Great news for Jude Bellingham, Mason Greenwood and Trent Alexander-Arnold… but bad news for England: Euro 2020 squads get the green light to expand to 26 from 23, allowing Gareth Southgate some wildcard picks – but he didn’t want them!

England manager Gareth Southgate will be afforded more options for his forthcoming Euro 2020 squad with news that squads for the tournament are set to be expanded from 23 to 26.

According to the Times, UEFA’s national teams committee have permitted the increase due to the demands of the coronavirus pandemic on players.

The committee met on Monday and their decision needs to be confirmed by a UEFA executive committee before it’s formally announced.

England and other Euro 2020 sides are set to be allowed a larger squad size for the tournament

This means there’s a greater chance for rising star Jude Bellingham to be chosen for the Euros 

Trent Alexander-Arnold (left) and Mason Greenwood will feel their chances have improved too

The decision will give Southgate greater leeway over some tough decisions – especially considering his array of choices in attack.

The likes of Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham could now be selected in the squad, while Liverpool right back Trent Alexander-Arnold, Manchester United’s Mason Greenwood and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka will feel their chances have improved for selection. 

While that is a welcome problem, it does go against his and the FA’s initial wish for the Euros squad to remain at 23.

As revealed by Sportsmail earlier this month, the FA were working with their German counterparts to block proposals for larger squads at this summer’s Euros.

Southgate believes 23 players is more than enough for a tournament at which teams will play a maximum of seven matches.

The 50-year-old also has concerns that a bigger squad could be harder to manage due to the inevitable frustrations felt by those who do not feature, and is eager to avoid dragging fringe players away from their families during the summer.

England played seven matches at the 2018 World Cup, including a dead-rubber group game against Belgium and the third-place play-off against the same opponents, yet Southgate still did not give any game-time to reserve keepers Nick Pope and Jack Butland. Danny Welbeck, Gary Cahill and Trent Alexander-Arnold made one appearance each.

In England’s disastrous Euro 2016 campaign, which ended with a humiliating last-16 defeat by Iceland, John Stones, James Milner, Ross Barkley and reserve goalkeepers Tom Heaton and Fraser Forster were also unused by Roy Hodgson, and Jordan Henderson, Ryan Bertrand and Nathaniel Clyne only made a single appearance each. 

England manager Gareth Southgate (left) is against the idea for a squad increase at Euro 2020

Southgate didn’t use his full squad when England reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2018

England and Germany’s protestations differ to their Belgium, Holland and Italy counterparts though who are firmly for the increased squads.

Holland coach Frank de Boer and Italy boss Roberto Mancini have injury concerns over key players Virgil van Dijk and Giorgio Chiellini respectively, and bigger squads would enable them to take more risks with selection.

Meanwhile, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez said last month: ‘I think it’s something that’s needed. It would match the changes that have been made in the current situation in world football, with the five substitutions, the uncertainty of the pandemic attack and the extra level of injuries, I think it would be a good thing to do.’

The expected change will be the latest tweak to the tournament with it already confirmed that teams will be permitted to make five substitutions instead of three per match during the Euros. 

Holland boss Frank de Boer believes the increase in numbers will be help manage injuries

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