National team managers at the delayed Euro 2020 this summer will be allowed to pick a larger squad with 26 players, an increase on the usual 23 permitted at major international tournaments, in an effort to lessen the demands on players caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Leagues across Europe were delayed or cancelled altogether in 2019/20 when the pandemic first took hold and the knock-on effects resulted in plenty of delayed starts to 2020/21 domestic seasons, even though they remained scheduled to finish on time without further delays.
The Premier League, for example, is playing a full 38-game season in one fewer month than usual, having delayed the start of the campaign to September from August, but still finishing in May.
In light of players having to play the same number of games in less time, The Times reports that UEFA’s national teams committee has recommended the temporary squad expansion for Euro 2020. It will need to approved by UEFA’s executive committee, but that is expected to be a formality.
23-player squads have been the norm at European Championship finals tournaments since Euro 2004, with Euro 2000 the last at which a maximum of 22 players could be named in each squad.
A number of countries with deep talent pools that were facing tricky selection choices stand to benefit from the increase to 26-player squads this year.
England manager Gareth Southgate is among the national team bosses whose headache has been eased, with the Three Lions possessing a number of players on the fringes of the squad who might not have otherwise made the cut this time around because of the fierce competition. Players like Jack Grealish, Jude Bellingham and Ollie Watkins could be the main beneficiaries.
The same goes for France, with Didier Deschamps having 25 players in his squad during the last international break, as well as seeing N’Golo Kante withdraw and also being without rising stars Dayot Upamecano, Eduardo Camavinga and Houssem Aouar.