This month, England plays its first matches since being defeated by France in the World Cup quarterfinals as they open their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.
On March 23, Gareth Southgate’s team plays in Italy. Three days later, they host Ukraine.
On Thursday, the manager selects his team and has some tough choices to make.
The England manager will need to address a few selection-related questions, and BBC Sport has examined whether any shocks are likely.
On December 10 in Qatar, England fell to France 2-1. Southgate, who led the Three Lions to the 2018 World Cup semifinals and the Euro 2020 championship game, admitted he was “conflicted” about continuing to lead the team.
However, Southgate, 52, then declared that he will stay until the conclusion of Euro 2024, which would be held in Germany the following summer.
Prior to the Nations League in September, England’s toughest test will come in Naples against top-seeded Italy, who defeated Southgate’s team in the Euro 2020 final.
Southgate might use his tried-and-true players with more freedom to experiment in the June doubleheader against Malta away and home against North Macedonia because Ukraine will then be playing at Wembley on March 26.
Yet, some players will be anticipating the squad announcement with great interest.
Brentford manager supports Toney for a call-up
Ivan Toney, an uncapped Brentford striker, is the second-highest English Premier League goal scorer this season with 16, five fewer than Harry Kane of Tottenham, who has 20, and one more than Marcus Rashford of Manchester United, who has 14.
The 26-year-old Toney was called up for the Nations League matches against Germany and Italy in September but did not play in either game.
Even though he has agreed to some of the 262 counts brought against him for violating Football Association gambling laws, he is still eligible for selection while the matter is still pending.
If you look at the performances, I don’t think you can go past him, but I know there are different sorts and it depends on what kind of strikers he [Southgate] wants. Toney’s club manager Thomas Frank agreed that Toney deserved to play for England.
“But Ivan has demonstrated that he is the number two behind Harry [Kane] on goals and assists – two really excellent stats to be high on – and performances.”
Jadon Sancho, a winger for Manchester United, is another candidate hoping to be picked after being left off the World Cup roster.
Callum Wilson of Newcastle, who did travel to Qatar, has scored just one goal in 13 games overall since returning, and Raheem Sterling of Chelsea missed his team’s 3-1 victory over Leicester on Saturday due to a hamstring injury.
Will Southgate continue to trust Maguire?
Harry Maguire, the captain of Manchester United, was frequently asked whether Southgate would include him before the World Cup, and the topic is still relevant given that the center-back is having trouble getting into Premier League games.
The 30-year-old Maguire has played a significant role in England’s starting lineup at the last two international competitions, but he has only started five league games this year.
Reece James and Ben Chilwell of Chelsea will be back after missing the World Cup due to injury, which will be encouraging for Southgate.
Three-time England international Fikayo Tomori has been a regular for AC Milan this year and stood out last week as the Italian team eliminated Tottenham from the Champions League.
Seagulls captain Lewis Dunk, according to Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi, deserves attention on a global scale. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Manchester City full-back Rico Lewis has made a strong case for a spot in Pep Guardiola’s starting lineup this year.
The oldest players in England’s World Cup roster are central midfielder Jordan Henderson of Liverpool, fullback Kieran Trippier of Newcastle, and defender Kyle Walker of Manchester City. However, it would be a great surprise if any of them were left out by Southgate.
Midfielder Kalvin Phillips of Manchester City left for Qatar but is still not getting enough playing time for his team, while Mason Mount and Conor Gallagher of Chelsea have had trouble getting regular starts under boss Graham Potter.
James Ward-Prowse of Southampton was left out of the World Cup but has since scored six goals for a struggling Saints team that is currently last in the Premier League.
Solly March of Brighton is another player whose team manager expects to see more of in England, and 19-year-old Harvey Elliott has played in each of Liverpool’s Premier League games this year.
For Arsenal midfielder Emile Smith Rowe, who has three caps but has just recently made a comeback from a two-month absence due to a groin injury, the matches against Italy and Ukraine might come too soon.