There are just a couple of months until Euro 2020 kicks off in earnest and given all of England’s group games will be at Wembley (as well as the semi-finals and final), it will surely rekindle memories of Euro 96 when football almost came home.
Even Baddiel and Skinner are re-releasing their anthem in time for the 25th anniversary of that tournament, to help the feelgood factor kick back in during a summer when, it’s hoped, supporters will be allowed back into stadiums in larger numbers for the first time in over a year.
Although Gareth Southgate’s squad picks itself by and large, there are a handful of players that really should be considered as part of the 23.
Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind for Fikayo Tomori.
The 23-year-old centre-back has been in sensational form for AC Milan since making his loan move from Chelsea, and none other than Rossoneri legend, Paolo Maldini, has suggested the youngster, whom the Serie A giants can sign permanently for £25m at the end of this season, has been the difference maker in Milan’s defence in 2020/21.
Midfield is probably the one area of the England squad that has the most competition for places.
Southgate has an embarrassment of riches there, and depending how he wants to play things in terms of team shape and dynamic, he has a pool of talent that’s amongst the best in the tournament to draw from.
Southampton star Ward-Prowse certainly deserves more than a cursory look too.
He has been diligent in possession throughout 2020/21, and his accuracy in the pass is one of the best in the Premier League. Though his passing stats are sixth best overall, he is only surpassed by one other midfielder, Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (and four defenders).
Given he offers a significant threat from set-pieces too, there’s a cogent argument that he gets in at the expense of someone else.
West Bromwich Albion
He’s had to make do with fighting a relegation battle all season long with West Bromwich Albion, but keeper, Sam Johnstone, has been one of the Baggies shining lights.
On a number of occasions during the current campaign he’s been a game saver, and on current form, despite WBA’s lowly Premier League position, he certainly deserves to usurp Jordan Pickford in the final 23.
Manchester United considering making a move to bring Johnstone back to Old Trafford tells you all you need to know about how highly rated he remains.
The only issue for Dele Alli at this stage is his lack of first-team minutes across the season. Jose Mourinho’s scapegoat hasn’t become a bad player overnight and has shown that he’s still got something to offer when given the chance.
If the Special One doesn’t leave White Hart Lane this summer, Alli will, and his former manager, Mauricio Pochettino will likely be the grateful recipient.
Just as has been shown with Jesse Lingard’s move to West Ham, the belief hasn’t waned and the talent hasn’t disappeared. Alli just needs to be appreciated again.
Southgate knows what he’s getting, and with tournament experience behind him, the England coach would be mad not to make a space for the Tottenham man.
Thomas Tuchel evidently doesn’t rate the 23-year-old striker, and Abraham has only made five appearances since the German took over at Stamford Bridge.
However, he still has an acceptable 12 goals for the campaign, including six in the Premier League in which he’s only played 90 minutes on seven occasions.
Given a run in any side, and West Ham have been heavily linked with a summer move, he will find the net.
His movement, strength, eye for goal and ability to bring others into play shouldn’t really be ignored by Southgate, even if Tuchel is still happy to do so.