Could it actually be coming home this time?
England will get their Euro 2020 campaign underway on Sunday with a tough game against Croatia. For Gareth Southgate’s side, it’s a chance to throw the gauntlet down to the rest of the competition and warn them that they’re not messing about this year.
Here’s how Southgate could line up for the opening game.
Jordan Pickford (GK) – Dean Henderson is breathing down his neck, but expect Pickford to retain his spot in the starting lineup.
Kyle Walker (CB) – With Harry Maguire not ready just yet, Southgate could overload at centre-back to try and cover for the team’s frailties there. With that in mind, Walker’s experience in a central role at a major tournament could be key.
John Stones (CB) – We probably do need an actual centre-back here, so let’s go with Stones, who was one of the best in the Premier League last year. Easy.
Luke Shaw (CB) – Shaw was an excellent left-back last season, but we saw him excel centrally in some enormous games for Manchester United in 2019/20. He’s got it in him, and it’s time to unleash that.
Kieran Trippier (RM) – After an excellent season for La Liga winners Atletico Madrid, Trippier fully merits his spot as England’s starting wing-back.
Declan Rice (CM) – As the only defensive-minded midfielder in the squad, Rice arguably needs to be the first name on the team sheet this summer.
Kalvin Phillips (CM) – Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic will try and pass England apart, so Southgate may need someone with Phillips’ energy to try and keep up.
Ben Chilwell (LM) – With Shaw starting at left-back, we can put Chilwell here without any debate.
Raheem Sterling (RW) – Sterling might not have been in the best form for Manchester City, but he always turns up for England. He’s only failed to offer either a goal or an assist in two of his last ten games for his country.
Harry Kane (ST) – Operation Golden Boot starts here.
Mason Mount (LW) – Mount is so important to Southgate’s system. He leads the press from the front but is happy dropping back into midfield as well – something he might need to do if Croatia start feeling a little too comfortable.