Preparations for Euro 2020 were supposed to ramp up this weekend with international friendlies and play-off games, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament has now been postponed until next summer.
It was a chance for managers to try out players before making their final Euro 2020 squad decisions while Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should have been gearing up for their play-off fixtures.
With at least another year to wait, which players will benefit from the extra time and who could miss out? We take a look at a few of the contenders…
Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford have been injured in recent months
Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham
Who would start up front for England this summer was beginning to become a bit of a concern, with captain Harry Kane (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (back) and Tammy Abraham (ankle) all picking up injuries in quick succession.
Kane had scored in two of the three Premier League games before his injury and had six goals in five Champions League appearances. Since Kane’s injury Tottenham have dropped to eighth in the Premier League table and been knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League.
3:27 Highlights of England’s 4-0 win over Kosovo in their final Euro 2020 qualifying match
Highlights of England’s 4-0 win over Kosovo in their final Euro 2020 qualifying match
Rashford had scored four goals in his last four league games before being sidelined and in each Carabao Cup game in which he played, while Abraham was spearheading Chelsea’s attack with 13 goals in 25 Premier League games.
Kane has already said he is close to a return with the expectation that Rashford and Abraham will also be back by the time the Premier League resumes. As for next summer, Kane and Rashford are pretty much assured of their spots if they keep themselves fit, while Abraham may have a little more to prove to earn himself a place.
4:37 Highlights of the European Qualifier Group C game between the Netherlands and Northern Ireland
Highlights of the European Qualifier Group C game between the Netherlands and Northern Ireland
It was going to be touch and go for Memphis Depay to make the Netherlands squad after suffering an ACL injury at the end of 2019. Despite previous disciplinary issues at national level, Depay was indispensable for Ronald Koeman last year.
He missed two European Qualifiers, but in the remaining six games, he scored or assisted in each and did both in three of those matches. The 26-year-old netted six times and assisted an astonishing 10 goals.
Koeman will now be breathing a sigh of relief that one of his most influential players has been given more time to recover with Depay needing to keep himself off the treatment table.
Leroy Sane clutches his leg after picking up an injury during the Community Shield
Another ACL casualty, Leroy Sane injured his 10 minutes into the new season during a Community Shield victory against Liverpool. His spot in Germany’s squad this summer was under question, having yet to feature for Manchester City since his injury, but there is now hope for the 24-year-old.
Being included for Euro 2020 will complete a period of vindication for Sane after he was left out of the 2018 World Cup squad in favour of Julian Brandt, during which Germany finished bottom of their group.
2:08 Highlights from Group C of the UEFA European Qualifying match between Germany and Estonia
Highlights from Group C of the UEFA European Qualifying match between Germany and Estonia
Sane was recalled to the squad after the tournament and in November 2018, scored his first senior goal against Russia in a friendly. His second followed four days later in a Nations League draw against the Netherlands.
He played in the first three European Qualifiers before his injury – scoring in each game – and would have been an expected inclusion this summer based on that form. Now, his focus must be on coming back from a long-term injury and playing in a second successive European Championships.
Paul Pogba, Ousmane Dembele and Aymeric Laporte
Paul Pogba won the 2018 World Cup with France, but has barely played this season
France are not short of a talented footballer or two, but these three have a real chance of making the squad now they have extra time to rebuild their fitness.
Paul Pogba’s absence from Manchester United has been well documented with various injuries and illnesses, while Aymeric Laporte has been a huge miss for Manchester City. He began the season in superb form, seemingly the perfect replacement for Vincent Kompany, but suffered a knee injury in August that has hampered the rest of his season.
Aymeric Laporte’s season has been disrupted by injury
As for Barcelona midfielder Ousmane Dembele, he suffered a hamstring tear in February – ruling him out for six months – with the football suspension coming just over a month later.
Pogba and Dembele were both included in France’s World Cup-winning squad while, surprisingly, Laporte is yet to earn an international cap. There is also the question of Dembele’s future at Barcelona, with his three-year stay at the club blighted by injuries and indiscipline.
Cenk Tosun was Turkey’s top scorer in European Qualification
A horrible 2019/20 for Cenk Tosun was compounded at the start of March when he ruptured his ACL. He had failed to hold down a starting spot at Everton, but was finding his feet at Crystal Palace when his season was abruptly ended.
He looked certain to miss out on Euro 2020 with Turkey, having been the country’s top scorer in qualifying with five goals. But with another year added to the calendar, Tosun sent out a celebratory tweet and will be hoping an upturn in fortunes can seal his spot at the tournament.
It was set to be a sad summer for Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo. The talented youngster was a sure inclusion in Roberto Mancini’s Euro 2020 squad but after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL in January, it left him with only a small window to be selected.
3:51 Highlights of Italy’s dominant 9-1 win over Armenia in their final Euro 2020 qualifying match
Highlights of Italy’s dominant 9-1 win over Armenia in their final Euro 2020 qualifying match
Now, he has been given a lifeline to feature at his first major international tournament.
Zaniolo, a skilled and versatile midfielder, made his senior debut just over a year ago, already winning five caps with two goals and an assist. He adds incredible depth to an Italy team aiming for the top of the international tree and Mancini will be quietly relieved that he can call upon the 20-year-old next year. He could make all the difference.
Dean Henderson has 11 caps for England U21s
Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale
Another raging England debate – who will play in goal? Jordan Pickford’s form has been patchy at best this season, with Nick Pope, Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale waiting in the wings for their chance.
Pope and Henderson were included in the last international squad, with the Burnley goalkeeper playing in the final European Qualifier against Kosovo. There’s no doubting his status as the number two choice behind Pickford and has kept the most clean sheets in the Premier League this season (11) – just one ahead of Henderson.
0:47 Goalkeeper Nick Pope was pleased to keep a clean sheet on his first England start in the 4-0 win against Kosovo
Goalkeeper Nick Pope was pleased to keep a clean sheet on his first England start in the 4-0 win against Kosovo
But the Manchester United loanee has been mightily impressive for Sheffield United in his first Premier League season, and some have even argued he should leapfrog both Pickford and Pope to England’s No1 shirt. However, the key is whether Gareth Southgate agrees and let’s not forget, Tom Heaton is making his own way back from injury. Does Henderson have enough to unseat a more experienced player?
As for Ramsdale, he is a real outside shot for making the Euro 2020 squad, whether it was this year or next. He is still only 21 and has become a regular in Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 squad. That looks to be the best place for him for now as he builds up his international experience.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jack Grealish
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been tipped as a Euro 2020 contender
Both players had been rumoured as England Euro 2020 hopefuls, although their inclusion now hangs in the balance.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has started to fulfil his potential under Carlo Ancelotti, scoring eight Premier League goals in 11 games since the Italian’s arrival at Everton. He has built up a superb partnership with Richarlison, and was being touted as an ideal replacement for England’s injury issues up front. But with at least another year added on, he will need to maintain his form to unseat more established internationals.
Some may say Jack Grealish has been overlooked for a while now after switching his international allegiance to England in September 2015. His club team Aston Villa still have the threat of relegation hanging over them during the current suspension and their fate will have a big effect on where Grealish will be playing his club football next season.
Matteo Guendouzi and Kurt Zouma
Kurt Zouma could drop out of the France squad if the likes of Paul Pogba returns
Unfortunately for these two, should the likes of Pogba, Dembele and Laporte return for Euro 2020, they will likely be left out despite being called up in November 2019.
Despite being a regular for Arsenal, Guendouzi is still only 20 years old and is yet to earn his first cap. It is unlikely that he would be chosen over more experienced internationals but is certainly one to carry on the legacy created by the current France team.
Zouma has five caps but these have been spread out over five years. He was initially called up in March 2015, but did not start his first game until June 2019 as his progress stalled at Chelsea. Recently, he has struggled for game time under Frank Lampard and Laporte would give Didier Deschamps a much better option at centre-back should he remain fit.
Kai Havertz has scored one goal in seven caps for Germany
There’s no denying it – Kai Havertz is one talented player. He already has a number of big teams chasing him and has smashed all sorts of Bundesliga records. His first Germany call-up was in August 2018 and he has quickly amassed seven caps, although was not included in the most recent squad in November.
With Sane hoping to make a return in time for the Euros, it could be the 20-year-old that drops out to make way. He has significantly fewer caps that many of Germany’s midfielders and Joachim Loew may opt for experience at Euro 2020 to avoid another humiliating early exit. But much like Guendouzi, he is one for the future.
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