UEFA confirmed on Tuesday that squad lists for the EURO 2020 finals this summer will be increased to 26 players because of the extraordinary circumstances the tournament will be played under during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The maximum number of players permitted on match sheets for each individual fixture will remain at 23, but all participating teams will be able to name 26 players in their squads for the tournament.
Players named in the 26-man squad who test positive for Covid-19 can be replaced up until a team’s first match in the competition.
The decision offers England manager Gareth Southgate more flexibility when selecting his squad, with three more places available for this summer’s tournament.
Here are five players who the increased squad list could benefit.
The Liverpool right-back was the notable omission from Southgate’s most recent England squad for World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland earlier this year.
Southgate’s explanation for dropping the 22-year-old was that his performances this season have not reached the same levels as his previous two seasons with Liverpool – in which he won the Premier League with the Reds last term and UEFA Champions League in 2018.
Jamie Carragher echoed Southgate’s thoughts in his column for the Telegraph.
He said: “Southgate has never seemed convinced Alexander-Arnold suits England’s system, or to be more specific how often he likes to switch between a back four and three centre-backs.
“Southgate does not want a playmaker at right-back. He wants a traditional right-back or wing-back.”
Alexander-Arnolds has kept just seven clean sheets and made five assists this season, in comparison to his 12 and 13 last season.
However, Southgate has left the door open for the full-back, saying: “He’s a big talent and I’m sure he will play a big role for England in the future”.
✅ Jesse Lingard
✅ Ollie Watkins
✅ John Stones
❌ Trent Alexander-Arnold
❌ Patrick Bamford
Gareth Southgate explained his England selections and why certain players missed out.
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— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 19, 2021
The 17-year-old has impressed for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League this season but remains on the fringes of Southgate’s squad.
He was included in the most recent World Cup qualifying triple-header, but only featured in England’s first match – a 5-0 win against San Marino.
The increased squad list could persuade Southgate to take a risk on the youngster – even if his inclusion is for him to gain tournament experience with the future in mind.
The midfielder’s chances could also be improved if Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is unable to prove his fitness following groin surgery.
The 27-year-old Leeds striker narrowly missed out on Southgate’s most recent squad to Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins.
Bamford has registered 14 goals and 7 assists in 34 Premier League appearances this season, having only managed to score once in his previous 27 top-flight appearances before the current campaign.
The striker is just two goals shy of his overall tally after 45 games in the Championship last season, and has contributed more in the final third than his rival Watkins this season, who has netted 13 times and made four assists.
Another Borussia Dortmund talent, Sancho could benefit from the additional three places up for grabs in Southgate’s squad this summer.
The 21-year-old winger has scored six goals and registered nine assists, creating 62 chances in 23 games in the Bundesliga this season.
Jack Grealish seemed to have played himself into Southgate’s England squad after impressive displays for the Three Lions earlier this season – but after being out with a shin injury since mid-February, the Aston Villa talisman’s hopes of being selected for the Euros this summer were in jeopardy.
Grealish will still need to prove his fitness, but with the extra spaces available Southgate may think the risk is worth the potential reward on the pitch.