UEFA have confirmed that national team managers will be permitted to name 26 players in their squads for this summer’s European Championships, instead of the usual 23.
With domestic seasons truncated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced last season to overrun, plenty of managers have urged UEFA to permit them to bring more players to the Euros to help manage loads and avoid injuries.
Their pleas have been answered, with UEFA confirming on their official website that each national team can take three additional players to the tournament, but managers will still be restricted to 23 for each matchday squad.
“To mitigate the risks of teams facing a shortage of available players for certain matches due to possible positive COVID-19 tests results and subsequent quarantine measures ordered by competent authorities, it has been decided to exceptionally increase the player list for all participating teams to 26 players,” a statement read.
“However, 23 players shall remain the maximum number permitted on the match sheet for each individual match (in accordance with Law 3 of the IFAB Laws of the Game permitting a maximum of 12 substitutes to be named for A-national team matches), including three goalkeepers.”
Managers will have until June 1 to submit their squad lists, after which they will be permitted to make unlimited replacements to their squads in case of serious illness or injury before the first match, including players who test positive for COVID-19 or are forced into isolation after being in close contact with a positive case.
For outfield players, the list of players must be finalised before the tournament begins, but an exception has been made for goalkeepers, who can be changed out at any time if they are physically unable to play.
Crucially, once a player has been withdrawn from the competition, they may not return and must be kept off the replacements list.
The news will come as a huge blessing to this summer’s managers, many of whom face a near-impossible task of trimming their squad down to the required size.
The dilemma facing England boss Gareth Southgate has been well publicised. Trimming his squad down to 23 players would have been tricky, but with 26 now permitted, fringe players like Aston Villa duo Jack Grealish and Ollie Watkins now stand greater chances of making the cut.