Southgate named Euros squad early to avoid 'mess'

England manager Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate has won 58, drawn 21 and lost 15 of his 94 matches as England manager [Getty Images]

England v Iceland

Date: Friday, 7 June. Venue: Wembley Stadium. Time: 19:45 BST.

BBC coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and text commentary on BBC Sport website and app.

England manager Gareth Southgate says he named his Euro 2024 squad early so his players could keep their "heads clear" and focus on Friday's game against Iceland.

Southgate has until Friday at 23:00 BST to confirm his 26-man group, but named his squad on Thursday, a day before his side's final warm-up match.

The England boss had originally selected 33 players in his shortlist, with goalkeeper James Trafford, defenders Jarrad Branthwaite, Harry Maguire and Jarell Quansah, midfielder Curtis Jones and forwards Jack Grealish and James Maddison missing out.

"I didn't want to keep the players waiting until Friday - that would have been a mess, really," Southgate told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It wouldn't have been fair on the players that we've released and wouldn't have been fair on the players that were waiting to have confirmation they were in."

Liverpool centre-back Quansah has remained with the squad and could feature against Iceland at Wembley, but unless there are any injuries the 21-year-old will not be going to Germany.

England beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-0 at St James' Park on Monday and face an Iceland side that have not qualified for Euro 2024 after losing 2-1 to Ukraine in a play-off in March.

"Inevitably, we knew when we named a 33 there would be a period of a nice prep camp, and then there were going to be a couple of days where there would be a lot of anxiety and difficult days," added Southgate.

"But now everybody's heads are clear, they can look forward to the game, and when they come back in on Sunday they can really start looking forward to the tournament."

England lost 3-2 to Italy on penalties in the final of Euro 2020 in July 2021.

However, three years on and this current squad is without Maguire, Kalvin Phillips, Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Grealish - who all featured in that match.

Asked whether he had changed from remaining loyal to those who have served him well in the past to picking a team of the moment, Southgate replied: "I think that loyalty is still there.

"It's an important part of building a team, but also you have got to pick the players you think will give you the best chance of winning. We have a lot of players with a lot of caps, a lot of tournament experience and some due to physical issues aren't able to deliver for us."

England squad for Euro 2024

Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal).

Defenders: Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace).

Forwards: Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle), Harry Kane (Bayern Munich), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa).

Dropped from original 33-man shortlist: James Trafford (Burnley, goalkeeper), Jarrad Branthwaite (Everton, defender), Jarell Quansah (Liverpool, defender), Harry Maguire (Manchester United, defender), Curtis Jones (Liverpool, midfielder), Jack Grealish (Manchester City, forward), James Maddison (Tottenham, forward).

Pick your England team for Euro 2024