GARETH SOUTHGATE will be able to choose a 26-man squad for the Euros after a UEFA rethink.
Members of Uefa's national team committee agreed to extend squads from the normal size of 23 players as a result of the demands of the Covid-condensed season.
The decision will be ratified by Uefa’s ruling executive committee later this week.
But it means Southgate will be given more flexibility in his thinking when it comes to his squad for the finals which start in June.
Southgate suggested last month he would be happy to stick with the normal 23.
And he appeared to hint that Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was likely to miss out.
But the extra places represent good news for Alexander-Arnold and also for players like Bukayo Saka at Arsenal and Dortmund teenagers Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho.
It is also a boost for Aston Villa starlet Jack Grealish.
He appeared to have played himself into the squad with his impressive England performances earlier this season but has been out through a shin injury since mid-February.
The England boss is understood to have fixed ideas about the majority of his squad – injuries permitting – but the ability to name three extra players will make his final decisions a great deal easier.
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It also allows him the chance to include Bellingham even if the Dortmund ace may not get much playing time, with the youngster set to become a key part of the England set-up over the coming years.
Southgate is all too aware of the history of England taking injured players to tournaments and rueing those decisions.
That might have made him reluctant to fail to heed the lessons of the past.
But the option of naming 26 players means the flipside of taking a gamble on a player who might not quite be fit enough to play would be significantly lessened by the extra flexibility of numbers in the squad.
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