Jeff Stelling has caused plenty of backlash online with his picks for England’s starting XI for their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia on Sunday.

Southgate’s side touched down in Erfurt on Monday night as they began to settle into their European Championship training base.

The England boss will already have an idea on who he plans to start against Serbia with a large consensus on what his best XI currently is.

However, Stelling has gone against the grain with some of his choices.

Stelling first explained his decision to drop John Stones for Lewis Dunk was due to Serbia’s height advantage and the Manchester City star’s knock.

Jeff Stelling has made some rogue choices in his England starting XI


“First of all, Serbia are the biggest team in the tournament, the tallest team in the tournament,” he said.

“They are going to be physical, they are going to be aggressive.

“John Stones has picked up a knock, he’s not physical, he’s not aggressive. He’s wonderful on the ball.

“I worry about us aerially for set plays, so I’ve put Lewis Dunk in there, because he’s 6ft 4in, he dominates in the air.”

He went on to admit that his front three selection was ‘controversial’ as he feels Cole Palmer deserves to start over Bukayo Saka.

Foden was named Premier League Player of the Year, but Stelling opted for Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon.

The talkSPORT host explained: “Palmer, [Harry] Kane and Anthony Gordon, who I thought was our biggest threat for most part of the night [against Iceland].

“He has been in brilliant form, and everyone’s going to batter me because there is no Phil Foden there.

“But Foden, four goals in 34 games for England. I think Gareth Southgate and his staff are scratching their heads as to how to get the best out of Phil Foden for England.”

The starting XI caused a stir on social media with not many agreeing with Stelling’s controversial picks.

One person replied: “Bold and bizarre.”

Jeff Stelling surprisingly left Bukayo Saka out of his starting line-up

Jeff Stelling surprisingly left Bukayo Saka out of his starting line-up


Another angrily wrote: “Gordon??? Instead of Foden??? WTF!!! He was awful Friday night, ran so many blind alleys.”

A third posted: “Wtf, where is Foden?”

One other message read: “That CB pairing will lose us this tournament. Defence is shocking.”

Another joked: “All of a sudden Southgate doesn’t seem so bad!”


Anthony Gordon was picked over Phil Foden

Anthony Gordon was picked over Phil Foden


It’s been suggested that Stones will likely be fit enough to play England’s opener against Serbia and he is seen as the favoured partner to Marc Guehi at the back.

Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier are expected to start in the full-back positions with Declan Rice the holding midfielder.

Trent Alexander-Arnold looks set to feature alongside the Arsenal star with Jude Bellingham playing in the advanced midfield role.

Saka and Foden will likely be the players pick to flank either side of captain Kane up front.