England Euro 2021 squad: Grealish, Foden and Mount feature in alternative playmaker XI

England Euro 2021

Gareth Southgate is spoilt for choice at number ten ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 competition this summer. 

England’s esteemed collection of first-class right-backs, including seasoned internationals Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold as well as up-and-coming youngsters Reece James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, represent a golden generation for that particular position. 

But the Three Lions are also blessed with a phenomenal array of talent in attacking midfield. 

Debate over exactly who should earn selection for the squad this summer has rumbled on in recent months, with Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Mason Mount and James Maddison all building stark cases ahead of the tournament. 

With so many options to choose from, GIVEMESPORT have taken an alternative look at the options available to Southgate.

Indeed, we’ve created an England XI comprising solely of playmakers who are vying for a coveted spot in the Euro 2021 squad. 

The majority have been placed into unfamiliar positions based on their credentials to perform away from the comfort of a forward-thinking midfield role.

It’s a starting line-up that truly serves to underline England’s strength in depth ahead of what could effectively be the first home tournament since 1996. 

Let’s take a look at who makes the cut…

Goalkeeper: Ruben Loftus-Cheek


Ruben Loftus-Cheek has steadily improved at Fulham in recent weeks, but his late rally is unlikely to secure him a place in the squad this summer. 

Standing at 6ft 3in, the 10-cap England international naturally dons the ‘keeper gloves as the tallest player within this XI.

Right-back: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Blessed with excellent physicality and tantalising delivery from wide areas, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could easily transfer his box-to-box style of attacking midfield play to a full-back role. 

Injury problems have seriously dampened his chances of making the squad this summer and he’s an outside bet at best. 

Centre-back: Ross Barkley 

One of the nearly players of the Premier League.

Ross Barkley has it all, but his decision-making lets him down all too often. 

A strong physical presence who doesn’t shy away from a 50-50, perhaps Barkley should have been a centre-back all along. 

Centre-back: Dele Alli


Dele Alli joins Barkley at centre-back to form a duo of failed promise.

The Spurs star was a fundamental component of the England side that reached the World Cup semi-final in 2018, but it would be a huge shock if he managed to return to the international fold this summer. 

He’ll need all of his 6ft 2in to dominate the aerial battles alongside Barkley.  

Left-back: James Ward-Prowse 

Where else would you put Mr Versatile?

Before modern tactics made full-back one of the most fashionable positions on the field, left-back was a position reserved for either the worst or most adaptable player. 

Ward-Prowse certainly fits the latter description, and his sumptuous delivery from set-pieces would make him a dangerous weapon in the final-third. 

Perhaps he can even mirror Joao Cancelo in an inverted left-back role. 

Centre-midfield: James Maddison


Now we’re getting into more natural territory. 

Maddison may not be the most dogged and diligent retriever of the ball but he still averages 1.1 tackles per game in the Premier League and could adapt to a more disciplined position in the centre of the park.

Leicester City’s playmaker-in-chief has been in brilliant form of late but he’s a dark horse for the squad due to the calibre of the competition. 

Centre-midfield: Jack Grealish

There will be a mutiny amongst England fans if Grealish doesn’t earn selection for Euro 2021. 

Most fans are in unanimous agreement that he should be in the starting XI, never mind the squad, but Southgate’s infamous love affair with Mount may deprive him of a starting berth. 

Back in 2019, Grealish admitted that he favours a box-to-box role. 

“I don’t think the manager will like me saying this, but I prefer playing as a number eight, but I’ll play wherever the manager wants.” 

Your wish is our command, Jack.

Right wing: Jesse Lingard


Messi Lingard, otherwise known as Jesse Lingard, has made a timely return to form since joining West Ham United on a season-long loan.

Like Alli, Lingard was one of Southgate’s key players at the 2018 World Cup and is clearly rated by the England boss. 

With the tendency to drift inside from wide positions, he’s a natural fit on the right wing. 

If he continues his recent rich vein of form and enables West Ham to qualify for the Champions League, there’s no doubt he’ll be in with a shout of making a return to international action on the big stage.

Left wing: Emile Smith-Rowe 

Emile Smith-Rowe has been a joy to watch this season and it’s no coincidence that his promotion to the starting XI has coincided with a tangible improvement in Arsenal’s results. 

The 20-year-old is at his best in a number ten role but, like Lingard, he can make a devastating impact by cutting in from the touchline. 

Euro 2021 is likely to come too soon Smith-Rowe given the wealth of options available to Southgate, but don’t be surprised if he’s called up to the squad for the next international break in March.

Attacking midfield: Mason Mount 

Providing he avoids any serious injuries before the end of the season, Mason Mount is going to Euro 2021. 

He appears to be Southgate’s preferred option at number ten, and his excellent performances at Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel will only strengthen his chances of starting the opening fixture against Croatia on 13 June.

Centre-forward: Phil Foden

Having operated as a free-flowing false-nine on a number of occasions at Manchester City this season, Phil Foden is a natural choice at centre-forward. 

His lightning speed, immaculate control and eye for goal will surely guarantee him a place in Southgate’s squad this summer. 

A few more displays in the mould of his Man of the Match display in City’s 4-1 win against Liverpool will put him firmly in contention for a place in England’s starting XI.

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