England Faces Defensive Concerns Ahead of Euro 2024

As Gareth Southgate’s England team wrapped up their final warm-up match before Euro 2024, the Three Lions boss may have been left with more questions than answers. England welcomed Iceland to Wembley on Friday night, but despite hoping for a confidence-boosting victory, they struggled in a 1-0 defeat.

While Jude Bellingham missed out as a result of his Champions League win with Real Madrid and Bukayo Saka only fit enough for a spot on the bench, Southgate named arguably his strongest side. The performance, however, raised some concerns, particularly in the defensive department.

With Kyle Walker secured at right-back, the other three positions in the backline continue to give Southgate sleepless nights. Luke Shaw has made England’s 26-man squad, but faces a tough task to be deemed fit to compete at the level required for Euro 2024. Kieran Trippier has played there in England’s two warm-up matches, but his performances have not put fans’ minds at ease. Ezri Konsa is an option to play there, but he could also be needed at centre-back with John Stones and Marc Guehi requiring treatment against Iceland.

Both Stones and Guehi are expected to be fit, but with Jarell Quansah being kept on standby, it is clear that England’s defensive options are thin at best – not what you need as you prepare to embark on what you hope will be a month-long trip to Germany for the Euros.

Another area of concern for England is the form of Phil Foden. The Manchester City star, who has been unplayable for his club this season, looked anonymous in the white of England against Iceland. talkSPORT commentator Jim Proudfoot is not totally convinced that Foden should be a dead-cert to start for the Three Lions, with the likes of Cole Palmer and Eberechi Eze impressing in recent England camps.

However, Foden should have enough credit in the bank to ensure he retains his starting spot, with Southgate confident that a few more days of training will see the midfielder rediscover his form.

One player who will undoubtedly play a crucial role for England at Euro 2024 is Jude Bellingham. The 20-year-old was given an extra week to rest after helping Real Madrid to Champions League glory, and his presence was sorely missed against Iceland, with Declan Rice and Kobbie Mainoo struggling to gel in the middle of the park.

Despite the concerns, there were some positives for Southgate to take from the Iceland match. Anthony Gordon, the Newcastle star, impressed with his pace and direct running, and may have given the England boss a selection dilemma to ponder ahead of the tournament.

As for Harry Kane, the in-form striker is still looking to recapture the sort of form that saw him thrive at Bayern Munich this season. Kane is fully fit for England, but after coming on in the second half against Bosnia and lasting just over an hour against Iceland, it appears that he isn’t firing on all cylinders just yet.

With England’s group stage opener against Serbia just a week away, Southgate’s biggest task will be ensuring that Kane is fit and firing for that crucial clash. If the Three Lions fail to turn their dominance into goals, it could be a frustrating tournament for the national team.

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