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England may have already 'leaked' starting XI for Euro 2024 opener vs Serbia

England may have inadvertently revealed their starting eleven for their opening match of Euro 2024. The Three Lions have confirmed their squad numbers for the tournament in the aftermath of last night’s shock 1-0 defeat to Iceland at Wembley.

Gareth Southgate takes a 26-man squad to Germany minus several big names such as Harry Maguire, James Maddison and Jack Grealish. Curtis Jones, Jarell Quansah, James Trafford and Jarrad Branthwaite were also cut from the initial 33-man group named last month.

England start their campaign against Serbia a week tomorrow (Sunday 16 June) at Schalke’s Veltins Arena in Gelsenkirchen.

And the team who will be picked for that match appears set after England revealed which shirt numbers their 26 travelling players will be taking.

Unsurprisingly, Jordan Pickford is No 1. The Everton goalkeeper is expected to start every match having been Southgate’s mainstay shot-stopper for the last six years.

Full-backs Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw are No 2 and No 3 respectively. But Southgate has already confirmed the Manchester United left-back will miss the Serbia match through injury.

That means Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier, who takes the 12 shirt, is expected to start at left-back as he did against Iceland. The two centre-backs last night – John Stones and Marc Guehi – are No 5 and No 6.

The No 4 is Arsenal’s Declan Rice who is guaranteed to start every match for England in the absence of another natural holding midfielder. Kalvin Phillips is not a part of the group this time around.

And the No 7 is also assured of a starting spot. That’s Rice’s team-mate Bukayo Saka who comes into the Euros off the back of a career-best 20-goal, 14-assist season for the Gunners.

The No 8 is then Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Liverpool creative dynamo is expected to be deployed as a central midfielder alongside Rice even though he starts as a right-back who drifts into midfield in possession at club level.

The number nine is of course captain Harry Kane, the country’s all-time top goalscorer and attacking talisman. And with Saka to his right, Phil Foden – the No 11 – will be to his left.

The Manchester City man, recently crowned Premier League Player of the Season for helping City to a fourth successive title, has swapped shirts with Saka. He too is near guaranteed to start after a brilliant club season saw him notch 27 goals and 12 assists.

In behind Kane is then the No 10 – Jude Bellingham. Fresh from winning the Champions League with Real Madrid at Wembley, the 20-year-old was another to light it up this year with 23 goals and 13 assists for the La Liga champions.

Judging from shirt numbers and also recent team selections, Southgate’s preferred starting XI looks to be: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Guehi, Shaw; Rice, Alexander-Arnold; Saka, Bellingham, Foden; Kane.

And therefore the only change vs Serbia would be the unfit Shaw dropping out for Trippier. Meanwhile up to 15 players can be named on the bench.

That means minus Shaw, all of Dean Henderson, Aaron Ramsdale, Lewis Dunk, Joe Gomez, Ezri Konsa, Robbie Main, Conor Gallagher, Adam Wharton, Jarrod Bowen, Eberechi Eze, Anthony Gordon, Cole Palmer, Ivan Toney and Ollie Watkins should be sat behind Southgate for the first game.

After taking on the Serbians, England’s next group stage match is against Denmark (Thursday 20 June) at the Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt.

Their last Group C match sees them face Slovenia five days later (Tuesday 25 June) at Cologne’s RheinEnergieStadion, which is home of 1. FC Koln.

Possible England XI vs Serbia: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Guehi, Trippier; Rice, Alexander-Arnold; Saka, Bellingham, Foden; Kane.


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