Wednesday 2 June 2021 12:06 pm

Trevor Steven: Gareth Southgate may regret naming four right-backs in England squad for Euro 2020 instead of Jesse Lingard or Danny Ings

On the face of it, it’s difficult to work out why Gareth Southgate has named four right-backs in his England squad for Euro 2020.

While Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold are all talented players, each is also taking up a space that could have gone to someone else.

If only two of them end up playing at Euro 2020 then I’ll feel that Southgate has overcooked it. 

But I am convinced he must envisage playing one or two of them in a three-man defence, and we know that Walker and James can do that.

Alexander-Arnold is the one whose place in the England squad was most in doubt. 

He is better going forward than defending and his best form for Liverpool has come alongside a rock-solid centre-back pairing. England don’t have that, so his inclusion does bring an element of risk.

So has Southgate missed a trick by hoarding right-backs? Only time will tell, but Jesse Lingard is entitled to feel aggrieved at not making the England squad.

Lingard has rebuilt his confidence in a brilliant loan spell at West Ham, only to have it punctured on the eve of Euro 2020 by Southgate omitting him.

He’s the sort of bubbly character that helps to keep up morale during long tournaments, as Gazza used to.

The other position that England may have overlooked is striker. 

If Harry Kane gets injured, Dominic Calvert-Lewin will likely play through the middle. Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford can play there too, but neither are naturals.

Danny Ings, a terrific finisher, could have played the role of super-sub when England need a poacher. I’d have left out one of the right-backs in favour of including Lingard or Ings.

England squad light in central defence and midfield

If there is a position of concern in this England squad then it is centre-back. 

John Stones and Harry Maguire are the obvious first choices but there is a big question mark over Maguire’s fitness. That leaves Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady, as well as the options of Walker and James.

The problem is that I’m not sure who else Southgate could have picked. I like Coady, though, who has done well when he has come in and is a great talker.

My other concern is about central midfield and Jordan Henderson.

When he is on a run of games Henderson is terrific, as good as anyone in that position. But the Liverpool skipper has not played since February and that worries me.

Of Southgate’s other options, Declan Rice looks a clear starter. Kalvin Phillips is very solid and has lots to his game.

Mason Mount has had a sensational season. Jude Bellingham, however, is untested to a large degree.

Southgate facing tactical teaser at Euro 2020

If every player in this England squad fires then we are as good as anybody at Euro 2020. 

Southgate has got the cream of the crop, perhaps the best array of talent since the Golden Generation.

The challenge is how to accommodate them in the most effective way in a tournament that demands you hit the ground running.

There are no weak teams, unlike at the World Cup, so there is no easy way of picking up momentum.

I was part of England teams that found this out in 1988, when we lost our opening game against the Republic of Ireland, and 1992, when we drew with Denmark and France.

Any manager knows they will be called out for not having a Plan B or C.

Southgate, I am sure, will have done more tactical homework than ever for Euro 2020.

I expect that he will not only have a Plan B but also a Plan C and possibly D and E too.

Players nowadays are better at adapting to new shapes and systems. 

If England struggle, Southgate has to be brave enough to make early changes and use his many options on the bench. 

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