UEFA give go-ahead for larger Euros squads

Aidan Perkins
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April 29th 2021, 12:41 pm
Last Updated 1 month ago
UEFA give go-ahead for larger Euros squads

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European football’s governing body has decided they will allow teams at this year’s Euros to select an enlarged 26-man squad.

National teams are normally restricted to 23-man squads for tournaments, but UEFA has decided to increase the number by another three players due to this season’s congested fixture calendar.

Some domestic leagues will not finish their campaign until late May, due to the knock-on impact of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

The decision is subject to the agreement of the UEFA executive committee, but is expected to be sanctioned despite mixed opinions from some of the coaches.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez backed the plan, saying he “completely supported the idea” which he felt was “a necessity”.

The former Everton and Wigan manager added: “It is something that is needed. It would mirror the changes that have been made in world football currently with the five substitutions and the uncertainty of the pandemic and the extra level of injuries.”

Another coach in favour of the move is Italian boss Roberto Mancini – who is looking to lead the Azzurri to their first Euros success since 1968.

Mancini told broadcaster RAI: “It would be a good idea to expand squads to 25, 26 players. If you UEFA would take this decision, I would definitely be in favour.”

England chief Gareth Southgate was, however, one of those against the plan originally, but its now being claimed the 50-year-old is finally on board with the idea.

With Leicester City star Harvey Barnes this week ruled out of the tournament due to injury, the extra three places in the squad will definitely give Southgate food for thought, with three more players offering more cover in different positions.

It is the smaller nations, though, who may have their concerns with the UEFA plan, as they are likely to feel it hands the bigger countries even more of an advantage, as they have more top-quality players to select from.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke believes the increased numbers means he has some selection dilemmas to now sort out as he prepares for the start of this summer’s tournament.

Clarke admitted: “I’d sort of more or less nailed down the 23 in my head, so it’s given me a lot more to think about. Obviously it will make the job when you’re there more difficult because you’re leaving players out that won’t be involved in the games, but it’s a chance for some players that might have missed out to be in the squad and to experience the whole atmosphere of a major tournament, which will be good.”

Final squads for Euro 2020 have to be submitted by June 1, which is 10 days prior to the opening match of the tournament – when Turkey face Italy in Rome.

Aidan Perkins

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.