England off to a Strong Start in Bid for Euro 2024 Qualification
England has made an impressive start in their qualification bid for Euro 2024 next summer, winning their opening two matches against Italy and Ukraine. The squad has performed exceptionally well, especially during their win against Italy, achieving their first victory in Naples since 1961. While England still has a long way to go on their road to qualification, with a team of 26 expected to be named by Gareth Southgate, the starting XI have enhanced their reputation after their two victories.
Here, we take a closer look at the top 9 players in Southgate’s squad and how they are shaping up just over a year ahead of the tournament in Germany.
1. Harry Kane (NON-MOVER)
Harry Kane is undoubtedly England’s top striker and his two goals against Italy and Ukraine have further cemented his position as the greatest England striker of all time. With no legitimate challenger to his centre-forward position, he is a shoo-in for the starting XI.
2. Bukayo Saka (UP FIVE)
Bukayo Saka has been in stunning form this season with Arsenal and he appears to be a nailed-on starter in the England attack. He was a constant thorn in Italy’s side during the first half in Naples and he played a pivotal role in breaking down Ukraine’s stubborn defence to assist Kane’s goal and score a stunning finish himself.
3. Jude Bellingham (DOWN ONE)
Bellingham has been impressive for England and Borussia Dortmund, with a maturity beyond his tender 19 years of age. His demotion is more about the rise of Saka than his own performances, but he remains a key player in Southgate’s squad.
4. Jordan Pickford (NON-MOVER)
Despite inconsistent performances for Everton, Pickford has proven to be a reliable goalkeeper for England. He displays an air of authority and comfort in goal, and is arguably the best goalkeeper England has had in the 21st century so far.
5. John Stones (NON-MOVER)
Stones has been England’s best defender for some time and his performances over the last two matches have only enhanced that claim. While he passed the test easily against Ukraine, it was his stand-out showing against Italy that deserves attention, limiting the home side’s threat in a hostile atmosphere.
6. Declan Rice (UP TWO)
Rice produced a stunning display against Italy, capped off with a rare international goal. He is invaluable to Southgate’s squad and his performances may see him receive interest from Champions League clubs this summer.
7. Kyle Walker (DOWN ONE)
Despite being 32 years old, Walker has yet to show any real decline in his performances. His ability to track back and recover was crucial against Italy, making him England’s best option for the right-back position.
8. Jack Grealish (UP EIGHT)
Grealish may have missed an excellent opportunity to score against Italy, but his overall performance helped England to a famous win. Southgate’s trust in him, particularly on the left side of the attack, will only have gone up after his impressive display.
9. Harry Maguire (UP THREE)
Maguire’s critics were out in full force before the match against Italy, but he looked cool and composed during the game. He played an important role in a defence that was confident enough to play out from the back in front of a partisan Italian crowd, proving his worth as a key player in Southgate’s squad.
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