So, England are heading to the 2018 World Cup with their most settled squad for a while. At most, Gareth Southgate is missing 2 squad players and none of his first choice team. Yet England are far from the top contenders, even though Southgate has unified and refreshed an ageing squad.
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England Team Stats
England 🏴 World Ranking: 13th
Previous World Cup: Group Stage (4th in group D)
Record Since Last World Cup: P42, W27, D10, L5
Odds to win: 16/1 (7th favourites)
Southgate took over from Sam Allardyce after the latter’s ill fated 1 match reign ended after a corruption sting. Since then, the former u21 manager has attempted to introduce youth and togetherness to a squad shorn of big names. They press hard and play a calm possession based game.
Southgate’s World Cup Winning XI
The Everton man’s distribution will get him the nod over Butland.
The gurning CB’s ability on the ball, plus the selection of just 3 CB’s get him the slot.
The lynchpin of the defence. His passing is better than many midfielders.
Like Jones, only 3 CBs selected so gets the nod.
The Man City FB is a potent weapon on the right.
The captain is the heartbeat of the team alongside Dier.
Forms a solid yet technically able partnership with Henderson.
Offers pace and stamina up and down the left wing.
Pace and trickery plus an added eye for goal gets him the nod.
Great awareness of space plus club partnership with Kane.
The focal point of England’s attack can both hold up the ball and run behind.
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A Run-Down of England’s Full Squad
Jordan Pickford – 24 – 2 caps
The Everton stopper has only picked up 2 caps but is likely to go into the World Cup as first choice. Thrust into Sunderland’s No.1 spot unexpectedly, he shone as his team were relegated, earning a £25 million move to Everton. His long range kicking is of high quality.
Jack Butland – 25 – 7 caps
The Stoke man has been around for a long time despite his young age, making his England debut 5 years ago. He’s only gained 7 caps thanks to both his injury problems and having Joe Hart (75 caps) ahead of him. Now the Man City goalkeeper is out of the squad, Butland’s path may be blocked by younger man Pickford.
Nick Pope – 26 – 0 caps
I don’t think anyone would have expected Nick Pope to be going to a World Cup. Signed as Tom Heaton’s backup by Burnley, he took the gloves when his club captain suffered a long term injury. The former Charlton man fully deserves his spot for some eye catching displays in bringing European football to Burnley.
Kyle Walker – 27 – 34 caps, 0 goals
It took a while for Kyle Walker to fulfil the early promise he showed for Tottenham, but before and after his £50 million move to Manchester City he’s more than shown his worth. An attacking wing back, Walker has also been trialled on the right of a back 3 by Southgate, where he was assured.
Keiran Trippier – 27 – 5 caps, 0 goals
Formerly Walker’s understudy at Tottenham, the former Manchester City schoolboy has blossomed as first choice. Offers quality backup to Walker at wing back, is a solid defender and offers an excellent cross if lacking some of Walker’s out and out pace.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 19 – 0 caps, 0 goals
The surprise pick, Alexander-Arnold has had a supreme breakthrough season for Liverpool, performing excellently in the Champions League. His ability to slot into central midfield is a big plus in a 23 man squad.
John Stones – 23 – 24 caps, 0 goals
The Manchester City defender is as comfortable with the ball at his feet as a central midfielder, though lapses in concentration have previously thwarted him. Established as first choice for Manchester City’s galacticos, he offers ball playing aplomb in the middle of England’s back 3.
Phil Jones – 26 – 24 caps, 0 goals
The gurning Manchester United defender should have had more caps but for injuries. Jones is ever willing to put his body on the line for the cause. While his club colleague Chris Smalling is the more accomplished defender, Jones’ ability with the ball at his feet got him the nod over his clubmate.
Harry Maguire – 25 – 4 caps, 0 goals
The Leicester defender has had a very good season after arriving from relegated Hull. His passing and ability to stride forward with the ball is what convinced Southgate of his worth. Also accomplished in the air.
Gary Cahill – 32 – 58 caps, 4 goals
Chelsea captain Cahill was expected to miss out after being dropped for both club and country recently. But he earned his spot back domestically so offers experience and positional canny to England’s raw squad.
Danny Rose – 27 – 16 caps, 0 goals
The Tottenham wing-back may have lost his club role to Ben Davies, but he still retains his England place. At his best, he is an energetic presence up and down the entire left flank. Suffered a little after long-term injury, so Southgate will be hoping he can find some form quickly.
Fabian Delph – 28 – 9 caps, 0 goals
After Benjamin Mendy suffered knee ligament damage, Delph was turned into a makeshift left back by Pep Guardiola. And the former Aston Villa and Leeds man has shone under the Spaniard. A surprise inclusion, his ability to slot in at LB and central midfield earned his spot.
Ashley Young – 32 – 33 caps, 7 goals
Another player converted to left back, Young has emerged as Mourinho’s first choice for Manchester United. His experience and ability up and down the wing are key in an inexperienced squad.
Eric Dier – 24 – 25 caps, 3 goals
Dier came through the ranks at Sporting Lisbon in Portugal before joining Tottenham. Originally a defender, his ability with the ball at his feet and positional awareness led to him earning a spot in central midfield. A calm presence who helps England dictate play.
Jordan Henderson – 27 – 38 caps, 0 goals
Liverpool’s captain, Henderson has become a lynchpin for both club and country. At Liverpool he is the calm in the storm, while he is key for England, breaking up attacks before starting attacks from deep. Injuries have hampered his form going forward, but he has added defensive and positional nous to his game.
Dele Alli – 22 – 23 caps, 2 goals
Alli has been a revelation since making his top flight debut. The attacking midfielder has been at the heart of Tottenham’s resurgence. At times a bit selfish, his awareness of space and first touch are excellent. Form has suffered this season as oppositions have got to grips with him.
Jesse Lingard – 25 – 10 caps, 1 goal
Scored the winner in the recent friendly against Italy, his first international goal, and is looking more and more assured at the top level. Likely to be a squad player rather than a starter, the Manchester United midfielder pops up in all the right places.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 2 caps, 0 goals
The Chelsea loanee may have had an injury hit campaign with Crystal Palace, but when he’s been fit, he’s been excellent. Strong on the ball and technically good, he will be asked to step up at the World Cup.
Raheem Sterling – 23 – 37 caps, 2 goals
Sterling has looked a man reborn at times this season, his displays for Manchester City scintillating, while he has added goals to his repertoire, scoring as many times as he did in his entire Liverpool career.
Marcus Rashford – 20 – 17 caps, 2 goals
The young forward burst onto the scene before Euro 2016, scoring on his international debut against Australia. Since then he has established himself for England and played over 100 games for Manchester United. A core part of the squad if not a guaranteed starter.
Harry Kane – 24 – 23 caps, 12 goals
When Harry Kane started scoring for Tottenham, everyone thought the goals would just dry up. But they’re still raining in. He’s passed 100 league goals for Tottenham already after another 30 this season and is a contender for the golden boot at the World Cup.
Jamie Vardy – 31 – 21 caps, 7 goals
If Kane breaks down, Vardy is the man who can step into his shoes. The Leicester City forward is a feel-good story, having risen up through the leagues from non-league to the very top. A pacey and inventive forward, he makes a great impact sub.
Danny Welbeck – 27 – 37 caps, 15 goals
The Arsenal forward has never been the most prolific at club level but has an ability to turn it on for England. His work rate and ability to play on the flank as well as upfront counted in his favour.
Southgate has named a 5 man strong standby list. The names are:
Tom Heaton – The Burnley captain is the 4th choice goalkeeper now, with 75 cap Joe Hart dropping to 5th choice.
James Tarkowski – The former Brentford and Oldham defender almost made the plane after a superb season at the heart of Burnley’s defence.
Jake Livermore – The West Brom midfielder earns his spot on the standby list as cover for Dier and Henderson.
Lewis Cook – Former u21 captain, made his debut against Italy. Tenacious in the tackle and strong on the ball.
Adam Lallana – Unfortunate with injury, Southgate would have loved to have a fully fit Lallana available. But lack of game time has pushed Lingard ahead of him.
Southgate warned us that there wouldn’t be many surprises and he stuck to his word. That meant no spot for the youngsters Ryan Sessegnon (who lit up the Championship with Fulham) or Jadon Sancho (who has been steadily improving for Borussia Dortmund). There were also no spots for experienced goalkeeper Joe Hart, midfield schemers Jack Wilshere and Jonjo Shelvey, or Southampton left back Ryan Bertrand.