Alan Shearer reveals how England can include in-form star in Euro 2024 starting XI | Football

Gareth Southgate has a number of tactical options to consider (Picture: Getty)

Alan Shearer has revealed how he would squeeze Ollie Watkins into England’s starting XI for Euro 2024 this summer – and it involves a change of position for Harry Kane.

The England captain is guaranteed a starting role for the Three Lions at the European Championships, which gets underway in Germany on June 14, with Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden all but assured to take their place in Gareth Southgate’s front six.

That just leaves one starting spot up for grabs, with Watkins competing with the likes of Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford for the final spot in England’s attack.

Only Erling Haaland has scored more than Watkins’ 16 Premier League goals this season, whilst the Aston Villa man tops the charts for goal contributions with 26.

Watkins’ incredible goalscoring form for Unai Emery’s side has seen him become a genuine contender for a starting berth in England’s line-up, but given the embarrassment of riches available to Southgate in the squad, it is not immediately clear how the 28 year-old would slot into the team.

Ollie Watkins playing for England

Watkins is pushing for a start at Euro 2024 (Picture: Getty)

Shearer, however, believes Southgate can accommodate Watkins by moving Kane deeper.

‘We know that Gareth is most likely to go for the stability provided by an extra midfielder, just like he did with Kalvin Phillips at Euro 2020 or Jordan Henderson at the Qatar World Cup,’ the England legend said in The Athletic.

‘I don’t think England need that extra layer of protection but clearly, Gareth does.’

‘But there is another viable option, one that I would like to throw into the mix. I don’t expect Gareth to go for this approach but there are circumstances when it would be exactly what England needed.

‘Play Watkins in the No 9 role. Kane can drop back into the No 10 space, which we all know is a natural part of his game and one where he has been so key in creating for England, Tottenham and Bayern Munich.

‘Bellingham would take up a deeper midfield position alongside Rice. Foden and Saka still cut in from out wide.’

Harry Kane and Ollie Watkins in England training

Kane and Watkins could form a deadly double act for England this summer (Picture: Getty)

Shearer has identified Watkins’ ability to run in-behind the defence as a particular potent weapon in his arsenal, given he believes England’s group games against Serbia, Denmark and Slovenia could be tight affairs.

‘I always say that the one thing defenders hate doing is running back towards their own goal. That is exactly what Watkins makes you do because he is constantly running in behind them, a nightmare for them to play against,’ Shearer added.

‘With Watkins’ constant running in behind, Kane could drop into that No 10 role, get the ball, turn and play balls over the top for Watkins to run onto.’

Watkins has scored three goals in his nine caps for England since making his debut in 2021.

Partnering Watkins together with Kane would be a first for Southgate, with the two stars having never shared the pitch together for England.


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