As the curtain has fallen on domestic leagues across Europe, national team managers have begun preparations ahead of Euro 2016 which promises to be one of the most intriguing tournaments in recent history. The increase from sixteen to twenty-four participants will not only provide fans with more football to enjoy in France, but also provided the opportunity for other countries to experience what it is like to play at a major tournament. Northern Ireland, Wales and Slovakia are among those who have taken full advantage by qualifying from their respective groups, and although Coral do not expect any of them to pull off a feat on the same scale as Leicester winning the Premier League, England could well spring a surprise as darkhorses. The Three Lions will look to end fifty years of hurt this summer by showing they have the confidence and quality within their ranks to make a real impact, but lowered expectation levels may reflect the realism that other nations, such as Belgium, Spain and Germany, have greater strength in depth.
Roy Hodgson will have faced a difficult few weeks deliberating over who to select and who to leave out, and while fans and media pundits alike had their own say on who should be included in the 23-man squad for Euro 2016, the squad announcement on Monday provided a few raised eyebrows. The England manager has decided to pick 26 players ahead of upcoming warm-up matches against Turkey, Australia and Portugal, with all three games set to be played in different stadiums across the country. Wembley will provide the final venue before the England team head off to their headquarters in the city of Chantilly, located just north of the French capital. Hodgson will deliberate over the form and fitness of a number of players at St. George’s Park over the next two weeks before making his final decision ahead of the May 31st deadline, with three players set to miss out on the chance to represent their country.
The decision to include Fabian Delph, Andros Townsend and Jack Wilshere has certainly created surprise, with 18-year-old teenage sensation Marcus Rashford also selected for England’s provisional 26-man squad. One look at Hodgson’s team may persuade ardent fans to back England to succeed this summer, but they should check this tip out first with Coral and wait to see who makes the cut before taking the plunge. England will certainly be taking a number of in-form players from Premier League champions Leicester and Tottenham, although the likes of Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge face a crucial fortnight in which they has to prove their fitness or facing missing out. There is no question that the 24-year-old is one of the most gifted midfielders in the country, but the fact he has played a mere 141 minutes of Premier League football for Arsenal and started just 10 games in the last two seasons due to a number of injuries highlights the risk that comes with his selection. Some would argue that Wilshere will be fresh and raring to go without having the strain and fatigue of a full season of football weighing him down, but the potential for an injury relapse is something that Hodgson cannot overlook, despite his glowing admiration for the player.
Delph is another that has endured an injury-ravaged season, but many would point to the fact that the Manchester City midfielder has not enjoyed the best of seasons. His controversial move from Aston Villa ultimately proved to be the correct decision given the demise of his former club this season, but he failed to make a significant impact and struggled to get ahead of Fernando and Fernandinho in the pecking order. Mark Noble certainly stands out as the player that many felt was thoroughly deserving of an England call-up following a fantastic season at West Ham; Noble may be a similar player to Danny Drinkwater, but his performances have seemingly been overlooked by Hodgson who has opted to select players who have served him well in the past and during England’s flawless qualifying campaign.
Selecting Rashford could prove to be a shrewd move from Hodgson, with the young Manchester United talent, who has made a real impact this season, likely to gain invaluable experience from working with the England first team at St. George’s Park. Rashford may find himself in the 23-man squad for Euro 2016 if Sturridge is unable to prove his fitness, and although there is the argument that it is way too soon for Rashford, he has the confidence and talent to emulate the impact that Michael Owen made as an 18-year-old at the 1998 World Cup. However, Andy Carroll and Jermaine Defoe may feel aggrieved that they have missed out, particularly the latter whose prolific finishing ability has come to the fore as he scored the goals that kept Sunderland in the Premier League. Any of the strikers that Hodgson could have called up would struggle to get in front of Kane and Vardy, with the former likely to feature in the latest Euro 2016 betting tips as a strong candidate to finish the tournament as top scorer. Both men may hold the key to England’s success this summer, and if the defence remain strong to allow the likes of Dele Alli, Adam Lallana and Wayne Rooney to express themselves in advanced areas, then Hodgson’s side could make a real impact at Euro 2016.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Tottenham), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Danny Rose (Tottenham), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)
Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Ross Barkley (Everton), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Andros Townsend (Newcastle)
Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)