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The last time an England manager picked a provisional squad for the Euros, Danny Drinkwater, Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend were the unlucky trio to have the tantalising prospect of representing their country at a major tournament dangled in front of them, only to be left waving tearfully from the departures lounge as Mr Roy and his final 23 jetted off for France. One imagines their crushing disappointment at being overlooked was soon replaced by an overwhelming sense of relief that they remained untainted by association with the absolute shambles selected ahead of them, as they surfed through the group stages on the usual wave of misplaced jingoism, media-cheerleading and over-confidence only to be eliminated in the first knockout round by a sparsely populated North Atlantic rock.
Allowed to choose 26 players for this summer’s transcontinental jamboree, Gareth Southgate could have spared himself the ordeal of having to engage in any last-minute Mr Roy-style hope-crushing and dream-dashing, but has instead added “Provoke fan and media outrage over next week’s omissions” to his To Do list. Factoring in various knack concerns and the fact a sizeable English contingent is preparing for this week’s Big Vase and Big Cup finals, the man in the woollen waistcoat has named a provisional squad of 33 players which will be trimmed and announced this day next week. Already, there are notable omissions, with Eric Dier, Danny Ings, James Maddison, Patrick Bamford, Tammy Abraham and the knee-knacked Nick Pope missing out.