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England’s five burning questions answered including ‘unthinkable’ Harry Kane decision

THE BIG DEBATE:England have failed to live up to expectations at Euro 2024 and were booed off after playing poorly and failing to beat Denmark in Frankfurt on Thursday

Euro 2024 is only a week old but it's already been a tournament to remember - unless you're an England fan, of course.

Two games in and the Three Lions have failed to live up to their billing as one of the pre-tournament favourites both in Gelsenkirchen, where they laboured past Serbia, and in Frankfurt on Thursday, where England were booed off after a dire 1-1 draw with Denmark.

But what's gone wrong for England? It already feels like Gareth Southgate has a number of problems that need to be solved, even though his men are sat at the top of Group C ahead of Tuesday match's against Slovenia with their destiny firmly in their own hands.

With fans frustrated, we asked the Mirror Football team out in Germany for their thoughts. With input from Andy Dunn (AD), John Cross (JC) and Jeremy Cross (JeC).

Should Gareth Southgate consider dropping Harry Kane?

AD : Absolutely not - not if the skipper is fit, that is. And even if he is 80 percent fit, stick with him. Kane can nick one against the Slovenians, come off early and then have a few days to get closer to top shape for the last-16 match. Tactically, the manager needs to tweak his system to get Kane more involved.

JeC : The prospect has been unthinkable, considering his status in the team. He's the captain and main goalscorer, but the reality is Kane is also not involved in games enough. The current tactics do him few favours and he's dropping too deep. Which defeats the whole object, considering what a lethal marksmen he is. A rest would do him good.

JC : Not in a million years. Kane is England’s leader, talisman, record goalscorer. He is worth his weight in gold.

We should not indulge egos or big-name players who get picked on reputation. But anyone who knows Kane, knows he is not that player. Even when he does not play well - like against Denmark - he can score. But it is also about what he adds to the team: leadership. He’ll play his way into form.

Harry Kane came under criticism for his display against Denmark
Harry Kane scored but was also substituted against Denmark

Does the midfield need to change?

AD : Yes. After Gareth Southgate made his changes midway through the second half of the Denmark match, it was all a bit slapdash but there is no doubt that Conor Gallagher had a positive effect after coming on for Trent Alexander-Arnold. And Foden and Bellingham can still be a formidable combination.

JeC : Yes. It's the area of the pitch that will decide England's ultimate fate at Euro 2024. The Trent Alexander-Arnold experiment has not worked, because his discipline and defending is nowhere near good enough.

Jude Bellingham should slot in alongside Declan Rice with a license to go forward, while Phil Foden should operate in the No.10 role. He's at his best in tight spaces.

JC : Yes. It needs change - urgently. My suggestion would be to drop Bellingham deeper, into more of an 8 role. He can play it, he should play it and it can work. Then you could use Phil Foden in the No10 role. I thought Foden was so unlucky to be hooked against Denmark. He was good. Alexander-Arnold can play midfield - but not in this tournament. They’ve not had time to make it work. Switch him to right back or leave him out.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Gareth Southgate
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been deployed in midfield for England's opening two games

Southgate said England are missing Kalvin Phillips? Are they really?

AD : If you are talking about Kalvin Phillips in what passed for his pomp, then yes - England are missing a Kalvin Phillips-style player.

Or perhaps what Southgate should have said is that Southgate is missing Kalvin Phillips. The manager loves playing with that double pivot. It suits his conservatism.

JeC : He's had pelters for saying this, not least because Phillips has seen his career go off the edge of a cliff. He couldn't even get a game on-loan at West Ham towards the end of last season.

But Southgate is referring to the Phillips who anchored the midfield so brilliantly during Euro 2020. That man is now Kobbie Mainoo. He's taken him, so why not pick him?

JC : Southgate dropped one with his comment after Denmark. Yes, they are missing a player to play alongside Declan Rice. Kalvin Phillips did it brilliantly at the last Euros. But his career has had a major dip and now, for Southgate to suggest they are missing him is a comment to invite ridicule. They miss a player of that profile. But anyone who saw Phillips at West Ham will just think Southgate has lost the plot.

England manager Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate bemoaned the absence of Kalvin Phillips after the draw against Denmark

Why can't England build on a lead?

AD : The reason England cannot build on a lead is quite an obvious one - right now, this is a team and a system that is not creating anything like enough chances or half-chances. It’s not that they go into a defensive shell, it’s that they don’t press high and hard enough, full stop. They are set up to be low and compact.

JeC : It must all go back to the instructions Southgate has given them. Go ahead then sit tight, play deeper and protect what you've got. Which is absolute madness considering the attacking talents England have at their disposal. The handbrake shouldn't be left on. All the great sides have that killer instinct, but England seem to like making life difficult for themselves.

JC : The biggest single factor is they sit back. It was Erik ten Hag, working as a pundit on Dutch TV, who called it. He said during the Serbia game that England scored, retreated and then just relied on “moments.” That summed it up perfectly. England did the same against Denmark. They scored, then retreated and yet they should have pushed on and really hammered home their advantage by going on the front foot. Change the mindset!

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JUNE 20: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Pickford, John Stones and Bukayo Saka of England react following Denmark's first goal during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Denmark and England at Frankfurt Arena on June 20, 2024 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
England have flattered to deceive in both of their Euro 2024 games

But...are we panicking too much?

AD : Of course we are. Tournament history is littered with winners who have been deeply unconvincing in the early stages but there are too many worrying signs to still think England might win the whole thing. Southgate has a preferred line-up and system that is simply not going to produce enough goals.

JeC : It's part of the English DNA to do so when results don't go to plan. The circus around England has always been bonkers, but the levels of paranoia have reached unprecedented levels in recent times, due to the Three Lions success and threatening to actually win a tournament.

England are good enough, because the talent is there. But the question is, is Southgate good enough to get the most out of that talent?

England Euro 2024 kit

The Three Lions are among the favourites to win this summer's Euro 2024 tournament and you can get your hands on the brand new Nike home and away kits before the first whistle.

JC : I think England will beat Slovenia next Tuesday and qualify as Group winners. So you could argue that we are panicking too much because that’s what we all expected and I thought Denmark would be the hardest game in the Group.

However, it’s all about form. Again, it’s important you get momentum later in the tournament and no-one wants to peak too soon. But the panic comes from a team which looks tired, unbalanced and way off being potential winners. Unless they can address the issues at left back (not having a single fit one in the squad), midfield and then the attacking formation then they will lose to the first top team they play.

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