UEFA’s decision to increase the maximum squad size to 26 at this summer’s European Championships could hand a dramatic lifeline to some of the Premier League’s fringe stars.
Under the old 23-man squad limit, plenty of the top-flight’s biggest names were set to miss out on the rescheduled tournament, which is due to be played in several cities across the continent.
Suddenly, the doors to the departure lounge have swung open for a whole clutch of players as Gareth Southgate and other National team managers have an extra three spots to fill.
Daily Star Sport have picked out eight players who stand to benefit from the new limit, including stars at Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Jesse Lingard, Manchester United
Jesse Lingard’s odds of making Southgate’s Euro squad have tumbled in recent weeks thanks to his excellent form while on-loan at West Ham, but his inclusion is by no means a guarantee.
The 28-year-old featured in all three of England’s March internationals and now has an extra chance to secure what appeared to be an unlikely Euro dream just a few months ago.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool
While Lingard’s inclusion seemed almost impossible six months ago, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s appeared almost guaranteed.
The Liverpool star has long been considered one of Europe’s best right-backs and was a regular in Southgate’s international squads.
That was until last month, when Alexander-Arnold was given the boot to the shock of many at Anfield and around the country.
Now that three more spaces have opened up, the 22-year-old should be able to sneak his way into the squad even if he doesn’t start.
Emile Smith-Rowe, Arsenal
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Competition for places is high in England’s midfield, so there would have been little surprise had Emile Smith-Rowe missed out.
But with the pathway now open for one or two midfielders to force their way in, the Arsenal star has to fancy his chances.
Luke Shaw, Manchester United
Southgate has more left-back options than he knows what to do with, but could Luke Shaw meander his way back into the picture?
He returned to the England set-up last month after three years away and will fancy his chances of making the plane if he can continue his excellent form with United.
Bukayo Saka, Arsenal
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Bukayo Saka has been one of the few bright lights in Arsenal’s season and could yet be rewarded for his form with a spot at the Euros.
Granted there are several players ahead of the 19-year-old in the forward positions, but he could be an interesting wildcard option for Southgate.
James Maddison, Leicester
As we’ve already touched on, England are not short of options when it comes to the midfield.
But for someone like James Maddison, who is competing with the likes of Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount, it’s even tougher to nail down a spot.
If Maddison has a strong end to the season with Leicester, he’ll give himself the best possible chance of forcing his way until Southgate’s plans.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been a regular under Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, but will it be enough to get him into the the Three Lions squad?
Three England caps since 2019 would suggest not, but he can give Southgate something to think about between now and the end of the season.
Mason Greenwood, Manchester United
Mason Greenwood lost some of Southgate’s trust after breaking quarantine rules following his debut against Iceland in September 2020.
Six months on and the 19-year-old is bang in form at United with five goals in his last seven matches in all competitions.
If Southgate has forgotten about Greenwood’s misdemeanour at the back end of last year, he could yet sneak his way in.
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