With the Premier League about to be pushed aside by the European Championships, we put our old mate Peter Crouch on the spot to name his England team.
As speculation mounts about just how Gareth Southgate can combine the multitude of exciting, young talent to get the most out of up-and-coming star Jesse Lingard, or whether the England gaffer can find a reason to keep Eric Dier in the team, we asked the ex-England striker to set out his starting XI to end the however-many-years-of-hurt, and he wasn’t afraid to make a few big calls…
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‘If I was choosing a team to win the competition, I’d be looking at Pickford in goal – I know there’s been some doubts about him but he’s never let England down so deserves to play here.
‘At the back, Stones and Maguire have put some tough times behind them and look like the best pairing for England, and I’d go for Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back.
‘I know he’s had a difficult season, and where Gareth likes Reece James, but I think you’ve got to play Trent because he’s such a talent and looks to have found form at the right time.
‘At left-back, if it were the final I’d start Luke Shaw, who has had a great season at United, but I was at the Arsenal game the other day and I think Bacary Saka’s got to be part of the squad. Against teams where you’re not expecting to defend as much, I’d start him instead.
‘Shaw will probably get the nod from the manager, but against teams where you want to push up and take the game to, Saka could be useful.
‘In midfield, I’d start Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson. Declan’s the best. I was talking to Mark Noble at West Ham recently and he’s just blown away by how good he is, while Jordan is a great leader on the pitch for the team.
‘I love Jude Bellingham as a player, but at 17-years-old, I think he’ll get another opportunity.
‘Mason Mount has to be in there – he’d be my first name on the teamsheet he’s been so good and scoring goals at the highest level.
‘If Jack Grealish was fit I’d have a real headache as I’d have to squeeze him in there, somehow, but injury has made it hard for him to get in.
‘And I never thought I’d see Raheem Sterling being on the bench, but what Phil Foden’s done this year has nipped him in ahead of his City teammate. Rashford has to start for me, and then Harry Kane up front.
‘If you’re going to anything at a tournament you need that ice-cold finisher. He’s the man for that.’
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