WITH England set to kick off their EURO 2020 campaign against Croatia on Sunday, Adver Sport reporter Jonny Leighfield picks the starting XI he’d like to see at Wembley Stadium.


GOALKEEPER: Jordan Pickford

For a long time this season, I was genuinely worried about who Gareth Southgate would select to play in goal this summer because none of England’s stoppers had an all-around game that you felt comfortable with.

But a highly encouraging final 10 games or so for Pickford meant the fears over his ability to actually save a shot eased somewhat. His footwork and ability to play the ball is world class, so he’s an easy choice to start in between the sticks.

DEFENDERS (from right to left): Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ben White, Luke Shaw

Tripper gets the nod over Reece James for me, although I wouldn’t kick up a fuss if the Chelsea right-back were picked instead. But I’ve gone for Trippier for a few reasons. He’s played an important role for England at a major tournament before, he contributed six assists in 35 games for Athletico Madrid this season, and he has played a lot of right midfield this term so a switch to right wing-back should not be so much of a problem.

Walker makes me nervous, but he also has the ability to be excellent, so you’ve just got to hope he stays switched on. John Stones’ renaissance has been fantastic to watch, so he’s an easy pick – the same being said for Luke Shaw, his season has been top-class.

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For me, the final pick came down to either Ben White or Connor Coady at left centre-back. I don’t trust Tyrone Mings to not make an absolute clanger, therefore he doesn’t make it into consideration.

The reason White makes the starting XI over Coady – even though it would only be his second England appearance – is because he has been almost faultless at Leeds and Brighton over the past two seasons. He’s comfortable on the ball, a no-nonsense defender, and seems to take everything in his stride. It’s a huge risk, especially as White is used to playing right centre-back, but I’d be comfortable to make that call.

MIDFIELDERS: Declan Rice and Mason Mount

Rice has been sensational for West Ham this season, plus he’s young, energetic, and passionate. That’s the way he plays for West Ham and England – he’s a proper throwback of a player. And with England boasting a top-heavy squad with quality forwards, a touch of the defensive side wouldn’t go a miss.

To play alongside Rice, I’ve chosen Frank Lampard 2.0. Mount has developed into Chelsea’s talisman this season and was instrumental in the club’s Champions League success. He’s got every attribute to make him an all-around world class centre-midfielder, so I hope he goes on to show that at this tournament.

FORWARDS: Phil Foden, Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho

The forwards pretty much pick themselves. Foden, Kane, and Sancho need very little justification as their individual seasons have been absolutely incredible. I had Rashford and Grealish as outside shouts, but I think they will have their time in this tournament, for sure.

However, Sancho’s stats alone this season are astounding and convinced me he’s the man to play alongside Foden and Kane. The 21-year-old has created 20 goals and scored 16 himself in just 38 games, while Foden has bagged 10 assists and 16 goals in 50 appearances. Both wingers know the feeling of lifting a trophy too, and hopefully they’ll introduce Kane to that in mid-July.