Euro 2024: Kyle Walker named England vice captain - sources

BLANKENHAIN, Germany -- Kyle Walker has been named England's new vice-captain ahead of the European Championship in Germany, sources have told ESPN.

The 34-year-old was informed of Gareth Southgate's decision earlier this month and takes on a key leadership role in a squad which has undergone a significant transformation since their last tournament, the 2022 World Cup.

Only half of the 26-man squad who travelled to Qatar were selected for Euro 2024 with manager Southgate overhauling his leadership group as a result.

Walker takes over as vice-captain from Jordan Henderson, who was left out of the squad this time after failing to prove his sharpness having recently returned from a muscular injury at Ajax.

The Manchester City defender is the second-most capped player in the squad, making his 83rd international appearance in last Friday's 1-0 home defeat to Iceland. Captain Harry Kane leads with 91 caps.

With Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling among those also left behind, Kieran Trippier and Declan Rice are part of Southgate's new-look leadership group charged with the responsibility of helping 12 players who have never been to a senior tournament before settle into Euro 2024.

Trippier captained England in their first warm-up game against Bosnia while Rice was named captain back in March on his 50th international appearance.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford confirmed defender John Stones "is fit and ready to go" for Sunday's Group C opener against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen.

Stones had been battling an ankle problem and missed training on Wednesday due to illness but Pickford said the Manchester City defender took full part in Friday's session.

England head into Euro 2024 as many bookmakers' favourites to win their first major men's honour in 58 years, and Pickford urged his teammates to thrive in that spotlight.

"[In] Russia in 2018, there was no pressure on us," he said. "But to be a top, elite team you have got to have pressure. You have got to deal with it. To be one of the favourites, you have got to enjoy that pressure.

"That's our goal [to win the tournament] but the most important thing for us is to win the first game, get out of the group, game-by-game focus on each game as it comes because you can't look too far ahead.

"Everyone's goal is to lift that trophy but it takes a hell of a lot of hard work to get there. There'll be nothing more proud to lift that trophy and to bring it home for the fans but there is so much hard work to do first.

"I know all the England fans will be rooting for us. They are passionate, everywhere in the country will be rooting for us and they'll be having a good few days on the booze so it'll be good."