Football isn't coming home just yet as England fell at the penultimate hurdle to Croatia after extra time in the World Cup semi-finals in Russia. S
Football isn’t coming home just yet as England fell at the penultimate hurdle to Croatia after extra time in the World Cup semi-finals in Russia.
Spared the customary over-hyping of those who came before them, Gareth Southgate’s young squad put pride back into the Three Lions jersey and now have an opportunity to build on their overachievement.
The road to Euro 2020, a tournament taking place around Europe with one of the semis and final to be held at Wembley, starts here.
Southgate doesn’t have a rebuilding job on his hands like Germany counterpart Joachim Low or new Spain manager Luis Enrique after those European football powers made early World Cup exits. They are among the Euro 2020 betting favourites alongside France, with England as short as 8/1 to be crowned champions of Europe in two years’ time.
Before qualifying starts in 2019, there’s the new UEFA Nations League which pairs Southgate’s side with Spain and World Cup conquerors Croatia. The Three Lions are 9/4 to win their group, which could give them the cushion of a back-door route in the Euros. There are bound to be many betting offers involving England in international action for these events and you can find them here.
It’s more a matter of adding players to the Three Lions setup that are going to help Southgate bring about further improvement. Who are the names he and football fans need to watch going forward?
Decide on familiar faces and new blood
Selecting an inexperienced squad for the World Cup led to a pleasant surprise as England, albeit in the easier half of the draw, won two knockout ties at a major tournament for the first time since Italia ’90. This leaves Southgate with a decision to make about some of the injured players who – at one time or another – were in his plans but missed the plane to Russia.
Neither Liverpool nor the Three Lions suffered too much without forward-thinking midfield pair Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season, though their return to fitness in 2018-19 will add strength in depth to this area.
Southgate called up Jack Wilshere in March, only for yet another injury to scupper his hopes of forcing his way back into the England squad. Confidence in his ability to stay fit is in doubt, though a free transfer to boyhood club West Ham United from Arsenal means he cannot be entirely written off at international level.
A natural left-footed player for the wingback role occupied by Ashley Young at the World Cup would add further balance to Southgate’s XI. Danny Rose deputised after struggling to get into the Tottenham team last term, but there’s a hugely promising teenage talent that looks tailor-made for this role across London at Fulham.
Ryan Sessegnon was both the English Football League young player of the year and the Championship player of the year as his 16 goals helped Slavisa Jokanovic take the Craven Cottage club back into the Premier League. Provided he makes the step up to that level as expected, Sessegnon can press his claims for senior international football.
And speaking of teenage talents, forward Jadon Sancho is getting game time abroad at Borussia Dortmund, so is another one to watch.