We are officially in the same year as the Euros! *
It’s a new year full of optimism. There is a new president in the White House, the race for the Premier League title is wide open and there is only five months before the Euro kicked off – even though he ended up being held in one place.
The competition for places in Gareth Southgate’s squad continues to intensify as we move into the mid-stage of the national season.
Here is the form of 23 England stars for the summer squad if chosen today, ranked according to the safety of their seats on the plane wherever the tournament ends.
* as long as it is no longer moved
A new year brings a new third-choice goalie.
Dean Henderson is still confined to the cups, while Darlow is pretty much Newcastle’s only real bright spot lately.
Only Sam Johnstone has made more saves this season than the 30-year-old Toon stopper in 2020/21.
Another new entry.
For a while it looked like England could only produce options at the right-back and not the left-back (bar Ben Chilwell, obviously).
Now there is real competition for the glamorous role of being the Chelsea man’s summer understudy, with Luke Shaw, Bukayo Saka and James Justin all awesome lately.
Uncapped Justin gets the nod on Shaw for his added ability to be able to play just about anywhere.
Last month’s non-mobile, Villa’s 2021 form has been mixed, but Mings continues to be a defensive totem for Dean Smith’s side.
There are challengers but Mings firmly holds his place on the plane.
Has there been a better English player last month than James Maddison?
Southgate may have far too many options as an attacking midfielder, but J-Mads (as one can assume no one calls him) is getting very hard to ignore.
Decent in the shock victory over Liverpool, Pope is so secure in his seat on the plane that he has taken off his shoes and is already checking out the inflight entertainment.
Arsenal are good again! Who saw it coming?
At the heart of their mini-revival is Saka, who can play anywhere left… or right.
Whether Southgate wants to play with full-backs or just an exciting option off the bench, Saka, 19, is as good as any option right now.
Always present for Tottenham of Jose Mourinho, Dier goes to the Euros…
Everton continue to impress but DCL has not scored since December 5.
He also has Danny Ings, Tammy Abraham and Callum Wilson breathing down his neck. The race to become England’s other striker has become an interesting one.
Another big mover (in the wrong direction), it’s been a miserable month for Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool have forgotten how to score and the young right-back, who suffered with Covid, has been a shadow of himself.
As indicated by Squawka, Trent Alexander-Arnold attempted 18 crosses in open play for the loss to Burnley with a 0% success rate. Yikes.
Reece James, Kyle Walker-Peters, Tariq Lamptey, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Kieran Trippier, etc. waiting in the departure lounge for late cancellations.
Man City flies, Foden flies.
Get on the plane.
He ranks 14th in the Premier League for saves and clean sheets in 2020/21, but he is Southgate’s established number one and that isn’t going to change.
Fasten your seat belts, there’s a rave in this plane.
It was a good start to the year for Sancho who has two goals and two assists in 2021.
It goes up two places, appropriately.
The shinny little Villa hero continues to be one of the most exciting English players to watch right now.
It’s debated whether he’s leaving for the Three Lions, but if he gets on the plane shouldn’t be.
The other right back crown contenders have fallen… Kyle is still there. Unwavering. Building.
John Stones may be England’s best center-back right now.
This isn’t where you would have thought we would be in 2021, is it?
As Chelsea continue to struggle, Mount continues to impress with two goals already this year.
Southgate’s favorite seems like a shoo-in (and rightly so) now.
United are at the top of the table but Rashford is not at his best.
The British alternative Prime Minister didn’t score in six and has visibly struggled against Liverpool.
He’s not in danger of losing his seat or anything, but it would be nice if he regains that shimmering form before summer.
As with Mount, Chilwell has been largely free of criticism during Chelsea’s blue spell.
He is still England’s first choice several miles away.
Is there another midfielder who can play Rice for England? Probably not.
With just about every major club to look at, Rice has been excellent this month with four of four wins at West Ham.
He is in the top five.
Yes, Liverpool have been poor, although Henderson was impressed when he was pushed back to four against Manchester United.
However, Southgate cannot use it there.
The goals are still not flow for Sterling, who only has five in 2020/21, but City’s offensive performances have been impressive – especially given the lack of a suitable striker.
He’ll be one of Southgate’s most seasoned stars this summer and even a bizarre Piers Morgan campaign won’t affect that this time around.
Captain of the high side of the league, you say?
The defenses might not be terrified, but Slabhead has gained respect for his club lately and he is undoubtedly one of England’s key men.
Three goals and one assist so far in 2021, Harry Kane is so relentless.
Apparently the only thing that can stop him now is an injury …