Sol Campbell reveals his five England players to watch against Croatia
Sol Campbell has revealed the five players he’s most looking forward to seeing play for England against Croatia this weekend, and says Gareth Southgate’s men ‘have got to get to the final’.
England start their Euro 2020 campaign at Wembley on Sunday and we caught up with the former England defender to get his thoughts on who could make the difference for the Three Lions.
I think Phil Foden has proven himself and he should be right there in the starting line-up for England. He’s had an incredible season, going from strength to strength – he’s fit and he’s featured a lot, so it would be silly to muck around with him.
Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling are now experienced players in Gareth Southgate’s squad; they’ve seen it and they’ve been here before. Once that first game is upon us, those two will be chomping at the bit and I’m hoping Southgate does pick them. Experience counts for everything in these tournaments. You can always bring youngsters on; it’s just about finding that right blend of experience and youth.
Foden has to start against Croatia for me, for sure. I was in India watching the quarters, the semis and the final of the Under 17s World Cup and even back then he struck me as a sensational player; how he glides past players and knows where the goal is. It’s so nice to see him grow from that tournament into being a regular for Manchester City.
Harry Kane is obviously nailed on to start. He’ll be wanting to finish the tournament as top scorer having just got the Golden Boot in the Premier League. He’s always looking to break records and score goals, and I’m sure he’s desperate to propel England to the final.
His all-round play is excellent, his eye for goal is unbelievable, whether it’s inside or outside the box. He’s always looking to trouble the keeper.
I think it might surprise a few people but Jordan Pickford is someone I’m really looking forward to seeing against Croatia. Having a strong goalkeeper, a solid goalkeeper who knows what it’s like to be in this kind of environment is absolutely key. Any time I played I needed that kind of goalkeeper behind me and I always had it in my England days.
So Pickford is an important part – he just has to conduct himself well, doing the simple things – that gives confidence to the rest of the squad and that’s ultimately what it’s all about. He’s the first part of the jigsaw puzzle; he starts attacks and it’s an all-important role in modern-day football. There’s a fine line between confidence and overconfidence, but he’s just got to believe in his ability.
John Stones is a player whose position I obviously know so well, and I feel like he’s in such a great place in his career right now. Last season wasn’t his absolute best but he’s come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. In the box there are moments where he’s going to have to defend and put his body on the line, but we also know he can attack and pass.
He’s just got to be switched on and make the difference for us at the back, because I feel like if he can get that balance right between attack and defence, then he can really help us go far in this competition and he’ll be remembered for a really long time.
Another player I’m looking forward to seeing has to be Raheem Sterling. A player of immense experience; he’s won a lot, he’s been under pressure but that means he knows what it’s all about and he knows how important it is to succeed.
I think he’s going to make a big difference with his pace and goal scoring ability. But also he picks up those right positions in-between opponents’ defence and midfield and he’s got that electrifying pace and a point to prove. He’s got to show the world ‘yes, I am still a top player and I can do it on the big stage’. I know he’s got that in him, and he’s definitely one of the players I’m looking forward to seeing.
‘England have got to get to the final’
I think you’ve got the pressure on the team in this tournament; we’ve got to get to the final. With the team we’ve got, and that home advantage, we’ve got to be a little bit confident. The majority of the fans are behind you in the stadiums. As long as no one is too sure of themselves, we should be getting to the final, really.
Yes there’s a tough couple of potential knockout games in there on route to the final, in fact I think in some ways it’s actually a tougher competition to win than the World Cup, because you’re coming up against quality sides as early as the first knockout stage. With the World Cup, sometimes you might not meet those top teams until the semi-finals if you’re luck’s in, but with the Euros, you find yourself up against these tougher teams a lot quicker.