The England national side confirmed their place in the Euro 2016 Finals, being the first nation to do so (other than France who are automatically qualified, as they are hosting the competition), after they breezed past San Marino, beating them 6-0. Now the attention turns to what players will make the short trip across the English Channel and battle it out at Euro 2016. In this article, we will be looking at possibly the strongest England eleven that could well be the chosen lot to kick-off the tournament for Roy Hodgson if they are all fit.
Goalkeeper; Joe Hart
Joe Hart will be the England goalkeeper at Euro 2016 unless he suffers a major injury leading up the tournament. The Manchester City favourite has been the number one for club and country for a long time now, meaning his experience is exceptional and that will be massively important to what could be a young defence. The 28-year-old has won 54 international caps for the Three Lions and looks set to increase that figure over the next few years. Hart will remain as the England goalkeeper until he probably retires – which could be a very long time.
Right Back; Nathaniel Clyne
The recently established England right back, Nathaniel Clyne, has only featured seven times for his national side, but his quality makes up for his inexperience at this level. Clyne had a phenomenal season with Southampton last year, which warranted the former Crystal Palace defender a £12.5million move to Liverpool, where he is already the first choice right back under Brendan Rodgers. With that move to Liverpool, the 24-year-old will fancy his chances of remaining as England’s right back, as he is playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Centre Back; John Stones
The young Everton centre-back was in the middle of a massive transfer saga over the summer, which eventually saw him stay with the Merseyside club after they refused to sell their star defender to champions Chelsea. The highest of the bids equalled £30million, but Stones stayed at Goodison Park, showing tremendous professionalism and is now ready to kick on with the club he enjoyed a fantastic season with. The ex-Barnsley defender has now cemented his place in the Toffees defence alongside Phil Jagielka, who is also in contention for the centre-back position for England, but Hodgson could prefer the younger legs of Stones. He will also be battling for the position with Chris Smalling of Manchester United, who has improved incredibly. Stones has only made 6 appearances at the international stage, but if he was to play like he did last season, he will be on the plane to France.
Centre Back; Gary Cahill
One of the most experienced heads in the England camp, Gary Cahill will offer the national side a solid and reliable centre-back. Cahill, who has played 37 times for England and is the vice-captain, has succeeded in his role at Chelsea, having developed hugely since joining from Bolton in 2012. The 29-year-old was important to the Blues’ title-winning side last season and is also important for the Three Lions. However, his position is not guaranteed if he doesn’t retain his starting place at Chelsea with John Terry and Kurt Zouma providing competition. For England, Jagielka and Smalling (and Stones) will be fighting him to be in that starting eleven at the first game of Euro 2016.
Left Back; Luke Shaw
England have several left backs who are more than capable of fulfilling the role when it comes to the big stage, but Luke Shaw looks to be the favourite. The Manchester United defender is Louis Van Gaal’s first choice left back and should, therefore, be England’s; Leighton Baines is out injured, Keiran Gibbs is not the favoured left back at Arsenal and Danny Rose doesn’t have the same quality as Shaw. Shaw moved to the Red Devils for a staggering £30million and has played 6 times for England, including one at the 2014 World Cup. However, Ryan Bertrand could pose the biggest threat to his position in the national side if the Southampton full-back has another impressive season.
Central Midfielder; Jordan Henderson
Currently out injured for Liverpool (expected to return very shortly), Jordan Henderson should be another name to make the starting eleven in France. The Sunderland-born footballer has become accustomed to the midfield spot for his national side and should be making a return for the next England fixture. Having seen Steven Gerrard depart Liverpool, Henderson is now the Liverpool captain and would hope to develop his leadership skills, which could be vital for the England side. The 25-year-old has played 22 times for England, but he has played for Liverpool a total of 188 times. Fully expect him to be in France.
Central Midfielder; Jack Wilshere
Alongside Henderson, there could be a number of potential players to play next to him, but Jack Wilshere could be the best option. Unfortunately, though, the Arsenal midfielder is extremely injury prone – he is currently out injured at the moment and would have to perform at his very best for the Gunners towards the end of the season if he wants to be a part of the 23-man squad required for the Euros. However, when he does play for England, he puts in high-quality performances and he often wins the ‘Man of the Match’ award, highlighting his hard work and desire. Wilshere has 28 England caps at the age of 23.
Right Winger; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Another Arsenal player that should be in the starting eleven for Euro 2016 is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who always impresses when he puts on that white shirt. Chamberlain is an important figure for both Arsenal and England with his pace, strength and dribbling – exactly what is required of a winger. He moved to North London for an initial £12million and has played 22 times for England. The players that could be a threat to his starting position are, in fact, two Arsenal players; Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott. They all have bags of pace, but Welbeck always seems to perform when wearing the England shirt. It could just come down to who plays the best for Arsenal this season.
Attacking Midfielder; Wayne Rooney (captain)
Without a doubt, Wayne Rooney will be the first name on the England teamsheet. Against Switzerland on Tuesday night, he became an England record-breaker – he surpassed the great Sir Bobby Charlton in the goalscoring charts, increasing his total to 50 goals. That figure has the potential to keep on increasing, especially with the attacker being the nation’s captain. Rooney is now 29-years-old and has 107 England caps. The Manchester United man definitely prefers playing behind the striker rather than being the main forward himself because of his excellent eye for a pass and his deadly shooting. Pressure is always on the Liverpool-born player to always put in a performance of the highest level.
Left Winger; Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling moved to Manchester City for £49million this summer after he made it clear he wanted out at Liverpool, becoming the most expensive English footballer ever. Sterling has already hit the ground running for mega-rich City, scoring once, showing his fantastic dribbling ability that can dazzle defenders. And he looks set to be England’s first choice left winger (or right winger) because of the danger he can cause when his side has the ball. Hodgson notices this; he has given the tricky winger 17 international caps and shows huge faith in the controversial player. Sterling will no doubt be an important figure for a title-pushing Manchester City side and the England national side at Euro 2016.
Striker; Harry Kane
Harry Kane shocked everyone last season as he tallied up 31 goals in all competitions for Tottenham Hotspur. He hasn’t continued that form on into the new campaign for his club side but has two goals in two games for England this season, which now means he has played 4 times for the national side, scoring 3 times. Kane will surely start to score for Spurs, cementing his place in the England side. He is a good finisher who just so happens to be the in the right place at the right time. The 22-year-old probably is the first choice striker for Hodgson at the moment, as long as he can refind his form for Tottenham. Soon, however, Daniel Sturridge will be back from injury for Liverpool, who could well be the biggest threat to Kane’s position. Sturridge will have to show why he should be England’s starting striker in very little for Liverpool, which should give Kane the advantage.