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England set for shock tactical tweak as likely Rice partner for Serbia revealed


TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD is in “pole position” to start in Gareth Southgate’s midfield for England’s opening game of the Euros against Serbia, according to reports.

There has been much debate surrounding the third spot in the middle of the park, with Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham certainties for Sunday’s clash.

Gareth Southgate looks set to make a bold call in midfield


Gareth Southgate looks set to make a bold call in midfieldCredit: Rex
Trent Alexander-Arnold looks set to start in midfield with Declan Rice


Trent Alexander-Arnold looks set to start in midfield with Declan RiceCredit: Getty

Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo and Adam Wharton have all been considered as options.

Some have also called for Bellingham to play deeper, freeing up Phil Foden to move from the left into the No10 position.

But according to The Telegraph, Liverpool man Alexander-Arnold is the front-runner to kick off the tournament in Southgate’s side.

Having progressed into midfield from right-back, he impressed for his country in a 3-0 win over Bosnia last week.

Alexander-Arnold, who has been given the No8 shirt for the Euros, scored a superb volley to round off an accomplished display in which his stunning range of passing was front and centre.

He also came off the bench in Friday’s 1-0 defeat to Iceland – taking his number of caps to 25.

A source told The Telegraph: “A lot can change, obviously, but Trent was given the No 8 shirt for a reason.”

England flew to Germany from Birmingham Airport on Monday, six days before they begin a campaign they will be hoping runs until July 14.


The most like England team for the game against Serbia on Sunday


The most like England team for the game against Serbia on Sunday

Gareth Southgate will take the handbrake off at Euro 2024… because he has no choice

By Charlie Wyett

GARETH SOUTHGATE will have no choice but to take the handbrake off his England team at Euro 2024.

The defensive crisis gripping the Three Lions means the only option in Germany, within ­reason, will be outright attack.

Southgate has often been lambasted for his safety-first approach — even if he points out you must go back to Walter Winterbottom’s sides in the 1950s to find an England manager with a better scoring record.

But with the crocked Harry Maguire left out, Luke Shaw not fit enough to start the tournament and John Stones having made just 12 ­Premier League starts this season, this is not a defence you would stake your life on.

The last time England went to a major tournament in Germany — the 2006 World Cup — the four centre-backs selected were Sol Campbell (68 caps), Rio Ferdinand (47), Jamie Carragher (25) and John Terry (24).

This time, when England fly out on Monday, the quartet will be Lewis Dunk (six), Joe Gomez (14), Marc Guehi (ten) and Ezri Konsa (three).

It makes Southgate’s decision not to recall the 49-cap Eric Dier for his ­provisional squad even stranger — especially considering his strong end to the season with Bayern Munich.

The elder statesman in his defence — and the one who absolutely has to stay fit — is 71-cap Stones.

And it is understood Southgate will be keeping a close eye on a number of his players when they begin training amid fitness concerns.

John Stones, Bukayo Saka, Foden, Bellingham and Luke Shaw are all carrying various issues.

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Stones was substituted at half-time in the loss to Iceland, while Saka has yet to shake off a groin injury picked up at the end of the Premier League season.

Foden and Bellingham are also being monitored, while Shaw is near a return to selection but is not expected to be ready for the Serbia game.

This is likely to mean Kieran Trippier will start at left-back for their Euros opener, before they face Denmark on June 20 and Slovenia five days later.

England’s base for the Euros is the luxury Weimarer Land Golf Hotel and Spa in central Germany.

The FA snapped up the 350-acre resort — including a Wembley-quality training pitch and three golf courses — in an £800,000 deal in November.


What Southgate said about axed England stars

WHAT Gareth Southgate said about his axed England stars after confirming his 26-man England squad for Euro 2024.

Harry Maguire

“The decision on Harry [Maguire] is totally about his physical condition and his recovery from the injury. There is no other reason as he is one of our strongest centre-backs.

“Harry has made some progress, but it’s been complicated and we wouldn’t have had him in the group stages. There were too many hurdles to get through without being clear where we might get to.

“Knowing we haven’t got a clean bill of health across the rest of the backline, we need players who are fit and ready to go from the start.

“It was a really difficult call, you know how I feel about Harry, what he’s done for England and for me as a manager. “

Jack Grealish

“I have just delivered a really difficult conversation to a lad who is devastated.

“I think the world of him as a kid.“It certainly doesn’t get any easier.

“You put yourself in the shoes of a player, a parent. You understand that for these players this is a devastating moment.

“We knew we had a couple of really difficult days coming up.”

James Maddison

“Madders [Maddison] and Jack [Grealish] would have provided us with something different as well and they’ve been tough calls.

“They’re calls we’ve gone over and over and over as a group of staff to try to be fair and to try to use the right rationale.

“We back our decisions but we recognise we could have gone a different route. The boys are big characters, fabulous team-mates and great boys to work with.

“It’s sad to have to deliver that news to them.”

Jarrad Branthwaite

“It’s a bit early for Jarrad [Branthwaite]. He has had a fabulous season, it was good to get him on the pitch the other night.

“But of course, in an ideal world, you’d like that balance of left-footers. For him to be in ahead of the others, I don’t think it would have been the right call at this stage.”

Jarell Quansah

“Jarell Quansah has stayed with us. He’s not had the experience of an England international at Wembley. It’ll be great for him to be us for the game.

“Hopefully we’re not needing to call anyone else in.”

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