How Euro 2021 is now a blessing in disguise for England

Three Lions roar towards Euro 2021

England were heading into Euro 2020 as the tournament's favourites, something that has not happened in what feels like forever. Now, with the postponement to Euro 2021, England remain the favourites and may even go into the continental meeting next summer even stronger than now.

As Euro 2020 got closer, the worries of captain Harry Kane being fit in time grew stronger, whilst the same was the case for the in-form Marcus Rashford. Kane has established himself as arguably the best around in his position in recent times, just as Rashford began to show Europe how good he can be with 19 goals this season for Manchester United.

Then we have the likes of Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden who have quickly become two of the best young stars on the continent this past year. Greenwood has burst onto the scene with the Red Devils, whilst Foden remains one of Pep Guardiola's brightest ever projects.

Let's look ahead to see how Euro 2021 looks like pure magic for England and Gareth Southgate.

The Hope Of An Injury-Free Squad Next Year

There was a fair amount of optimism when England cruised through their qualifying group, winning seven of their eight games, in which they scored 37 goals. However, since then, injuries have hit some of the country’s top stars, with the main one heading towards Euro 2020 being that of captain and World Cup top goalscorer Harry Kane.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker has been sidelined since January due to a hamstring problem caused in a Premier League clash against Southampton. As a result, there were serious doubts that the talisman could make it back in time for the summer's action

Spurs boss, Jose Mourinho, stated that he expected the 26-year-old to be back around May, possibly appearing in Premier League clashes against Newcastle and/or Leicester City. Now, with all club football suspended, Kane has time to gradually return back to full fitness and avoid rushing back to action to finish off the season.

The England captain will now be able to recover completely from his injuries before gaining match sharpness steadily, rather than being hurried back and thrown in to fill the void up front for Spurs.

Kane has also struggled with some ankle and ligament problems, so the time off will allow him to work on ironing out any lingering problems before hopefully leading the line for Gareth Southgate’s men in 2021.

Furthermore, as a result of the postponement, Kane has overtaken Romelu Lukaku, Cristiano Ronaldo and France’s Kylian Mbappe as the frontrunner for the Euro 2021 Golden Boot award at 5/1. These odds are certainly worth a go considering England’s marksman, will most likely now feature Croatia, Czech Republic and either Serbia, Norway, Israel or Scotland.

Just like his fellow attacker, concerns were raised by the injury to Marcus Rashford. Like Kane, Rashford hasn’t played for his club since January. The Manchester United star was enjoying the best season of his career to date for the Red Devils, hitting 19 goals and five assists in the 31 appearances under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s.

The 22-year old suffered a double stress fracture in the FA Cup replay against Wolverhampton Wanderers and hasn’t featured since, whilst United have gone from strength to strength. The club initially feared Rashford could miss the rest of the season, but scan results revealed it may not be as serious as first thought.

Solskjaer hadn’t put a time frame on Rashford’s return, but like with Kane, rushing him back could have been a huge risk. The Norwegian already noted how his star forward had played through the pain barrier multiple times during the season, and that could have continued if he was brought back before he needed to be. Now with the season postponed, Rashford can continue to get stronger before the Euros kick off in the summer of next year.

He’s a decent price of 6/1 to finish as England’s top scorer in the competition, behind Kane and Raheem Sterling.

The superstars have time reignite

Going into a major international tournament, you need your best players to be on top form. That hasn’t been the case for some of England’s top talent recently. Raheem Sterling is one of the first names on the teamsheet for Southgate, but he hasn’t quite hit his best form this season.

There was a lot of pressure on the Manchester City winger going into the 2018 World Cup - perhaps too much - as he failed to show the remarkable form he’d displayed for Pep Guardiola’s side.

A terrific season followed with the winger scoring 17 Premier League goals and bagging 12 league assists, as City recorded another mesmerising title-winning campaign. However, despite a decent start, the 25-year old hasn’t hit those heights this season, failing to score a goal for the Citizens since the end of December.

The break before next summer allows Sterling to find some form and gain momentum before heading into the Euro 2021 with England. If he can find the scintillating form he’s capable of, there’s a bigger chance of him being at his best with England and taking the Three Lions closer to the trophy.

Jordan Pickford is another player who has featured heavily for Southgate’s England and is another man who has not been able to translate his incredible World Cup campaign into stellar form with his club. England’s last major tournament seemed to have enhanced the reputation of the Everton goalkeeper, making his expectation to perform higher than ever.

This season has been a disappointing season for the Toffees’ star, however, with plenty of high-profile mistakes and errors leading to goals being the story of the season so far for the man between the Goodison Park sticks. The delay of the Euro's could help the 26-year-old stopper concentrate on his game and get back to the form that saw him become noticed as England’s first choice.

Pickford has come under heavy scrutiny in recent months, with Sheffield United’s on-loan goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Burnley’s Nick Pope being backed to replace Pickford as England’s number one. The pause and current postponement of all footballing competitions could calm the waters for the somewhat erratic goalkeeper, Pickford.

The Young Lions Blossoming Already

With Euro 2020 coming a year later, it also gives another season for the exciting young English talent to develop further into their potential. Many have heaped praise upon the talented youngsters that England possess, and the extra year allows for some of them to make a name and bag themselves a spot on the plane for the Euros.

A prime example of this is Mason Greenwood. The Manchester United attacker has scored 12 goals for United’s first-team this season in what is his breakthrough campaign. The 18-year-old has shown why he is regarded as one the best talents in the country with his superb technical abilities that many have likened to the Red Devils' former hero Robin Van Persie. Whilst still finding the net on multiple occasions, the attacker hasn’t quite become a first-team regular for Solskjaer’s men, usually coming on from the bench or playing in cup matches, however.

The year long gap could allow him to establish himself as a regular and develop further, claiming a stake to be in the starting XI for Southgate’s Euro campaign. Greenwood is 16/1 to be England’s top scorer of that tournament, which could be a decent price if he progresses even more before next summer.

It isn’t just teenagers looking to breakthrough that could benefit from the delay to the Euro 2020. Chelsea’s Mason Mount has been a key player for Frank Lampard’s youthful team this season. The central midfielder has played 29 times in the Premier League this season and impressed many fans.

The 21-year old has only managed six goals and five assists in that time, so an extra year for him to develop can only make him better, with him improving on these numbers. The delay also gives the opportunity for the likes of Tammy Abraham, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Jadon Sancho to enhance on their already impressive form and become even better players in time for the Euros in 2021.

Then there is Phil Foden, who is perhaps set to finally step into the shoes of David Silva at City, as the Spaniard departs the club at the end of this season. Guardiola has heaped nothing but praise on the 19-year-old, claiming he is one of the best youngsters he has ever worked with.

Already a World Cup winner at U17 level, Foden looks set to become a star for the future for club and country. And now, with Silva off, perhaps it's time for this glamourous story to continue - next year may well be his.

By Jordan Edmonds

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