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Will Marcus Rashford be in the starting line-up when England run out at Wembley on Sunday?
Will Marcus Rashford be in the starting line-up when England run out at Wembley on Sunday?

England's abundance of quality in the final third has left Gareth Southgate with a selection headache ahead of Sunday’s Euro 2020 opener.

The Three Lions are expected to set up in a 3-4-3 formation when they take on Croatia and skipper Harry Kane is nailed on for the central striking berth.

But with two spots up from grabs either side of the Spurs star, who will make it into England’s starting line-up at Wembley?

Jadon Sancho

Jadon Sancho made 26 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund in 2020-21, scoring eight times and providing 11 assists.

That averages out at an impressive 0.83 total contributions (goals and assists) per 90 minutes, reflecting his remarkable creative instincts and ability with the ball at his feet.

His performances often fly under the radar because he is playing his football away from the Premier League, but Sancho, 21, has the dribbling skills and directness to boost England’s counter-attacking credentials.

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford delivered England’s only goal against Romania on Sunday evening — calmly slotting home a penalty to ensure the Three Lions go into Euro 2020 on the back of consecutive warm-up victories.

After a mammoth campaign that saw him feature 57 times for Manchester United, the Red Devils’ frontman has been solid if unspectacular in the months leading up to the tournament.

A record of 11 goals and nine Premier League assists for the season is a respectable return, but Rashford’s greatest value could lie in his ability to beat opposition defenders. 

He completed 5.01 successful take-ons per 90 last season, which was only bettered by five players in England’s top flight.

Phil Foden

Phil Foden is among the best finishers in the England squad
Phil Foden is among the best finishers in the England squad

The ‘Stockport Iniesta’, has finally come of age and played a pivotal role in Manchester City’s Premier League triumph.

A worthy winner of the PFA Young Player of the Year award, Phil Foden’s stupendous close-range ball control and dribbling makes him a constant threat.

The 21-year-old is also prolific in front of goal — netting 0.5 times per 90, which is inside the division’s top 20 players.

That finishing ability should alleviate some of the goalscoring burden off Kane’s shoulders when Euro 2020 gets under way.

Raheem Sterling

There’s no hiding the fact that Raheem Sterling’s form was inconsistent for City last season.

The 61-cap international only made two fewer league appearances than in 2019-20, but ended up scoring half the number of goals (10).

However, it would be foolish to underestimate the value of Sterling’s creative instincts, considering his 0.25 assists from open play in 2020-21 was still only just outside the Premier League’s top 10 players.

With the forward’s 4.33 attempted take-ons per 90 representing a similarly impressive record, he still has the raw attributes capable of driving England’s front line this summer.

Jack Grealish

Jack Grealish has played his way into contention for a starting spot after two excellent displays against Austria and Romania
Jack Grealish has played his way into contention for a starting spot after two excellent displays against Austria and Romania

Aston Villa’s playmaker extraordinaire was the standout performer in both England’s friendlies against Austria and Romania.

Jack Grealish's movement dazzled defenders and drew players out of position, while his ability to run in behind caused their opponents significant problems at the Riverside Stadium.

Grealish won a penalty against Romania and was fouled more than any other Premier League player last season (4.53 per 90 minutes) — that could be vital to the Three Lions’ chances with the dead-ball ability in England’s squad.

Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka’s goal against Austria last week will have boosted the 19-year-old’s confidence on the international stage, but he is not expected to be in contention for a start in England’s opening tie.

The Arsenal teenager is far more likely to make an impression off the bench this summer, where his dynamism and crossing ability could have a devastating impact against tired defences.

He attempted 5.2 crosses per 90 last season, which was inside the Premier League’s top 25 players — Kane and Dominic Calvert-Lewin would thrive off a similar return at the European Championship.

The winning formula

Though Grealish and Foden both typically operate on the left for their respective clubs, the Manchester City starlet is often given a free-roaming role in which he switches to the right side during games.

A combination of Grealish in his normal left flank position, Kane in the middle and Foden on the right side — cutting inside or driving towards the goal line — could be deadly this summer.

The flankers’ creativity and attacking zeal outweighs that of any of their teammates and a front line of Grealish, Kane and Foden has the potential to cause Croatia serious problems on Sunday.

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