Gareth Southgate names England squad’s four-man ‘leadership group’ at Euro 2024

Jude Bellingham, Luke Shaw, Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Kyle Walker, West Ham, England Football Team, Euro 2024

Jude Bellingham will play a major role both on and off the pitch for England (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

Gareth Southgate has revealed young star Jude Bellingham is part of England’s new-look leadership group at Euro 2024.

The 20-year-old’s inexorable rise shows no signs of abating, with fine spells at boyhood team Birmingham and Borussia Dortmund followed by a dream start to life at Real Madrid.

Bellingham won LaLiga and the competition’s best player award in his first season with the Spanish giants, who he also helped win a 15th Champions League trophy at Wembley a fortnight ago.

The midfielder returns to action wearing an England shirt in Sunday’s Group C opener against Serbia, ahead of which Southgate revealed the youngster is part of his new leadership group.

“I think we have a very open relationship with all of the players,” the national team boss said in Gelsenkirchen. “We have actually put a small leadership group together for this tournament now with Harry, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham because there’s a different dynamic to this group.

“There’s a lot of younger players and I want to make sure that the voices of the younger players, I am in touch with that as well.

“So, I don’t want to leave here with any stone unturned. I don’t want to have missed anything. It’s always important to know what the players are thinking.

Those boys are leaders, the squad has taken on a younger dynamic so it's important they start to embrace more responsibility in those areas

Gareth Southgate

“They have good views, they have good experiences and, also, there will be some decisions I will take without talking to any of them.”

Picking Bellingham this time around is a logical step given his experience, quality and maturity, so too adding Rice, 25, having captained West Ham to Conference League glory and kicked on at Arsenal.

“I want the opinions of the four boys but also they’re involved with different age groups in the squad, so they’ll be able to pick up with different areas of the squad,” Southgate said.

“We’ve got 26. It’s not easy to keep track of how everyone is every day. You want to open up that dialogue.

“Sometimes with younger players, they’re going to be a little bit more reluctant to approach the head coach and talk about what they’re thinking, so you want a sense check of what’s going on on the ground.

“Those boys are leaders, the squad has taken on a younger dynamic so it’s important they start to embrace more responsibility in those areas.

“It shouldn’t just be for the older players to lead, a lot of our younger players have a lot of caps and a lot of big-match experience.

“I could have put more into the group but I think four’s enough. We’ll meet regularly and feed back on everything, basically.”

The quartet are all set to start against Serbia on Sunday, when left-back Luke Shaw could be involved.

The Manchester United defender has been out with a hamstring issue since mid-February but has progressed well in his rehabilitation with England.

“Everyone is available,” he said. “We have a decision whether Luke is possible to use from the bench or not.

“But everybody has trained today and is available.”

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