The former Three Lions defender is surprised by the lack of strikers in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad, with fitness gambles being taken
England have been warned that Harry Kane could end up being a “major problem” for them this summer, with Gareth Southgate naming the Tottenham star as one of just two strikers in his Euro 2020 squad.
Eyebrows were raised when four right-backs were included in an initial 26-man selection, with Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold now ruled out through injury, but questions are also being asked at the other end of the field.
Kane has endured niggling knocks in recent years and, with Everton frontman Dominic Calvert-Lewin the only other No 9 in the Three Lions’ ranks, another setback could cause Southgate serious problems.
What has been said?
Former England defender Pallister told Goal: “Harry has had his problems with his ankles over the last two or three seasons. That’s something that you’ve got to be aware of. I’d be more concerned about that, if we got an injury to Harry Kane.
“Marcus [Rashford] can play through there, and Raheem [Sterling] – they have had a difficult end to the season. I’d be more concerned about the forwards than the defenders.
“Marcus and Raheem have done well for England, so they have plenty in the bank. If you get an injury to Harry Kane, then you have a major problem.”
Who else is a concern?
Kane is fit and firing but others are struggling for match sharpness.
Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson are skippers at Manchester United and Liverpool and have been selected for their leadership qualities, but both sat out the end of domestic action in 2020-21 and are recovering from ankle and groin problems respectively.
“Henderson hasn’t played for a few months now. I would be more concerned about Henderson,” Pallister said.
“How many times has this happened in major tournaments with England? [David] Beckham, [Wayne] Rooney and others have come in with injuries and maybe not had the performances that they wanted in these big tournaments. You wonder whether that is match sharpness.
“It’s been four weeks since Harry played, has he lost that sharpness? He’s probably still got a bit and it would only take a game or so to get back up to speed. Henderson, I’m a little bit more concerned.”
Who could come back in?
With doubts over Henderson and Alexander-Arnold now ruled out, spaces are opening up in Southgate’s plans.
Jesse Lingard, who earned an international recall on the back of a productive loan spell at West Ham, was left out of England’s 26-man party, but he may be offered a reprieve after the friendly against Romania on Sunday.
On the 28-year-old being left out, Pallister said: “I feel for him. He had a tough time at the end with United before he went out on loan with issues off the pitch. Fair play to the lad, he has gone to West Ham and said ‘I still have what it takes to be a top Premier League player and get myself back into the England squad’.
“I thought he maybe had enough in the bank to get through because if you’re talking about form, then he is one of the form players in the Premier League. I think that is something Gareth has talked about in the past, but you can only pick so many and we have got some great options in and around that area.
“I think he can count himself unlucky not to be involved in the final 26, but fair play to the kid because he’s rebuilt his career after it looked as though it was going into a bit of a lull. Man Utd have now got to make a decision about whether to bring him back into the fold or let him go.”
What is the target for England?
Whoever plays for the Three Lions, expectations are high. A run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup captured the imagination of a success-starved nation, with the hope being that another challenge for major silverware can be mounted by an exciting young side.
“If you get to the semi-finals, it’s decent,” Pallister, who won 22 caps for his country, said ahead of Group D meetings with Croatia, Scotland and Czech Republic.
“We’re in the winning business and we’re frustrated because we’ve not won a major tournament for such a long time, but there are good sides out there. It’s going to be difficult.
“I think the minimum is getting out of the group stage and then going from there. You can get one of the favourites in the quarter-finals, depending on how your group stage goes.
“You want to see improvement. We had that great World Cup and then had a bit of a lull. We haven’t had that same vibe that we had in the World Cup.
“I think we have players that can really excite, when you look at [Phil] Foden, [Jack] Grealish, [Mason] Mount – the creativity that brings to the side. Even your full-backs – Luke Shaw, [Ben] Chilwell, Reece James – there is creativity in the side and you want to see them being able to flourish. If I see that with this England team, then I’ll be pleased.
“If we hit our straps, who knows how far we can go. I just want to see the team express themselves, let the shackles off and let these creative players go and do some damage.”
Gary Pallister previewed Euro 2020 with SBK. Download the SBK sportsbook app for the latest Euros odds and betting, where England are 26/5 to lift the trophy (18+ please bet responsibly)