It is now official. Euro 2020 has become Euro 2021, as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 virus that has stalled major football all across Europe.
There was an air of inevitability about the decision, and it is one which will benefit some, and not have the same effect on others. Here are five uncapped players for whom the extra 12 months could see them force their way into the England squad named by Gareth Southgate for the tournament.
Goalkeeper: Aaron Ramsdale – AFC Bournemouth
Dean Henderson was probably going to be in the squad this summer let alone the next one, so I’ll make a case for the Bournemouth stopper Aaron Ramsdale to force his way in. Although his form is sketchy for his club, Jordan Pickford looks a lock if fit, while Henderson will surely be back up, but the third choice is up in the air.
Aaron Ramsdale has made a big impression in a struggling Bournemouth side this season. This is his first term as custodian for the Cherries, and you would imagine he will only improve for the experience. There is a good chance that with a dynamic young squad, if Eddie Howe can keep them in the Premier League this year, they will kick on over the course of the next campaign. That third goalkeeping slot has been open for a while. Do not be surprised if Southgate has the call for the fast improving Ramsdale.
Defender: James Justin – Leicester City
In tournament football, a versatile player is worth his weight in gold. Step forward James Justin, whose versatility could see him selected ahead of Max Aarons. As a Luton Town fan I’ve seen a lot of Justin, and the first time I saw him play, for the Hatters’ youth team, I knew then he would go on and play in the Premier League and for his country. He was a midfielder then but he has progressed into an accomplished full-back on either side of the defence.
He has had to bide his time at the King Power Stadium since joining the Foxes last summer, but the drastic injury to Ricardo Pereira is sure to see him given a lot of game time over the coming months, and he has already impressed as a deputy to Ben Chilwell at left-back. Chilwell is no stranger to transfer rumours so if Brendan Rodgers decides to cash in on him knowing Justin can provide long-term back up, the chances of the youngster showing his credentials will be even greater. There aren’t many full-backs better than Justin in England. He can attack and he is composed in defence. The delay of the tournament could be huge for him.
Midfielder: Kalvin Phillips – Leeds United
We don’t know whether Leeds United will be in the Premier League next term yet, but we can rest assured that whether they are or not, Kalvin Phillips will be. The Whites’ holding midfielder is another who is versatile, in that he can slot in at centre-half too and look equally composed in either position. There has been a lot of hype around Elland Road about the Leeds academy product and once he is in the Premier League the world will soon see why. The extra 12 months will give him a good opportunity to force his way into the mix, in a position which is quite vacant outside of Declan Rice.
Midfielder: Phil Foden – Manchester City
The worst kept secret in English football is not going to be kept out of the limelight for much longer, and with David Silva in the twilight of his Manchester City career and rumours surfacing that Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez could be allowed to leave the Etihad Stadium, it is only a matter of time before the fringe spot Phil Foden is currently fulfilling gets upgraded to a permanent member of the Citizens first team. In this era of youngsters being handed their chance to shine in an England shirt, it is a surprise Foden hasn’t been called up for senior honours yet. It will be hard to keep him away in another 15 months from now though.
Striker: Mason Greenwood – Manchester United
They have a decent prospect over on the red side of Manchester as well, and the extra 12 months until the tournament comes along could be gold dust for Mason Greenwood. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been placing more and more trust in his youngster as this season has progressed, and the teenager is only likely to improve for next term as a result. England don’t have a lot of centre-forward options outside of Harry Kane, with Jamie Vardy retired. Kane himself is building up quite an injury record and could depart Tottenham between now and the tournament. Big things come out of the United academy and go on to international honours. Greenwood looks like being another and could do it in time for Euro 2021.