Arsenal and Chelsea stars set to suffer after UEFA confirm major rule change

Southgate believes England 'capable of winning' Euro 2024

Several England stars could suffer due to a UEFA rule change that will see 23 players named for Euro 2024 rather than 26. Gareth Southgate has been able to pick 26 players for the last two tournaments but that will decrease to the more traditional figure of 23 for next summer’s tournament in Germany. 

Players on the periphery of Southgate’s squad will face an anxious wait before the Three Lions head coach names his squad for Euro 2024. An extra three individuals have been able to travel to recent tournaments. 

UEFA increased the squad size from 23 players to 26 for the delayed Euro 2020 tournament three years ago. That was because of the effect Covid-19 was having, with players navigating a gruelling schedule that had been squeezed to accommodate the late-starting 2020-21 season. 

FIFA then adopted the rule change for the 2022 World Cup. Southgate was even one of the managers who criticised the decision to make squads bigger. 

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But UEFA are set to return to the traditional number of 23 players for Euro 2024 next summer. Article 48 of the governing body’s regulations makes clear that a maximum of 23 stars can be selected per nation. 

It leaves several of Southgate’s charges biting their nails over whether they will travel to Germany come the end of the season. Arsenal duo Ben White and Eddie Nketiah and Chelsea trio Levi Colwill, Conor Gallagher and Raheem Sterling are three players who may hope to just about squeeze into Southgate’s plans. 

There might also be anxiety for the likes of Nick Pope, Lewis Dunk, Fikayo Tomori, Jarrod Bowen, Ollie Watkins, and Callum Wilson. Each of those stars has come in and out of Southgate’s thinking over the last few months. 

England eased to qualification thanks to a 3-1 win over Italy on Tuesday night. They can cap an unbeaten qualification campaign when they visit North Macedonia in November. 

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“I’m really pleased to win the game tonight. That’s the first thing,” Southgate reflected on Tuesday. 

“We know that the games against the top, top nations are the ones that we want to make a step forward with. We still need to win the games next month because it can affect seeding.

“It’s nice to get it done early. I think it’s probably the toughest qualifying group, with Ukraine, Italy and the results that North Macedonia have had, not only in this qualification but also in previous qualifications.”

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