England boss Gareth Southgate has announced his 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
There are plenty of noteworthy inclusions and exclusions. So let’s go through the squad one step at a time…
Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Nick Pope
The headline news is that Joe Hart is not in the squad. He isn’t even on standby.
So it’s on Messrs Pickford, Butland and Pope to keep England calm and resolute in between the sticks.
It’s a bold move from Southgate. Hart was his only goalkeeper with any major tournament experience. However, each of the three named in the squad have been excellent this season.
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John Stones, Harry Maguire, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Danny Rose, Ashley Young, Kieran Trippier
There aren’t too many surprises in defence. Southgate takes four centre-halves in John Stones, Harry Maguire, Gary Cahill and Phil Jones.
The England boss has toyed with both three and four at the back, so it remains to be seen which way he goes when the tournament begins.
There’s plenty of page and energy on the flanks. And Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold’s storming second-half of the season has seen the 19-year-old land a spot in Russia.
Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Southgate has picked five traditional midfielders, but in today’s game that’s not a problem.
Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier will be expected to steady the ship, while Jesse Lingard’s fine season for Manchester United means his inclusion surprises nobody.
But it is a touch surprising – and heartening – to see Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the 23. The 22-year-old excelled for Crystal Palace this season under the tutelage of former England boss Roy Hodgson. Palace won just three of their 14 games without Loftus-Cheek this term.
His inclusion comes at the expense of Adam Lallana. The Liverpool ace just hasn’t shaken off a hamstring injury this season, starting just one match.
Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling
It’s up front where England can really excel this summer. And Southgate isn’t messing around with his five forwards.
Harry Kane’s all-round ability means he’s England’s likely starter this summer. Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford bring scintillating pace and clinical finishing.
Raheem Sterling has arguably been the best British player this season, thriving under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
It’s Danny Welbeck who may think himself a little fortunate. The Arsenal striker has had patches of excellence, but it’s his versatility and link-up play which has probably seen him get a seat on the plane to Russia over Theo Walcott.
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