England's band of brilliant kids can take Euro 2024 by storm... Gareth Southgate's squad shows that he IS a risk-taker, writes IAN LADYMAN

Gareth Southgate named his provisional 33-man squad for Euro 2024 todayHe backed several young and exciting players over some experienced starsIAN LADYMAN: The Premier League title race went to the wire, it is not boring compared to other European leagues! - Listen to the It's All Kicking Off! podcast 

Gareth Southgate sat and explained his reasoning regarding his squad selection for the European Championship in a room with a picture of Marcus Rashford on the wall. In international football, life moves fast.

There will be no Rashford in Germany this summer. There will be no Jordan Henderson and, less surprisingly, no Raheem Sterling either. That’s 223 caps and 40 international goals gone at the scribbling of 33 names down on a piece of paper.

Some will call it brave, others will suggest it is overdue. Whatever your take, England’s road to what we hope will be a Euro 2024 final appearance in Berlin on July 14 has started on the back of an investment in a breed of young and exciting players, some of whom even Southgate did not see arriving on his tactics board as recently as a year ago.

Cole Palmer. Anthony Gordon. Kobbie Mainoo. Who really saw any of them coming? Who cares?

There is some bad news, too. Isn’t there always with England? Only one of Southgate’s preferred back four, Kyle Walker, is currently playing any football. The injury bulletin delivered on his only left back, Luke Shaw, was delivered with all the solemnity of a hospital doctor calling for a priest. So, yes, there will be challenges. There will be puzzles to solve.

Gareth Southgate named his provisional 33-man England squad for Euro 2024 on Tuesday

Gareth Southgate named his provisional 33-man England squad for Euro 2024 on Tuesday

The England boss made some big calls, like leaving out the struggling Marcus Rashford

The England boss made some big calls, like leaving out the struggling Marcus Rashford

But he also left out several experienced stars like Jordan Henderson, with youth preferred

But he also left out several experienced stars like Jordan Henderson, with youth preferred

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But first to the sunny side of the conversation. England will be a hot ticket in Germany this summer. Rarely has an England manager headed to a tournament with so many attacking options.

Phil Foden, for example, is the player of the year in the Premier League. Jude Bellingham may be a Champions League winner with Real Madrid a week on Saturday. Harry Kane has scored so many goals for Bayern Munich that he threatened to break all Bundesliga records.

Then there are the newbies and the outliers. Palmer, the new darling of Chelsea. Gordon, transformed from a skittish winger at Everton to an international-class forward by 18 months with Eddie Howe at Newcastle.

All that before we talk about Ollie Watkins — all grown up with 19 Premier League goals for Aston Villa this season — and those we have long since known about, Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Jarrod Bowen.

There were familiar conversations to be had with the England manager yesterday.

Can Foden play in a central role? Yes, he can but equally he may not. Do we have an understudy for Kane? Yes, but not really. Do we have the courage to play with one holding player rather than two? Yes, but it depends on the opposition.

So far, so normal. There were, though, some newer issues at play. The squad Southgate presented at 2pm yesterday comprised 33 names and will be cut by seven by the time England have played two friendlies in early June. It is, unusually, relatively inexperienced.

Ten players, for example, have gone from the group he took to the Qatar World Cup 18 months ago. Only 16 of this 33 have 10 or more caps. Kane is the squad’s top scorer with 62 goals. Beyond that, only Bukayo Saka is in double figures and he has scored 11. The third-highest scorer in this group? Harry Maguire with seven.

Some of this reboot is Southgate’s by choice. The 53-year-old has been accused of favouritism in the past. Not today.

Henderson, for example, was still in Southgate’s team last November and still in his squad as recently as March. Now his international career lies dormant and may even be extinct.

Equally, Southgate admitted yesterday that some of the names in this group — particularly across the back — have been chosen with the unknown in mind.

‘We’ve never had so many injuries, so many unknown situations,’ said Southgate.

England's attacking options for Euro 2024 are mouthwatering, led by the likes of Phil Foden

England's attacking options for Euro 2024 are mouthwatering, led by the likes of Phil Foden

It has been amazing to see breakthrough stars like Cole Palmer make their way into the squad

It has been amazing to see breakthrough stars like Cole Palmer make their way into the squad

But, there are major concerns in defence, with three of Southgate's first choice back four having barely played recently, while Luke Shaw is in a race against time to be fit

But, there are major concerns in defence, with three of Southgate's first choice back four having barely played recently, while Luke Shaw is in a race against time to be fit

‘There are some injury issues that are very obvious and apparent, and there are some that are a little bit more nuanced and that we don’t have all the information on.

‘Sometimes you need to work with the players and see how they react physically to training.

‘This has been as complicated a group as I can remember picking — and we’ve had quite a few complicated ones.’

As it stands, left back Shaw is the biggest issue. The Manchester United defender has not played since the middle of February due to a thigh problem and Southgate is openly pessimistic.

‘I’d have to say he’s a long shot,’ he said.

Beyond that, the exiling of Henderson and Kalvin Phillips has left England looking a little light at the base of midfield.

Asked if Declan Rice — and by extension the team — were in danger of being left rather exposed, Southgate said: ‘Yeah. No question.

‘I’ve talked a lot about numbers and players and of course people don’t want to hear it because we’ve got so much talent in certain areas of the pitch.

‘But the impact of those numbers is clear in certain positions. So we’ll just have to do that differently.

Southgate went on to praise inexperienced members of his squad, such as Anthony Gordon

Southgate went on to praise inexperienced members of his squad, such as Anthony Gordon

‘We don’t have another Rice-type profile of player. So the last few months I’ve been thinking, “Declan with who?” and, “Who if without Declan?” and they’re the things, when everyone is saying we have a procession to Berlin, that I have to worry about.’

One would hope Southgate is not fretting too much about what his team will do when they have the ball. That in itself is a joyful thought. ‘You would like players playing regularly, fully fit, with a load of caps and experience of winning but it doesn’t dictate everything,’ Southgate added when asked about the inexperienced nature of his roster.

‘But we’ve got to pick the players we think at the moment are the best ones to take the team forward.

‘We believe the Gordons and the Bowens have had brilliant seasons. We liked the hunger they came in with in March.

‘That gives a different dynamic to training and competition for places. It doesn’t allow complacency within the group.

However, he did admit there was a slight concern about England's vulnerabilities in defence

However, he did admit there was a slight concern about England's vulnerabilities in defence

‘They’re all things I think are really important.’

As always, Southgate carried the air yesterday of a man comfortable with his choices.

He has something to live up to this time, though. He has said previously that the time for going close at summer tournaments is gone.

Increasingly, there is a responsibility to win one and it rests with him.

Few teams should be as intriguing or hopefully as exciting to watch as England in Germany this summer. It’s been a while since we said that. The problem of keeping the back door closed when they don’t have the ball is Southgate’s to solve.

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