After much anticipation, Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate has finally unveiled his 26-man squad for the delayed European Championships in June.
With England, one of the host nations, Southgate’s men are ranked as favourites amongst some bookmakers to lift their first ever European Championship title and achieve their second major tournament win following the iconic World Cup triumph in 1966.
Despite the unfortunate withdrawal of the precious striker Mason Greenwood due to injury, the extended squad is still home to some generational, home-grown talent.
But which of these England stars are the most likely to thrive in the tournament?
1. Phil Foden, Manchester City.
Ever since winning the U-17 World Cup back in 2017, Manchester City starlet Phil Foden has been tipped for greatness in Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side. He has already begun to realise some of his immense potential too, amassing 124 senior appearances and 31 goals in his fledgling career to date.
An impressive 16 of these strikes came this season, while Foden also laid on five assists his teammates as City completed a domestic double of Premier League and Carabao Cup.
Incredibly, the fleet-of-foot and opportunistic Foden has already won 10 major trophies, despite having only turned 21 on the 28th of May. He’s also poised to play a key role in Southgate’s side, either as an inverted, left-sided winger or one of three central midfielders.
In truth, Foden’s passing and dribbling skills make him ideal for either position, although the youngster has done most of his best work this season from the left flank.
The very definition of generational talent, Foden could well emulate Wayne Rooney’s explosive tournament debut in 2004 if he’s given enough playing time this summer.
In truth, any aspiring grassroots manager would love to develop a talent like Foden, who will surely emerge as England's main man at some point in the future.
2. Mason Mount, Chelsea.
It’s a testament to Mason Mount’s ability and work ethic that he has remained pivotal to the plans of every manager who has overseen his development.
Both Southgate and former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard were quick to establish Mount as a high-pressing creative fulcrum within their respective sides, for example, while the latter’s replacement Thomas Tuchel has also utilised Mount’s diverse skillset in a slightly more advanced midfield role.
Aside from his boundless energy and quick feet, Mount is an excellent passer who retains a keen eye for goal, while his footballing brain puts many of his senior teammates to shame.
Mount also delivered 11 goal involvements across all competitions this season (six goals and five assists), while linking the Blues’ attacking play and helping to quickly progress counter attacks.
Now a Champions League winner, Mount is playing with increased stature and a genuine sense of maturity, while his ability to fill different attacking positions also makes him a valuable asset and one that may be about to shine on the international stage.
3. Reece James, Chelsea.
Last, but not least, we come to Mount’s clubmate Reece James, who has also enjoyed a stellar season having thrived under the stewardship of the astute Tuchel.
James’ place in the squad wasn’t always certain given his relatively late emergence and the plethora of right-backs at England’s disposal, but the 21-year olds physicality, all round game, and newly-found diversity have given him an edge in Southgate’s eyes.
Nominally a right full-back or wing-back, James has recently played with huge success as a right-sided centre-back in a 3-4-3 system. This is a formation often favoured by Southgate’s with James’ pace and outstanding ability in one-on-one situations offering some much-needed cover in defence.
The youngster certainly pocketed the dangerous Raheem Sterling in the recent UCL final against Manchester City, crowning an outstanding season that has seen him emerge as one of England’s best and most rounded young talents.
Whether he starts the tournament is another matter, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be well-placed to thrive if Southgate does trust him as part of his starting 11.