Gareth Southgate backs major rule change for Euro 2024 after England crisis | Football

Southgate has thrown his support behind the calls (Picture: Getty)

Gareth Southgate has hinted he is keen to see the squad cap for this summer’s Euro 2024 increased to 26 players.

The England manager’s plans for the friendly fixtures against Brazil and Belgium were thrown into chaos with a number of key players either unavailable or withdrawn due to injury.

UEFA had increased the squad cap from the traditional 23 to 26 for Euro 2020 in an attempt to deal with the effects of the pandemic, an approach which was subsequently adopted by FIFA for the 2022 World Cup.

UEFA had planned to revert back to the 23-man cap for Euro 2024, but there is a growing sense in the game that the physical demands placed on players now warrants a reversion back to the 26 cap.

Southgate has revealed that the squad cap issue will be debated at a UEFA coaches meeting in April, with the governing body having confirmed since that the topic will indeed be discussed at the summit in Germany.

‘There is one more UEFA ­meeting where there’s been a little bit of talk amongst some of the coaches about possibly increasing that,’ Southgate said.

John Stones goes off injured whilst playing for England

Stones picked up an injury against Belgium (Picture: Getty)

Pushed on whether he would support the change, Southgate replied with a smile: ‘Well, given where we are now!

‘We’ve got to make the best decisions [with selection] with what we know and some of those currently are going to be medical decisions.

‘We’ve been able to get those right in the previous tournaments. We’ve been able to give people time [to recover]. But with 23 that’s definitely more difficult.’

The Three Lions boss saw Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka return to their clubs without even playing a single minute.

Harry ­Maguire and Kyle Walker were casualties against Brazil, while Sam Johnstone was injured in training and has since been ruled out of the tournament.

Kyle Walker goes off injured whilst playing for England

Kyle Walker was withdrawn against Brazil (Picture: Getty)

John Stones added to the injury crisis against Belgium, while Cole Palmer and Jordan Henderson remained with the squad but saw no action due to their own injury concerns.

Southgate will name his provisional squad on May 21, which is two days after the Premier League season ends.

But Southgate faces the possibility of having members of the England squad competing in the Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League and FA Cup finals after that training squad has been named which could yet give him another headache if injuries strike again.

The final squad for Euro 2024 must be submitted to UEFA an hour after their final warm-up game against Iceland on June 7, which follows a clash with Bosnia and Herzegovina at St James’ Park on June 3.

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