arnold lining up on the right side of England’s defence again any time again soon.
🗣️ "He's keen to do it, he's enjoyed the project." 🏴
Does Trent Alexander-Arnold have a future in midfield?
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 17, 2023
CB: John Stones
The Manchester City defender has made 56 appearances under Southgate. Only Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Walker and Pickford have made more. And Stones has just got better and better over the years, reaching new peaks by excelling in a midfield hybrid role in City’s historic 2022-23 treble-winning campaign.
There are questions to be answered over who starts in defence at Euro 2024, but Stones’ place is secure.
CB: Fikayo Tomori
Frank Lampard was still in charge of Chelsea, the first time around, when talkSPORT’s piece was originally published. The former England international helped bring through Tomori whilst he was on loan at Derby County before giving him opportunities at his parent club.
The defender was establishing himself as the star of the future back then, something he’s since realised with a starring role for AC Milan as they won a Scudetto and reached a Champions League semi-final.
Despite that, Southgate has curiously been reluctant to use Tomori. He was regularly left out of squads and has only earned three caps, though he’s been called up over the last two international breaks and is a safe bet for next summer’s squad. He may well be a candidate to start in Germany, too.
LB: Ben Chilwell
The left-back was still at Leicester City back in 2019, but was well on his way to challenging Luke Shaw for England. He received his first international cap back in 2018 and has now made 19 appearances for Southgate’s England.
It would have been a lot more were it not for recurring injury issues. He didn’t play a minute at Euro 2020 and a hamstring problem kept him sidelined for the 2022 World Cup. He’s nailed on for the Euro 2024 squad – if fit – yet still faces a battle to usurp Shaw.
RW: Jadon Sancho
This was a very reasonable shout at the time. Sancho was undoubtedly one of the most promising youngsters in Europe back in 2019, and sure enough, he became an England regular, representing them at Euro 2020, and earning a big-money move to Manchester United the same summer.
But it just hasn’t quite happened for the winger at Old Trafford. His poor form led to him missing out on the squad for the 2022 World Cup last year and he now appears the longest of long shots to make it to the next Euros.
Sancho’s days at Manchester United appear numbered. A loan back to Borussia Dortmund in January has been mooted and it would be no surprise at all to see him rekindle his career in a different environment, but he’d have to do a lot in a very short space of time to make it back in Southgate’s plans next summer.
Marcus Rashford is firmly ahead of Sancho in the pecking order for club and country.
CM: Conor Gallagher
“Gallagher certainly has the potential to be an international star in the future,” was – to be fair – a strong shout given that he was on loan at Charlton at the time. He now regularly captains Chelsea and consistently gets called up from Southgate.
Gallagher has his doubters, but given the faith that the England manager has shown, you’d expect him to make the squad next summer. A starting berth in the midfield, given Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham’s form, looks much less likely.
🗣️ “Every football game you play is an opportunity to impress. I always try to impress Gareth [Southgate].”
Conor Gallagher says he is hopeful he will be given a chance to play for England during the international break. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/mV86PHwPSb
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 11, 2023
CM: Phil Foden
There’s still some debate over whether to class Foden as a midfielder or a forward, with some of Southgate’s critics suggesting that he ought to go all-out and field Foden in midfield alongside Bellingham and Rice, behind three attackers.
We can’t quite see that happening, with the 23-year-old seemingly seen more as an option to challenge the wide forwards. Already one of the most decorated English footballers of all time, Foden will certainly be on the plane to Germany. But there remains a sense that he’s still fighting to prove he ought to be a bonafide starter.
LW: Callum Hudson-Odoi
“Callum Hudson-Odoi looks like the real deal and as he is just 18 he will start entering his peak for the tournament,” claimed talkSPORT.
It’s crazy to think that the winger is still just 22 years old, given that it feels like he’s already been around forever. These early development years haven’t quite gone as expected, though, and after some time on the periphery at Chelsea he left to join Nottingham Forest.
He’s made a bright start for Steve Cooper’s side but would have to do something spectacular this season to get back into Three Lions contention. He hasn’t been capped since 2019 and remains eligible to make the switch to Ghana, the nation of his parentage.
“That decision hasn’t been made yet. I’m still thinking it over,” Hudson-Odoi told The Telegraph in September.
“Ghana is a very good option but let’s wait and see. Hopefully once I start playing games here, maybe Gareth [Southgate] or Ghana will come. It’s a nice position to be in and hopefully sooner or later we will know.”
ST: Raheem Sterling
Only four players have made more England appearances under Southgate than Sterling, but he currently finds himself out in the cold.
The 28-year-old still has plenty of time on his side to make it back in, and his recent exclusions have been the topic of some debate after his uptick in form for Chelsea. There’s every chance that Sterling will make his way back into Southgate’s good books in time for Euro 2024, but a spot back in the starting XI looks a tall order.
❌ Raheem Sterling
Gareth Southgate on his decision to leave out the Chelsea forward once again. 🏴 pic.twitter.com/qGV31cGQZx
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 5, 2023
ST: Mason Greenwood
A new report from The Athletic suggests that Jamaica are considering calling up Greenwood. The Manchester United loanee’s England days are surely behind him.
“Harry Kane would be 31 by the time this tournament comes around and may not be guaranteed a place in the starting XI,” said talkSPORT in 2019. Bit rash, that. Now a €100million striker at Bayern Munich, the captain remains the first name on Southgate’s teamsheet.