Mason Mount sums up impossible task facing England at Euro 2020 as Harry Kane stands alone

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For many followers, ballooned by a biennial dose of unreasonable expectations, nothing less than lifting the trophy at Wembley on July 11 will constitute success for England over the next month.

And yet as Gareth Southgate’s team count down the final hours before beginning their campaign against Croatia on Sunday afternoon there remains too many question marks for an objective observer to class them as Tier 1 contenders irrespective of the bookmakers making them second favourites behind France.

For all the attacking talent at the manager’s disposal, a surfeit of wide players and No10s in addition to one of the world’s top two No9s, lack of depth in other departments is too much of a red flag. France, Portugal and Belgium all have better balanced groups.

Southgate, of course, likes versatility. When asked to explain his reasoning behind picking four right backs in his initial 26-man squad, the manager said that he only sees four very good footballers before listing out other roles they could be deployed in.

But options are not necessarily always welcome in a competition where solidity so often trumps fluidity. Forty-eight hours out from their first game, no one apart from Southgate, his coaching staff and perhaps the players can be certain of the line up and system.

Then there is the defence. Southgate has always been a pragmatist, even during his days as a club manager, and it is the backline that is the greatest source of angst. Harry Maguire’s injury does not help, although the Manchester United captain trained on the grass for the first time yesterday, and there is a suspicion that if he is absent England are more likely to revert to the three-man defence that produced mixed results in the autumn.

John Stones can be easy on the eye apart from that one slip in concentration a game and needs a more robust partner alongside him, while the makeup of a three could be anyone’s guess considering Luke Shaw and Reece James have spent time in inside roles at training, Kyle Walker has the most experience of such a system, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady are the squad’s other recognised centre backs and Ben White has gone from not being in the squad to a genuine option in the space of a week.

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