Euro 2020 Qualifiers: 3 England newcomers who could impress
The qualifying matches for UEFA Euro 2020 are upon us this week, and one side that a lot of eyes will be on are Gareth Southgate’s England. The Three Lions are coming off success in both the World Cup and in the group stage of the Nations League, and will look to go into Euro 2020 as one of the favourites to win the tournament.
Despite going deeper in the World Cup than they’d done since 1990, Southgate’s side haven’t been resting on their laurels since. England had a young team in Russia, but since the tournament some of the older veterans – Jamie Vardy, Gary Cahill, Ashley Young – have dropped out, making way for some fresh faces.
The Nations League matches saw the debuts of Jadon Sancho and Nathaniel Chalobah, but Southgate has continued to look towards younger talent for the upcoming fixtures with the Czech Republic and Montenegro, picking a handful of newcomers once again.
Here are 3 England newcomers who could impress in the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.
#1 Declan Rice
Perhaps the most controversial of Southgate’s newcomers for these games, West Ham’s midfielder Declan Rice clearly has the talent that warrants an England call-up.
The controversy comes because he’s already got three caps for the Republic of Ireland – albeit in friendly games, hence why FIFA have allowed him to switch allegiance.
To be fair, England were stung in the opposite way when Wilfried Zaha did the same thing and switched allegiance to the Ivory Coast, and in today’s multicultural world with so much immigration and emigration, the Rice situation probably won’t be the last of its kind to be faced by England. But that’s a tangent of course!
At any rate, Rice has proven himself as a high-level defensive midfielder with the Hammers this season, and while England have used Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier in the position in their most recent games, there’s an argument to be made that Rice has the potential to be superior to both players.
Rice notably has higher defensive stats than both Henderson and Dier, scoring well in areas like tackles per game, interceptions per game and blocks per game – and with England being an attack-minded side, it’s important that the holding man doesn’t allow his defence to be exposed.
Interestingly though, Rice also takes more shots per game than either of his rivals, and while he doesn’t complete as many key passes as Dier, he does dribble more successfully than either man. That suggests that as well as being a holding man, Rice could also start some attacks for England.
The word is that Southgate will start Rice in Friday’s match with the Czechs, which would make sense given Dier is only just returning from a spell of illness while Henderson is carrying a slight ankle injury. If he can impress in the role despite his young age (20) and lack of international experience, it could be hard to dislodge him in the future.