Gareth Southgate has given off a whiff of weakness but England's Euro 2020 squad still looks strong

The Three Lions chief has blinked but his final squad has enough potential to go far in the tournament

In the end, there was no Gazza moment.

James Ward-Prowse may have some of the legend’s ability from set-pieces, but his omission from England’s Euro 2020 squad is unlikely to gain the column inches that Glenn Hoddle’s axing of Dunston’s favourite son did in 1998.

Sign up to our World of Sport newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The media darlings were all included. Trent Alexander-Arnold. Tick. Jack Grealish. Tick. Jude Bellingham. Tick.

Gareth Southgate has named his England squad for the Euros.

Put down your pens and podcast mics. All is good.

There will be no real angst over Ward-Prowse’s snub, outside of the Southampton shores at least. An easy target, despite Southgate having made him his Under-21s captain and including him in his last four senior squads. The Saints star seems the fall guy for Southgate’s desire to include four right-backs.

It was an odd one. The England boss has not shirked big decisions before – the dropping of captain Wayne Rooney from only his second side demonstrated that for all his Mr Nice Guy image, there is a ruthless side to the man in charge.

England's midfielder James Ward-Prowse (R) celebrates scoring the opening goal against San Marino at Wembley Stadium in March.

He’s never been one to bow to public pressure, either. He left Grealish on the sidelines long enough, kept faith with Jordan Pickford when others called for the chop, and has called up plenty players from unfashionable clubs along the way.

Here, however, he has blinked.

Including four right-backs in a bloated 26-man squad, enlarged due to fatigue concerns after the hectic post-pandemic 2020-21 campaign, is really neither here nor there. The extra three squad members allowed him arguably won’t play anyhow.

It just has a whiff of weakness about it.

You don’t need four right-backs, so don’t choose them all just because it is a difficult decision to drop one of Premier League winner Kyle Walker, La Liga winner Kieran Tripper, Champions League winner Reece James, or outstanding talent Alexander-Arnold who has won plenty before the age of 20.

Make the big call, Gareth. Show us yer balls!

If anything, choose an extra centre-half given Harry Maguire’s injury doubts, or another midfielder given Jordan Henderson’s fitness issues.

Or more likely, bring a young, uncapped player along for the ride that will benefit from the experience even if you know he isn’t going to be included, like Sven-Goran Eriksson did with Theo Walcott or Terry Venables did in Euro 96 with Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard.

Maybe Southgate has deliberately blocked 1996 out of his mind.

That all said, it shouldn’t matter. The squad chosen has enough talent in it to go far, certainly as far as Southgate got in 96 and three years ago in Russia. There's youthful promise in Phil Foden and Bellingham, the potential of goals in Grealish, Harry Kane and Mason Mount, a midfield that can combine creativity with defensive resolve, and players who have performed on the highest stages over the last few years.

Oh and four – count them, four – world class right-backs.

What do you think of Southgate’s selections? Let us know in the comments box below