Things look a lot more rosy for England these days compared to when Gareth Southgate took over as interim manager three years ago.


Roy Hodgson stepped down immediately after the embarrassing 2-1 defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016, leaving a number of players in and around the squad who had no business playing international football.


Sam Allardyce's ill-fated one-game stint in charge would follow, and we all know how that ended - pint of wine n' all. In came Sir Gareth of Southgate, and the rest is history.


And history is why we're here; to look back on the players Southgate inherited and the very first starting eleven of his so far very successful career as Three Lions boss.

Gareth Southgate

So, let's take a stroll down memory lane and have a look at Southgate's first England team, taken from a game against Malta in October 2016. Brace yourselves, it's a pretty bad team, and they only won 2-0.


Goalkeeper

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Joe Hart - Legend has it that Joe Hart was pretty good for most of his England career.


But unfortunately most don't remember his 65 give-or-take good appearances. Most just remember him for getting a bit lairy in the tunnel before the 2-1 loss to Iceland, where he made a howler of a mistake as the Three Lions crashed out of Euro 2016 in the last 16.


Defenders

Ryan Bertrand

Kyle Walker - The ​Manchester City man filled a gap in the England team for a number of years, and did it well in all fairness.


Quick and strong, the only weakness that was exposed on international duty was his lack of positional awareness. He gave away a penalty against Tunisia at the 2018 World Cup and was caught napping for Croatia's second goal in the semi-final of that tournament.


Would still be a fine option for Southgate, but the England boss has opted for Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold in his recent squad, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka also has his admirers. Out in the cold, for now.


Gary Cahill - Technically pretty good and a big unit at the back, Cahill actually captained his country a few times.


However, he was found wanting on occasion against some of the more prestige nations around the world and played a massive role - a bad, bad one - in the Iceland defeat. Lingered around the squad and went to the 2018 World Cup, but effectively retired from international duty later that year.


John Stones - The City defender is expected to stay in and around the squad for the rest of his top flight career, even if the jury is still out on his defensive abilities.

Alfred Effiong,Wayne Rooney,John Stones

Made his debut in 2014 and impressed four years later in Russia, but a lapse in concentration against the Netherlands allowed Memphis Depay to score in the 3-1 Nations League semi final defeat in June.


A fine passer and comfortable on the ball, critics still say Stones lacks the rough steel needed from a top-class centre-back. Time will tell.


Ryan Bertrand - The Southampton defender was probably England's best left back for a few years, given the decline in form of Danny Rose and Luke Shaw's eagerness to get injured.


Bertrand actually scored in the reverse fixture against Malta in 2017, but Ben Chilwell has since emerged and the Leicester star usually battles Rose for the left-back spot. Southampton have been leaky at the back so far this season and Bertrand was even sent off during the 9-0 defeat to the Foxes, while Chilwell was on the winning team.


Probably won't be back, unless Southgate's options become depleted by injuries.


Midfielders

Dele Alli

Dele Alli - Ah, the glory years of Dele Alli's career thus far. Even if fans were divided on how good he was, there could be no arguing with his goal record. He got the second goal in this game as England made themselves comfortable.


Fast forward three years, and things look far grimmer for a player once considered one of the most promising of his generation.


Niggling injuries, playing out of position and a drastic loss of form at ​Tottenham mean Alli hasn't been included in England's last two squads, with his spot at Euro 2020 far from guaranteed. Has shown signs of improvement at Spurs in the past month or so, but needs to rediscover the elite form that made him so revered during the 2016/17 season.


Jordan Henderson - One of the few players whose reputation has actually improved since this game.


Henderson is now a crucial cog in the ​Liverpool machine with his strengths well-known, whereas his talents where somewhat underappreciated and not quite so well documented a few years ago.


The former Sunderland midfielder is now a Champions League winner and his Liverpool side are firmly in control of the Premier League title race.


Wayne Rooney - You'd be forgiven for thinking that Wayne Rooney just vanished from the international scene after the Iceland debacle. 


However, he actually stuck around as England looked to get fans back on side in the run up to the 2018 World Cup, before eventually calling it a day in 2017.


He played a farewell match in November 2018 against the USA, promoting his newly founded charity. Will join Derby as a player-coach in January following a stint at D.C. United.


Forwards

Daniel Sturridge

Theo Walcott - This forward line is all kinds of nightmarish, but it's just a reminder of the lack of depth Southgate had to deal with during his first year or so as England boss.


Walcott was always good for a few goals each season at Arsenal but only managed eight in 47 appearances for England, with his future prospects looking bleak.


He now bounces between Everton's starting XI and their substitutes bench, but wouldn't bring anything to the England set-up that we haven't seen before. A case of a promising youngster who sadly never quite fulfilled his potential on the international stage, for one reason or another.


Daniel Sturridge - Sturridge lived off his 2013/14 season for a good few years, despite injuries halting any chance of progression in the following campaigns. He opened the scoring against Malta.


Holds a reasonable record of eight goals in 26 appearances for England, scoring at both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, but hasn't featured internationally since 2017.


Now playing in Turkey with Trabzonspor, Sturridge has scored twice in five league appearances this season.

Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard - Lingard hasn't actually been that bad when he has played for England, but two patches of decent form isn't enough to get you into Southgate's squad nowadays, especially with attacking stars like James Maddison, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho proving to be more effective during the first few months of the 2019/20 season.


The ​former Brighton and Derby loanee was part of the three man midfield of himself, Henderson and Alli that was eventually overrun at last year's World Cup, but has only played for his country twice in 2019.


Needs another purple patch akin to his performances during the 2017/18 season if he is to have any hope of making Southgate's Euro squad in the summer.


Substitutes


Chris Smalling - Enjoying a renaissance in Rome. Unlikely to break into the squad anytime soon given Southgate's previous comments on the central defender.


Fraser Forster - Yeah, this was a thing only a few years ago. Eventually frozen out at Southampton and now on loan at Celtic.


Danny Rose - Still in the squad, but should become mainly a reserve option to Chilwell in the next year or so. Could drop out of the squad if literally anyone else emerges.


Eric Dier - Has provided some great memories for fans while playing for England - see Russia free kick and Colombia penalty as examples - but needs to figure out what he's best at before Southgate can bring him back into the fold.

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Michael Keane - Was a baby on the international scene in 2016. Picked after some impressive performances for Burnley. Has partnered Harry Maguire in defence but still doesn't look entirely convincing.


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Oxlade-Chamberlain stagnated in his later years at Arsenal. Soz but it's true. However, following his move to Liverpool, his strengths are now clear to see and he will be a real asset for England over the next few years, so long as he can stay fit.


Michail Antonio - Yeah, this was also a thing. If Southgate switches to tactics based on scoring headers at the back post, Antonio will get his recall. Don't bank on it, though.


Jamie Vardy - Now retired from international duty, Vardy is enjoying a brilliant season for Leicester. He's scored 11 goals in the Premier League so far this term and would definitely be in the current squad if he were available.

Jamie Vardy

Andros Townsend - Townsend had about five good games for Tottenham and coasted off the back of those games to get into the England squad for a few years. Hasn't played internationally since 2016.


Tom Heaton - Now at Aston Villa, Heaton faces a tough ask to get back into the squad. Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson and Nick Pope are Southgate's current favourites, but an injury to either of those three could open the door for a recall.


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