Gareth Southgate has picked his squad to face the Netherlands and Italy in the latest International Break and is brimming with young talents from all across the Premier League and has named four previously uncapped players in Alfie Mawson, Lewis Cook, Nick Pope and James Tarkowski. This squad is a 27-man squad which is too large to fit into a World Cup team and so there will be some difficult choices made by Southgate as to who to crop from the team. He ought to choose three goalkeepers, seven defenders, eight midfielders and five forwards.
GOALKEEPERS: JACK BUTLAND, JORDAN PICKFORD, NICK POPE
|Will Jack Butland be playing for England in Russia while Joe Hart watches
While Southgate has admitted that Joe Hart was England’s qualifying keeper for the World Cup, it would be unfair to the other goalkeepers who have played significantly more football than the West Ham sub. Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland have been consistant starters for Everton and Stoke City respectively and Nick Pope has been outstanding in the abscence of Tom Heaton for the Clarets while Hart has been in and out of the team and conceding shed-loads of goals whilst between the sticks. It seems that things could not get any worse for poor Joe but provided he plays well in the build up to the World Cup he may find his way back into the squad, but with the impressive form of the other goalkeepers being more consistent than the former Shrewsbury man, it seems unlikely.
DEFENDERS: KYLE WALKER, KIERAN TRIPPIER, PHIL JONES, JOHN STONES, HARRY MAGUIRE, JOE GOMEZ, RYAN BERTRAND, ASHLEY YOUNG
Gareth Southgate has shown an interest in playing a back three and so will want solid defenders who can play out from the back. Stones and Jones are probably the best at that and Harry Maguire is also a fantastic ball-playing centre half and was courted by Manchester City in the January transfer window because of this. Joe Gomez is a versatile defender, able to play on the left and right full back positions and as a centre back as well and a very good young talent that should be playing more for Liverpool. The right backs are an easy decision as they have been second to no one and with Clyne injured for a long time, it is doubtful as to whether the former Saints man can catch up. The decision to pick the left backs should be a more difficult situation with Ryan Bertrand surrounded in a relegation battle, Danny Rose hampered by his knee injuries and Luke Shaw in and out of the United squad. The most consistent left backs of the season have to be Young and Bertrand and so should get the nod over Rose and Shaw provided the latter do not improve substantially in the next few games.
MIDFIELDERS: ERIC DIER, JACK WILSHERE, JORDAN HENDERSON, JACK CORK, ADAM LALLANA, ALEX-OXLADE CHAMBERLAIN, DELE ALLI, JESSE LINGARD
England’s holding midfield positions are the most difficult positions to choose from but Eric Dier, despite his issues this season has always turned up for England and should be in the squad. Henderson has his critics but has something to prove with Naby Keita coming into the Liverpool team and could be England’s best passer but has to turn up. Wilshere and Lallana are attacking midfielders that have had inconsistent seasons so far but while Lallana has not had enough time to settle back into the Liverpool squad yet, Wilshere looks like Arsenal’s best player and always tries his hardest and has earned his return to England duties. Jack Cork is a good substitute midfielder and has had a good season with Burnley with a 71% tackle success and 189 recoveries of the ball and deserves to be in the squad over the likes of Lewis Cook and Jake Livermore. The Ox, Lingard and Alli have had good seasons and are easy shoe-ins to the squad as they are impact players and have shown so for their respective clubs.
FORWARDS: MARCUS RASHFORD, JAMIE VARDY, RAHEEM STERLING, CALLUM WILSON, HARRY KANE
Taking Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford to the World Cup are obvious decisions and have scored a combined total of 45 goals in the Premier League (24, 15 and 6 respectively). Jamie Vardy also deserves to be in the World Cup squad and has scored 14 goals in the League for the 2015/16 Champions and offers raw pace, a physical presence and good finishing that any World Cup team requires. There were numerous options for the final forward, Jermain Defoe, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Daniel Sturridge etc. but Callum Wilson deserves the place with consistent starts for Bournemouth and has chipped in with seven goals. Welbeck, Sturridge and Defoe have all been in and out of the season and have scored a combined eight league goals which is one more than Wilson. Walcott was the closest second and has admittedly improved at Everton but Wilson has been more consistent and provided he does not get another injury to hamper his season he ought to get past double digits for the Premier League, a feat he has yet to manage.
BUTLAND, PICKFORD, POPE
WALKER, TRIPPIER, JONES, STONES, MAGUIRE, GOMEZ, BERTRAND, YOUNG
DIER, HENDERSON, WILSHERE, CORK, OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN, LALLANA, LINGARD, ALLI
STERLING, RASHFORD, VARDY, WILSON, KANE