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27th Apr 2021

Gareth Southgate can now pick 26-man Euros squad instead of 23

Charlie Herbert

UEFA’s national teams committee have recommended the expansion for this summer

England manager Gareth Southgate will be able to pick an expanded squad of 26 players for the European Championships this summer. It’s after UEFA’s national teams committee recommended the expansion due to pressures on players caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Southgate will now have more options available to him when it comes to picking the squad for the Euros which get underway on 11 June. The news will give hope to a number of players who have previously sat on the fringes of the England team and may have thought they would miss out this summer.

The news will give extra hope to the likes of 17-year old Jude Bellingham, who lacks experience at international level, and Jack Grealish who has been out injured since February.

It has also raised the prospect of a wildcard pick from Southgate, such as Arsenal youngster Emile Smith-Rowe or Leeds striker Patrick Bamford.

All teams at the tournament will now be able to pick 26-man squads for the Euros in a move designed to help player welfare and allow for more flexibility should teams be affected by a Covid outbreak.

The recommendation from the committee still needs to be rubber-stamped by UEFA’s executive committee but this is expected to be a formality.

Both Belgium manager Roberto Martinez and Italy head coach Roberto Mancini had pushed hard for the squad expansion, but the Times reports that Southgate had been in favour of sticking to 23-man squads. However he is thought to be relaxed about the change.

This is the latest move designed to aid player welfare after UEFA previously confirmed that teams will be able to make five substitutions per match as oppose to the standard three.

Last month Martinez said he was in favour of larger squads, saying that with “the uncertainty of the pandemic attack and the extra level of injuries, I think it would be a good thing to do.”

Mancini in particular had voiced concern about the impact that any Covid outbreak in a squad would have. In March, he said: “You never know what will happen. What if someone tests positive for Covid?”