England squad: Gareth Southgate's expected selection for Spain and Switzerland matches
Following the Three Lions’ brilliant run to the semi-finals of the World Cup, the popular manager now faces his next challenge.
The UEFA Nations League begins next weekend, with England taking on Spain in their inaugural match in the new competition.
The Nations League sees England take on Spain and World Cup semi-final conquerors Croatia twice each with the group winners heading into a finals tournament next summer.
However, if England finish bottom of the group, they will be relegated to the second tier for the next edition of the competition in two years time.
“The Nations League sees England take on Spain and World Cup semi-final conquerors Croatia twice each”
After the Spain clash on Saturday 8 September, Southgate’s men will take on Switzerland at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday 11.
He will be without striker Jamie Vardy and defender Gary Cahill, who both announced their international retirement today.
In goal, Southgate has a decision to make with Nick Pope now injured.
Fellow Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton – who was on the World Cup standby list – has only played once this season, so Joe Hart (who now also plays for the Clarets) could earn a reprieve.
However, Southgate has proven unforgiving when dropping players before, and Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy may have a better chance of the call.
With Cahill retired and Phil Jones injured during a poor performance for Manchester United last night, two different centre-backs are likely to be involved who were not in the World Cup squad.
Liverpool’s Joe Gomez and Burnley’s James Tarkowski are best placed, having been called up last season before missing out on Russia through injury.
Michael Keane started the season well with Everton but suffered a fractured skull at the weekend so is out for a while, while Southgate has made clear he is not a fan of Chris Smalling.
Wolves’ Conor Coady is in contention after a strong start to the season at the heart of a back three.
At left-back Luke Shaw could come in after a strong start to the campaign, although Ryan Bertrand will also be hoping for a recall following his goal on Saturday.
In midfield Southgate has many options, and we think Leicester youngsters James Maddison and Demarai Gray are both well placed for a call-up.
Reports last week claimed that youngsters Phil Foden of Manchester City and Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund are both in line for an opportunity.
That spells bad news for the likes of Jake Livermore, Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana – although Barkley has been playing more often for Chelsea lately.
Veteran Theo Walcott and youngster Ryan Sessegnon will both be hoping for the call, but Southgate has repeatedly left the Everton man of squads and the Fulham starlet has yet to shine in the top flight.
With Vardy retired, Daniel Sturridge will hope for a recall, but he is lacking game time.
Bournemouth star Callum Wilson could profit from that and get a chance after a bright start to the campaign.
Southgate is not constrained by the 23-man limit of tournament football, so we expect him to name around 28 players in total.
Starsport’s expected England squad:
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Alex McCarthy
Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, James Tarkowski, Joe Gomez, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, Danny Rose
Midfielders: Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Demarai Gray, James Maddison, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho
Forwards: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck, Callum Wilson