England’s Leadership Group: Kyle Walker and Declan Rice join Gareth Southgate in guiding team during Euro 2024

England’s Leadership Group: Kyle Walker and Declan Rice join Gareth Southgate in guiding team during Euro 2024

Gareth Southgate has revealed that Jude Bellingham has been added to a four-man England leadership group. 

The Three Lions boss introduced the leadership contingent upon his appointment in 2016. Former vice-captain Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling were all part of the group, but the trio have all been left out of the squad for Euro 2024.

Speaking last week, Southgate called on his young squad to take on leadership responsibilities in the absence of Henderson, Maguire and Sterling – and Marcus Rashford, who was also left out.

It had been reported that skipper Harry Kane had been joined by vice captain Kyle Walker, Declan Rice and Kieran Trippier in the unofficial leadership group heading into England’s Euro 2024 opener on Sunday. 

But ahead of the clash in Gelsenkirchen, Southgate revealed that Bellingham had become a member of the new-look committee, in another example of the 20-year-old Real Madrid star’s incredible rise and importance to the squad. 

Jude Bellingham has been added to a four-man England leadership group by Gareth Southgate

The committee, led by skipper Harry Kane (right), replaces that which included the likes of Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling - who have not been selected

The committee, led by skipper Harry Kane (right), replaces that which included the likes of Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling – who have not been selected

 ‘We have a very open relationship with all of the players,’ Southgate said on Saturday. ‘We’ve actually put a small leadership group together for this tournament now with Harry, Kyle Walker, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham. 

‘There is a different dynamic to this group, there are a lot of younger players. It’s always important to know what the players are thinking. They have good views, good experiences.

‘I want the opinions of the four boys but also they are involved with different age groups in the squad so they will be able to pick up what is going on with the different age groups of the squad. 

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‘We’ve got 26, it’s not easy to keep track of how everybody is every day. You want to open up that dialogue. Sometimes with young players, they’re normally going to be a little bit more reluctant to approach the manager and talk about what they are thinking so you want a sense of what’s going on on the ground.’

Bellingham comes into the tournament off the back of a stunning debut season in the Spanish capital that saw him lift both the La Liga title and the Champions League at Wembley. 

His shoulders will bare a great deal of the weight of expectation, alongside the likes of Harry Kane, Phil Foden and Rice. Despite England’s obvious quality, there is a noticeable lack of experience and, perhaps most worryingly goals, in Southgate’s 26-man party.

Eleven of the players selected are in single digits for caps won. Twelve of them have not experienced tournament football. Kane and Bukayo Saka are the only two players to have entered double figures for goals. Even then, Saka’s 11 to Kane’s 64 is some drop.

Southgate claimed that the squad’s ‘younger dynamic’ should not preclude its members from taking on ‘more responsibility’ as he remarked on Rice’s position in the group. 

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker (left) is the newly appointed vice-captain, while Declan Rice (right) is also part of the leadership contingent

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker (left) is the newly appointed vice-captain, while Declan Rice (right) is also part of the leadership contingent

Bellingham is coming off the back of a stunning debut campaign in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid

Bellingham is coming off the back of a stunning debut campaign in the Spanish capital with Real Madrid

‘Those two boys [Bellingham and Rice], they’re leaders,’ He added. ‘The squad has taken on a younger dynamic and it’s important that they embrace more responsibility in those areas. 

‘It shouldn’t just be for the older players to lead. A lot of our younger players have a lot of caps and a lot of big match experience. I could have put more into the group but I think four is enough and we’ll meet regularly and feed back on everything.’

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