As the Premier League season prepares to reach its conclusion this weekend, the focus in England will immediately switch to EURO 2016, as the nation hopes that the current crop of stars can put on a stellar performance at the tournament in France this June.
Whilst expectancy levels seem to be unusually low, compared to tournaments of years gone by, England supporters are rather optimistic about the future of the national team, with many fans claiming that this current core group of players is the most exciting squad the country has had at its disposal for more than a decade.
Notable victories over France and Germany during the last twelve months, and the emergence of the likes of Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, and Harry Kane, have been the catalyst for such optimism, but the real test of England’s credentials will be when the Three Lions take to the pitch at the Stade Velodrome, in Marseille to face Russia on June 11.
Ahead of Roy Hodgson’s squad announcement on Thursday, we have decided to select our 23-man squad for the tournament.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton) Tom Heaton (Burnley).
There is no doubt that Joe Hart will start at the tournament, though Stoke’s Jack Butland would have certainly been pushing the 29-year-old all the way for a starting place, if he was fit.
The only real decision that needed to be made was selecting the third choice keeper, and Burnley’s Tom Heaton gets the nod ahead of Ben Foster, after a hugely impressive season with Championship winners Burnley.
Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) Kyle Walker (Tottenham) John Stones (Everton) Chris Smalling (Manchester United) Gary Cahill (Chelsea) Danny Rose (Tottenham) Ryan Bertrand (Southampton).
There are two controversial choices in defence, where Everton duo Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines have both been omitted from the squad.
The decision to leave out the Toffees skipper was based on freeing up another spot in midfield, whilst Spurs enforcer Eric Dier could do an efficient job at centre back if needed.
Danny Rose has this season established himself as the best left back in England, and has to start, whilst Saints full-back Ryan Bertrand has the qualities to stand-in if needed, and gets the nod ahead of Baines.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick (Manchester United) Eric Dier (Tottenham) James Milner (Liverpool) Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) Ross Barkley (Everton) Dele Alli (Tottenham) Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) Adam Lallana (Liverpool) Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).
The decision to omit Phil Jagielka was to allow a space in the squad for Jack Wilshere, who even though may not be fit enough to start, would be an excellent player to bring off the bench, if England need someone to provide a creative spark. Having said that the Arsenal maestro would probably have not been selected if club teammate Danny Welbeck had not got injured.
Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham) Jamie Vardy (Leicester) Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) Wayne Rooney (Manchester United).
Although Jermaine Defoe and Andy Carroll can count themselves unlucky to miss out, this front four really picks itself, although choosing who starts at the tournament is a completely different question altogether. It looks as though it will be Harry Kane who will get the nod, but anyone of these four players are good enough to start in France.