- The organisation swelled the numbers due to concerns around Covid-19 issues
- Southgate’s selection choices already face a heightened scrutiny at 26 players
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Gareth Southgate is set to have an even greater selection headache ahead of next year’s European championships as UEFA is set to announce that national teams can take a squad of just 23 players to the tournament.
The reduced number had long been the norm at international competitions but international squads were given leeway due to the disruptive impact of Covid-19, with the number rising to 26 players.
The same number was adhered to for squads travelling to the Qatar 2022 World Cup along the same lines, with the impact of the tournament’s mid-season dates and any potential injuries to players as a result of its timing was also factored into the decision.
But as per the Sun, UEFA will return to its previous squad sizings for Euro 2024, in line with organisation’s Article 48 regulations.
The England manager’s squad selections are already picked over in detail and reducing the number of players able to feature at next year’s tournament is likely to only increase scrutiny over who makes the cut to travel to Germany.
Gareth Southgate will have a difficult squad selection process under new UEFA rulings
Squads are set to shrink back to pre-Covid sizes for next year’s European championships
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Eyebrows were also raised by the inclusion of Jordan Henderson, after the former Liverpool captain’s move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq, with some critics arguing that featuring in the less-competitive league might drain some of the player’s sharpness for national team action.
Overlooking West Ham’s standout signing James Ward-Prowse also saw Southgate in the firing line, with Ward-Prowse’s team-mate Michail Antonio calling the manager’s decision to repeatedly snub the midfielder ’embarrassing’.
Raheem Sterling has lost his place in Southgate’s squad as things stand and will have a lot to prove before the 2024 tournament
Since moving to the London Stadium, Ward-Prowse has hit the ground running, scoring twice and notching up a further seven assists across all competitions.
But players that do not currently hold Southgate’s attention could find it an even more challenging prospect to break into next year’s squad.
Despite steadily building back his form at Chelsea, Raheem Sterling has been out in the cold for the past two rounds of international ties.
Within his current set-up, England’s matchday against Italy on Tuesday saw Southgate overlook Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah and AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori for playing squad selection, when forced to reduce his 25 players to 23 on the day.
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!