Euro 2024: Stand in Gareth Southgate’s shoes and pick your England starting XI for next summer’s tournament

Euro 2024: Stand in Gareth Southgate’s shoes and pick your England starting XI for next summer’s tournament


Euro 2024 is just a year away; The first game in Munich takes place on June 14, 2024; England’s bid to qualify for the tournament continues with games against Malta and North Macedonia in the coming days; What should England’s XI be if their first game at the tournament was tomorrow?

Who should Gareth Southgate pick if England’s opening game at Euro 2024 was tomorrow?

The countdown is well and truly on with the opening game of Euro 2024 in Munich just one year away.

England, who currently top qualifying Group C, continue their bid to qualify for next summer’s tournament in Germany with games against Malta (Friday June 16; kick-off 7.45pm) and North Macedonia (Monday June 19; kick-off 7.45pm) as they look to go one better than their runners-up finish at Euro 2020.

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There’s still plenty of time for players to make their cases in the next year, but if Gareth Southgate’s side’s first match at the tournament was just around the corner, who would he pick?

Would Aaron Ramsdale get his chance in goal? Would we see Trent-Alexander-Arnold return to the starting XI? Would he be in defence or midfield? Would Marcus Rashford get the nod over Jack Grealish on the left?

The Sky Sports football writers have had their say!

Follow England’s Euro Qualifiers against Malta on Friday and North Macedonia next Monday with our dedicated match blogs across Sky Sports digital platforms.

David Richardson: ‘It’s time to unleash Trent’

Gareth Southgate tried Trent Alexander-Arnold in midfield long before Jurgen Klopp moved him into a hybrid role at the end of last season – now it’s time for England to fully unleash him.

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England’s midfield options are sparse beyond Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham which opens the door for Alexander-Arnold to fill the third spot in a 4-3-3.

Unless a strong contender emerges for the left centre-back spot, then Harry Maguire keeps his place while Marcus Rashford gets the nod on the left of the front three.

Dave Richardson’s England XI for Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Alexander-Arnold, Bellingham; Saka, Kane, Rashford.

Sam Blitz: ‘It could be Colwill’s time’

Sam Blitz's starting England XI to start Euro 2024

The best thing about this team is a very fluid defence. Trent Alexander-Arnold will slot into midfield, with John Stones playing in a right-back, centre-back, centre-mid hybrid. European rivals won’t know who is where!

You can’t pick too differently from the recent tournament squads – but one area where Gareth Southgate could switch out is Harry Maguire. A lot will depend on whether the Manchester United captain gets a summer move but if he stays at Old Trafford, expect Levi Colwill to overtake him in the ranks.

Colwill just had a superb season on loan at Brighton from Chelsea and no matter where he plays next season, he should be getting into the England squad from September onwards. Apart from that, expect Southgate to stick with favourites Jordan Pickford in goal, potentially Man Utd’s Mason Mount in midfield and Bukayo Saka on the right.

Marcus Rashford on the left, Southgate will surely realise his mistake of not giving him enough World Cup minutes in Qatar.

Sam Blitz’s England XI for Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Pickford; Alexander-Arnold, Stones, Colwill, Shaw; Rice, Mount, Bellingham; Saka, Kane, Rashford.

Nick Wright: ‘Ramsdale to have the edge over Pickford’

Nick Wright

Should he pick up where he left off last season, I think Aaron Ramsdale may just have the edge over Jordan Pickford in goal, although Gareth Southgate may think differently.

In front of him, Levi Colwill stands out as the best left-footed option to replace Harry Maguire, although he’ll need a strong season behind him – be it at Chelsea or elsewhere.

My full-back choices are based largely on my feeling that Reece James and Ben Chilwell will flourish under Mauricio Pochettino, much like Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose did at Tottenham.

Like others, I’d also love to see Southgate incorporate Trent Alexander-Arnold in his midfield. The England manager’s previous attempts at this do not inspire confidence, but Jurgen Klopp’s success last season gives him a template to follow.

Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice of course make up the rest of the midfield, with Marcus Rashford just ahead of Jack Grealish on the left and Bukayo Saka on the right, with Harry Kane, of course, the central striker.

Nick Wright’s England XI for Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Ramsdale; James, Stones, Colwill, Chilwell; Rice, Alexander-Arnold, Bellingham; Saka, Kane Rashford.

Laura Hunter: ‘TAA in midfield but experiment needs fine tuning’


I’m not sure Gareth Southgate is willing to part ways with Jordan Pickford in goal just yet, given his major tournament experience and nous, but Aaron Ramsdale’s form should not be ignored. England are blessed in this position – Nick Pope is another worthy competitor.

For all Reece James’ injury struggles, if fit, he has to play. As full-backs go, he is one of the best all-rounders Southgate has. It’s another position bursting with riches but James is as good as they come, should he be able to reach full tilt for Chelsea this season. The rest of the back four picks itself unless Harry Maguire talks himself out of a starting shirt between now and then – entirely possible.

Anecdotally, I would like to see Trent Alexander-Arnold in a more advanced position, but that experimental shift needs fine-tuning before rolling out at a tournament finals. It’s evident Southgate does not trust him defensively, but Trent has looked rejuvenated in this fashionable new hybrid midfield role for Liverpool. That does not mean it can be replicated at international level, with a different support cast, but worth a trial run in the preamble. If it works, he wins my vote based on quality in possession.

Laura Hunter’s England XI to start Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Ramsdale; James, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Alexander-Arnold, Rice, Bellingham; Saka, Kane, Rashford.

Zinny Boswell: ‘Mount to rediscover his best form’

Zinny's England XI for Euro 2024

The only real potential surprise inclusion in this squad is Chelsea centre-back Levi Colwill. With Harry Maguire’s future still uncertain it feels like this could be the season for Colwill – whether that’s at Chelsea or Brighton – to stake his claim for that left-sided centre-back spot. His natural left-footedness and assuredness playing out at the back make him a perfect fit for Southgate.

Elsewhere, I’m backing Mason Mount to rediscover his best form next season and play a big role for England at the Euros.

Kieran Trippier has been one of the Premier League’s top performers this season and I expect him to be Southgate’s go-to right-back next summer. The rest of the team almost picks itself, but Phil Foden could certainly displace Marcus Rashford out on the left.

Zinny Boswell’s England XI to start Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Pickford; Trippier, Stones, Colwill, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham, Mount; Saka, Kane, Rashford.

Joe Shread: ‘Shaw an interesting option to partner Stones’

Joe Shread

Jordan Pickford keeps his place in goal ahead of Aaron Ramsdale due to his sturdy performances for England at major tournaments.

Reece James sees off strong competition to start at right-back, with the expectation being that he will recover his form and fitness under Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea, while his club-mate Ben Chilwell provides England’s best attacking threat from left-back.

Luke Shaw’s reinvention as an occasional centre-back at Manchester United, combined with a lack of viable alternatives at the position, makes him an interesting option alongside John Stones at the heart of the defence.

Stones’ place should be assured, as should those of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, while Mason Mount can be backed to return to his best – possibly under Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford.

Bukayo Saka is England’s best right-sided attacker and will surely start alongside Harry Kane in the frontline, where Marcus Rashford also gets the nod ahead of Jack Grealish and Phil Foden due to his keener eye for goal.

Joe Shread’s England XI to start Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Pickford; James, Stones, Shaw, Chilwell; Mount, Rice, Bellingham; Saka, Kane, Rashford.

Oliver Yew: ‘Ramsdale, James, Colwill and TAA to help England go up a level’

Oliver Yew's England XI to start Euro 2024

There’s still plenty of room for Southgate’s tried and trusted players but throw in a sprinkling of magic dust and England could go all the way next summer.

It will be hard for Aaron Ramsdale to dislodge Jordan Pickford in goal but if he continues his fine form for Arsenal through next season then he will be hard to ignore for Southgate.

There will be question marks over Reece James after an injury plagued season saw him miss the World Cup but I’m backing him to rediscover his form once he’s fully fit, while centre-back Levi Colwill, who has been training with the England senior side, can continue his rise to prominence and dislodge Harry Maguire from the starting XI.

Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are certain starters, but who completes the trio in midfield? Kalvin Phillips will be hoping for more game time at Man City to stake his claim, while a potential summer transfer move could reignite Mason Mount’s form and put him back at the forefront of Southgate’s plans. However, it could be time to unleash Trent-Alexander Arnold as a midfielder in this England team after his superb performances for Liverpool stepping into the middle of the park from right-back.

In attack, you could argue for any combination considering the options Southgate has at his disposal, but Marcus Rashford gets the nod on the left, while Bukayo Saka starts on the right with Harry Kane continuing to lead the line for England. Honourable mentions must go to Jack Grealish and Phil Foden and they will have big parts to play coming off the bench.

Oliver Yew’s England XI to start Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Ramsdale; James, Stones, Colwill, Shaw; Rice, Alexander-Arnold, Bellingham; Saka, Kane Rashford.

Dan Long: ‘Southgate to stick with old guard’

Dan Long

Perhaps it’s unimaginative of me, but Gareth Southgate’s old guard make up the spine of this team, though there could well be alterations made in several areas.

Jordan Pickford tends to save his best when away at tournaments with England so starts in goal and Harry Maguire has been reliable at international level, though I do agree with my colleagues that, with another Premier League season under his belt, Levi Colwill – a decade Maguire’s junior – could displace him in a year’s time.

I have no doubt that Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham will continue to be the jewels in the Three Lions’ midfield, but though Trent Alexander-Arnold has caught the eye when slipping into midfield for Liverpool, if Mason Mount can rediscover the form of seasons gone by, I think he could sneak into that third spot in the middle of the park.

Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane will be two of the first names on the teamsheet – that goes without saying – and joining them on the left will be Marcus Rashford, though he will be pushed hard by Phil Foden.

I’m still banging the Ivan Toney drum, too, and look forward to him returning as Kane’s deputy once he returns in mid-January.

Dan Long’s England XI to start Euro 2024: (4-3-3) Pickford, Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham, Mount; Saka, Kane, Rashford.

Richard Morgan: ‘Very few starting places up for grabs’

Richard Morgan

It is a sign of the stability under Gareth Southgate’s management that really, there are very few starting places up for grabs in this England line-up.

Goalkeeper, perhaps, but expect Jordan Pickford to hold off the challenge of Aaron Ramsdale, while it will be what formation Southgate goes for that causes most debate at Euro 2024: three at the back, or two?

I’m going for the former, with a fit-again Ben Chilwell back in favour on the left after being revitalised under new Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, and club-mate Reece James as the opposite wing back.

Luke Shaw, John Stones and Kyle Walker, in his last tournament for England, form the back three, who will be protected by the multimillion-pound holding midfield duo of Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice.

Meanwhile, the forward line sees captain Harry Kane flanked by the pacey pair of Marcus Rashford on the left and Bukayo Saka on the right.

Richard Morgan’s England XI to start Euro 2024: (3-4-3) Pickford; Shaw, Stones, Walker; Chilwell, Rice, Bellingham, James; Rashford, Kane, Saka.

Have YOUR say…

So, what would your England starting XI look like for the first game of Euro 2024?

Agree or disagree with our writers? Pick your own England start XI below by using our interactive selector to pick your team and system below and share on Twitter @SkyFootball.

Follow England’s Euro Qualifiers against Malta on Friday and North Macedonia next Monday with our dedicated match blogs across Sky Sports digital platforms.

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