The delayed European Championship is just around the corner with preparations for the tournament ramping up.
Gareth Southgate named a provisional squad of 33 players on Tuesday and will whittle that down to 26 next week on Tuesday, June 1.
The reason behind the decision to name a provisional group is the number of injury concerns he has.
Harry Maguire remains a doubt with an ankle injury which could keep him out of Manchester United’s Europa League final on Wednesday.
Jordan Henderson has not played since February due to a groin injury, while Kalvin Phillips picked up a recent shoulder problem.
Meanwhile, there are two friendlies against Austria and Romania before the competitive football starts.
Then attentions will turn to the first group game where the Three Lions face Croatia on June 13 at Wembley, with England hoping for revenge after their 2018 World Cup semi-final exit.
So, talkSPORT.com has done its best to predict who Southgate will pick for England’s Euro 2020 opener…
He has been in inconsistent form since the start of the 2018/19 season, but Jordan Pickford has remained a firm favourite under Southgate.
He had Nick Pope breathing down his neck for a starting place, however, the Burnley goalkeeper will miss Euro 2020 because of knee surgery.
Pickford is likely to have Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone challenging him at Euro 2020, but the Everton stopper is almost certain to be Southgate’s No.1.
After being left out of England squads last year, Kyle Walker and John Stones have turned their international careers around.
Both played key roles in Man City’s Premier League and Carabao Cup triumphs and could end the 2020/21 season with three trophies if they beat Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday.
Stones is expected to partner Maguire in defence with Southgate hoping the latter will be fit in time for the tournament.
He has travelled with the Manchester United squad for their Europa League final against Villarreal, which could suggest he will be fit enough to play.
One of many selection headaches for Southgate comes at left-back – Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell?
Despite Shaw’s consistent season, Southgate could go for Chilwell, who has regularly started for England since 2018.
With England facing a tough Croatia side, Southgate is likely to play with two holding midfielders.
Declan Rice, like Pickford, is one of the first names on the team sheet given his impressive form for West Ham over the past three seasons.
Rice is likely to be joined by his boyhood friend, Mason Mount, with a third central midfield position up for grabs.
With Henderson missing so much first-team action for most of 2021, Southgate could put his faith in Phillips.
The Leeds midfielder injured his shoulder in their final-day win over West Brom, but his club ‘remain confident’ he will be fit for the Euros.
A statement read: “Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips picked up a shoulder injury in the closing stages of Sunday’s Premier League fixture with West Bromwich Albion.
“This is currently being treated conservatively. However, we remain confident he will be available for Euro 2020, if selected for the England squad.”
England have an array of attacking talent which could lead to Southgate playing different aces in each group stage game.
While Raheem Sterling did not have his best season for City, he has never let Southgate down and scored eight goals in the qualifying matches.
Meanwhile, Southgate will find it extremely difficult to leave Phil Foden out, especially if Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is not back to his best in time for the tournament having recently returned from a three-month injury lay-off.
Jadon Sancho will also feel hard done by if he fails to start against Croatia given his eight goals and 11 assists in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund this season.
And finally, England’s hopes of a memorable tournament will be pinned on the form of Harry Kane.
The Tottenham striker won the Premier League’s Golden Boot with 23 goals, while registering a league-high 14 assists.
Kane won the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot and will be aiming to add the European Championship Golden Boot to his impressive collection of individual awards.
How England could look against Croatia on June 13…
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