UEFA's confirmed rule change is good news for several of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United stars

UEFA have confirmed a rule change for this summer's European Championships which could present a Three Lions lifeline for Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford and boost the hopes of his team-mates.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 12:02 pm
CHANCES BOOSTED? England will be able to take 26 players to the Euros this summer, potentially giving Leeds United man Patrick Bamford a chance of sneaking into Gareth Southgate's squad. Pic: Bruce Rollinson

National teams can take 26 players to the tournament, instead of the originally set number of 23, following a decision by the UEFA Executive Committee.

A spokesperson for the governing body said: "To mitigate the risks of teams facing a shortage of available players due to possible positive COVID-19 tests and subsequent quarantine measures, it has been decided to exceptionally increase the squads for all participating teams.

"However, 23 players will remain the maximum number permitted for each individual match (in accordance with Law 3 of the IFAB Laws of the Game permitting a maximum of 12 substitutes to be named for A-national team matches), including three goalkeepers."

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The rule change could present a greater chance of international football this summer for a number of Marcelo Bielsa's Elland Road stars, including defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips who is currently out with a minor knee problem and forward Rodrigo, working his way back to full match fitness after another injury. Phillips has been a mainstay for England of late and would have been considered unlikely to miss out on a place in the squad even when Gareth Southgate could only select 23. Rodrigo has endured a difficult season however due to Covid-19 and injuries and was not fully fit when the last Spain squad was selected.

Diego Llorente is Leeds' other Spanish international dreaming of playing at the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, while his fellow centre-backs Robin Koch and Liam Cooper will almost certainly be included in the Germany and Scotland squads respectively.

Gjanni Alioski is expected to be a key player for North Macedonia and Mateusz Klich was already an established Poland international before playing in the top flight with Leeds.

As for Bamford, the Whites' leading goalscorer has been on the fringe of Gareth Southgate's England squad, without yet being called up, due to his Premier League exploits this season.

Although he's struggled to make an impact in recent games, with Leeds' attacking play falling apart before the final third at Brighton on Saturday and the game against Manchester United necessitating a more defensive performance, Bamford has impressed in the top flight with 14 goals during the campaign.

Southgate has addressed the forward's chances in public more than once and described him as 'very unfortunate' to have missed out on the last squad. The Three Lions boss instead went with Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins. The sheer number of quality forwards at Southgate's disposal makes life difficult for Bamford when it comes to international consideration but his hopes remain alive and a bigger squad could present a slightly greater chance.

Luke Ayling also came to Southgate's attention due to a fine first season of Premier League action without ever being called up and there are right-backs with more top-flight experience and established international careers ahead of him.