England’s New Leadership Team: The Four Stars Tasked with Leading Gareth Southgate’s Squad

England’s New Leadership Team: The Four Stars Tasked with Leading Gareth Southgate’s Squad

England captain Harry Kane has been joined by Kyle Walker, Declan Rice and Kieran Trippier in Gareth Southgate’s new-look unofficial leadership group.

Head coach Southgate, who is understood to have expressed his anger at players immediately after Friday’s loss to Iceland, appointed a leadership committee upon his appointment in 2016.

Former vice-captain Jordan Henderson, Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling were all part of the senior collective, but the trio were all left out of the squad for Euro 2024.

Instead of electing a formal leadership committee for the European Championships, Southgate has called on his squad to share responsibility.

But it is understood, in the event of Kane being injured or rested, Southgate will pick from Walker, Trippier or Rice to wear the armband here in Germany in the absence of Henderson, Maguire and Sterling – and also Marcus Rashford – in a clear indication that the quartet make up the band of players Southgate is relying on to lead his young squad.

Gareth Southgate (centre) and Harry Kane (right) will front a new England leadership group

Seasoned veterans like Jordan Henderson (left) and Raheem Sterling (right) have been axed

Seasoned veterans like Jordan Henderson (left) and Raheem Sterling (right) have been axed

Rice’s emergence as one of the squad’s stalwarts was highlighted by Mail Sport on Monday with sources indicating Southgate has gravitated increasingly to the Arsenal star ahead of the tournament.

But the question is: can others follow in Rice’s lead?

Indeed, it will be interesting to see how England cope at a major tournament without the core of a squad that led the national team’s sharp improvements under Southgate.

The lack of experience and, perhaps most worryingly, goals, in Southgate’s 26-man party is glaring.

Eleven of the players selected are in single digits for caps won. Twelve of them have not experienced tournament football.

Kane and 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.

England were billed as favourites for this tournament but somehow the team is entering Euro 20204 with various unknown elements.

The talent is unquestioned. But the temperament? We’re about to find out.

The team Southgate had built was within touching distance of greatness.

Bukayo Saka is the player with the second-highest number of international goals in the squad

Bukayo Saka is the player with the second-highest number of international goals in the squad

England fans only have to wait a handful of days before their first look at Southgate's 2.0 side

England fans only have to wait a handful of days before their first look at Southgate’s 2.0 side

There are no guarantees Southgate’s England 2.0 will finish the job here in Germany.

The narrative that this tournament can provide the perfect platform for the team to grow ahead of World 2026 has credence.

They’ll be stronger, succeed or fail, for their experience here. Yet will all that said, surely the time is now for England and Southgate?

In the absence of Henderson and Co, Southgate – more than ever – will rely on his seasoned stars.

While the squad are short on caps, there is enough big match experience in what is likely to be Southgate’s starting XI to ease the burden on the younger players.

Former England technical director Dan Ashworth placed huge value in selecting players who were used to high pressure club matches, particularly deep into the Champions League knockout rounds.

Despite the youthful complexion of the squad, there remains enough top-level experience to offer this England side stability.

Apart from Jordan Pickford and Marc Guehi – the team expected to play against Serbia all, to varying degrees, have a Champions League background.

Beneath the surface, though, there is uncertainty. Kane, Henderson and Maguire, in particular, formed such a formidable triumvirate, policing the dressing room so Southgate didn’t have to.

Jude Bellingham (centre) is one of a number of young players with hefty European experience

Jude Bellingham (centre) is one of a number of young players with hefty European experience

Defeat to Iceland in England's last warm-up game before jetting to Germany left the camp with an sticky atmosphere

Defeat to Iceland in England’s last warm-up game before jetting to Germany left the camp with an sticky atmosphere

No-one can be entirely sure how this group will react to the rigours of tournament football.

There has been an emphasis on nurturing positive vibes this week – a far cry from the atmosphere in the aftermath of the loss to Iceland.

Southgate made his disapproval of the performance crystal clear to his players after the game, with the England boss particularly irked at his team’s effort off the ball.

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Most of all there was an acknowledgement from inside the England dressing room that they had piled on unnecessary pressure on themselves heading into Sunday’s opener against Serbia.

Of course, win in Gelsenkirchen this weekend and that self-applied tension will dissipate.

Indeed, on Tuesday, during the team’s first full day in Germany there were clear signs that the team were overcoming their disappointment.

The players were completing their green screen duties for broadcasters on Tuesday morning – a procedure that always provides a jovial atmosphere.

Tuesday’s open training session at the Jena Stadium was also the first time the team have trained together as a full contingent of 26, a development that suggests the physical problems that have dogged England’s preparations are gradually subsiding.

The fact hundreds of school kids were in the stands added a relaxed flavour to the session before the real work begins behind closed doors at their Weimar base on Wednesday.

Kane, Trippier, Rice and Walker will lead from the front. Who will follow?

But spirits have been raised as England settle into their base - before the real work starts

But spirits have been raised as England settle into their base – before the real work starts

The mood at Tuesday's open practice in front of hundreds of children was markedly relaxed

The mood at Tuesday’s open practice in front of hundreds of children was markedly relaxed 

Meanwhile, England players will turn a blind eye to their social media accounts during Euro 2024 to avoid distractions during the tournament amid the ongoing issue of online abuse directed at footballers.

The Football Association have not provided the squad with official guidance over how to approach their social accounts during whilst in Germany, but some players have already chosen to leave their pages inactive during the Euros.

Southgate has empowered his players to make their own choices and will stand in his team’s way if they want to engage on socials.

It emerged that England players were sent 1,546 abusive tweets during the group stages of World Cup.

Kane and Rice are among the players who have taken themselves off social media during tournaments.

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