Arsenal legend Ray Parlour reveals his England squad for the Euros
- Credit: PA
Ray Parlour reveals his 26-man England squad and starting XI ahead of Gareth Southgate’s official announcement.
“They should be getting to the last four at least with the squad they’ve got,” said Parlour. “We don’t know how it’s going to go with injuries at the tournament, but I think we’ve got good back up in all positions.
“Anything less than the semi-finals would be a massive disappointment. Three years ago they got to the semi-final of a World Cup and that’s the sort of standard we should be aiming for.
“They’re not favourites with the bookmakers for nothing. It’s because it’s a great squad and things are massively in England’s favour in terms of the scheduling at Wembley.
“Playing at home makes a big difference. Having some fans there could be very important as well. In England, we always expect a lot from our team but I do believe this is a very talented squad and if they can get the right balance then I think we’ve got an excellent chance of going a long way.
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“I think we’re as good as anybody else at the tournament. If the players keep their nerve and turn up, there’s a great chance.”
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- Big game experience puts Pickford between the posts for Parlour:
“The goalkeepers kind of pick themselves but my number one would be Jordan Pickford, I think he’ll be the one who starts,” said Parlour.
“Nick Pope and Dean Henderson are obvious squad picks from my point of view. I know Henderson has had a bit of stick for some errors in the Manchester United team recently but he’s still a good goalkeeper.
“But neither Pope nor Henderson have done enough to overtake Pickford as first choice in my opinion. He’s got that big tournament experience under his belt already and I’d back him in a penalty shoot-out.
“If we had taken Croatia to penalties in the World Cup semi-final I’d have fancied Pickford to get us through, but we got knocked out in extra-time. But Pickford has that as great experience now. He’s had a bit of an indifferent season, don’t get me wrong, but I still see him as England’s No.1.”
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“I picked nine defenders in total,” he said. “The two central defenders should be Harry Maguire and John Stones.
“I’m not sure if Gareth will go with four at the back or three, but I personally think he should go with a back four and I’d have Walker in that right-back slot, although he can play as a third centre-half if that’s what Gareth prefers.
“I like Ben Chilwell, he gets forward well and he’s a decent defender as well, so he’s my left-back.”
“I’d pick Trent,” Parlour told Gambling.com. “He got left out of the squad recently but he’s bounced back from it and played really well. I think Gareth will have noticed that, will have liked his reaction and the character that he’s shown.
“I reckon Jurgen Klopp will have had a little word with Trent as well and encouraged him not to let his head drop, to focus on finishing the season well and he’s been excellent these past few weeks.
“Gareth will have seen enough to bring him I reckon, I don’t think Trent is the type of player who would let him down. He’s got a good delivery, can hit free-kicks and he’s back in form so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s in the squad on Tuesday – I think he will be.
“I’ve gone for Saka because of the versatility he brings,” said Parlour. “He can play left-back, or on the wing. Arsenal have had a difficult season but he’s been one of their best players and I think he’s shown enough to be in the squad.
“Saka can play left-back or he can play right-wing if he has to. He’s a bit of a utility player and if we end up with a big problem in midfield then he can play there. That’s why I’ve got him in there, whether Gareth will or not I’m not sure, we’ll have to wait and see.
“I think this selection of defenders covers all angles, in case there are injuries or a Covid case for example. There’s the right mix of experience and youth.”
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“It’s great to see Declan Rice back in the West Ham side after injury and I’d expect to see him play a big part in midfield at the tournament,” said Parlour.
“Mason Mount has been excellent, one of Chelsea’s best players this season, he’ll be a big player in England’s future but I’d like to see him as a starter right now.
“Grealish is another who has just come back from injury in the nick of time. When he puts that England shirt on he offers something different. He gets into little pockets, he’s really hard to pick up and he’s very confident on the ball, always looking for it.
“Foden is an obvious choice, given the season he’s had at Manchester City,” said Parlour, who would use the 20-year-old on the right of an attack-minded formation.
“I think he’ll be a starter and will play a vital role at the Euros, let’s hope he carries that club form into the tournament.
“Sterling is always dangerous whether he drifts out to that left-hand side or comes through the middle. He’s got quick feet, likes to cut inside on to his right foot. He’s had a good England career so far and he’s a key component in attack – he’s got to be a starter.
“Jude Bellingham’s been really impressive given the fact he’s only 17 years old,” he said. “There’s always a youngster or two on the fringes. He’s looked so comfortable when he’s come on for England, he seems very mature for his age.
“I’ve picked Henderson, who has had his injury problems this season, but he’s a real leader and I think he’d be great around the camp. He could be a starter if he’s fit, who knows, and he’s also shown his versatility this season by filling in at centre-back for Liverpool.
“I’ve also picked Jesse Lingard based on what he’s done at West Ham, which has been amazing. I’m surprised to see how well he’s done there, but for me he’s played his way back into the England fold and he’d be in my squad.”
“I like Kalvin Phillips as a holding midfielder,” he said. “In certain games Gareth might want to play two holding midfielders so he can do a job there if called upon.
“You could have Sterling on the left flank, Foden on the right and then Grealish as the No.10. But then Gareth might prefer two holding midfielders, it depends on the opposition and I think he could mix things up a little.
“Sometimes you have to weigh up the situation and see what the best options are for who you’re up against.
“James Ward-Prowse has had a very good season. He is technically very gifted, very good on the ball – he deserves his opportunity. He’s another free-kick and set-piece expert, but he’s also a very efficient player. I’d bring him too.”
- Kane key to England’s front line hopes but plenty of options for Parlour who voices excitement over Three Lions’ attack.
“I think he’ll go with just one up front and that will obviously be Harry Kane,” said Parlour. “Rashford is another who can play down that left-hand side if needed and I like Calvert-Lewin.
“Calvert-Lewin is great at holding the ball up, he’s strong in the air with a great leap and I’d trust him to lead the line if needed. If we’re chasing a goal and Gareth looks to his bench, Kane and Calvert-Lewin up front could be a good partnership.
“Sancho can bring something different to the team off the bench too. He’s being courted for around £100million with Manchester United looking at him, so he’s got lots of talent.
“He’s going to be around for a long, long time in an England shirt so it’ll be good to get him some tournament experience nice and early.
“Let’s hope Kane can stay fit for the whole tournament and he’ll be the main man if so, but if he does get injured then Calvert-Lewin could do a great job as well.”