The Premier League season is drawing to a close which means that we can turn our attentions to the fast-approaching World Cup. But before the festivities begin all of the nations must decide on the 23 players which they are taking with them to Russia, for some countries the players select themselves but for others, such as England, the options are writhe and opinion splitting. As it has been announced that Gareth Southgate will be announcing his squad early next week, I thought it would be appropriate that I give my input on who I would take and why.
*all selections were fit and available as of 12th May 2018
Much of the season has been dominated by talk of whether or not Joe Hart would be on the plane to Russia, well in my ideal world he is not, but here’s who is…
Jordan Pickford (Everton FC)
He burst on to the scene last season with Sunderland, which earned him a big money move to Everton where he hasn’t set the world alight with his performances, but I feel he has done enough to merit the Number 1 shirt.
Jack Butland (Stoke FC)
Everyone has always had the impression that Jack Butland would have the number 1 jersey for the next 10 years uncontested but this season as part of the relegated Stoke side he has raised a few question marks about his game. There are no doubts around his ability but is he really as good as he was once touted to be.
Nick Pope (Burnley FC)
If you would’ve told Nick Pope that he would have been in Burnley’s number 1 this season I doubt he would’ve believed you, never mind being in contention for a world cup place. What a remarkable campaign he has had and although I don’t see him taking any part in the proceedings in Russia he is a more viable option that Joe Hart in my opinion.
England have never really had a shortage of good solid defenders, but this crop doesn’t come anywhere near the likes of Terry, Ferdinand, Neville etc.
John Stones (Manchester City)
Although prone to lapses in concentration from time to time, Stones is the best Centre Half that we have, and he is likely to have a huge part to play in how well we do in Russia, particularly if Southgate opts for a 3 at the back system.
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
One of the few guaranteed selections, he has been far and above the best premier league right backs for the past couple of seasons, but I personally would deploy him as the right sided Centre Half of the 3 much like in the recent friendlies.
Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
If Southgate picks based on form rather than names, then it would be absurd to not at least have Maguire in the 23. At 6’5 he is able to physically cope man to man, but he is also able to carry the ball out from the back, a trait that Southgate looks for in his defenders.
Phil Jones (Manchester United)
A more likely option to his club team mate Smalling as he is more comfortable on the ball, but he is very much hot and cold so will need to be at the top of his game to earn a starting berth in Russia.
Jamaal Lascelles (Newcastle United)
I cannot see why more people aren’t considering the Newcastle skipper, coming off the back of a great season I believe he would be a valued asset in this side. The only reason I can see Southgate looking elsewhere is his lack of experience in a system like this.
Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
I much prefer to see Dier deployed in defence as opposed to midfield as sometimes I feel the game can pass him by as he is not the most technically gifted. But in a back line with Stones and Walker this defence could be very, very strong.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool FC)
There is a risk that this tournament may be slightly too early for Trent and that Southgate may opt for Trippier instead. But he has proven this season that he can play on the biggest stage and play very well at that. He does however have a mistake or two in him but what more can you expect from a 19-year-old still learning his trade.
Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur)
He is only just coming back from a long layoff, but I think his return may just have come at the right time. His style is perfectly suited to this system and he poses a very dangerous threat in a more attacking left hand sided position.
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Young has been revitalised by Mourinho admittedly at the expense of Luke Shaw, but he has showed this season how dangerous he can be going forward, and he has also added a great defensive side to his game. It’ll be interesting to see who starts between him and Rose.
The Premier League has been inundated with midfielders that usually wouldn’t be considered but have given Southgate a selection headache due to their strong performances and the usual candidates just not delivering.
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool FC)
He may not be of the calibre of Gerrard and Lampard but I do think Henderson sometimes receives more criticism than is actually deserved. He goes about his business quietly but efficiently.
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Hasn’t quite got up to the levels of the past couple of seasons but hasn’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination, the numbers that he boasts at club level for his age are staggering. He probably has the most amount of raw ability in the squad and could have a huge tournament.
Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
Not a name I thought I would be choosing but this season he has shown how dependable he is, which is a great trait to have in a squad, he can fill in and do a job if the worst happens.
Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
He has shown glimpses of quality this season and could be a good impact sub to have. He always seems to produce that little bit extra when he puts on that England shirt, a great squad player to have.
Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United)
Has always been on the peripheries of the England set up but one thing or another always seems to let him down. He finally seems to be growing into his role at Newcastle and he has seemingly improved his disciplinary record whilst maintaining that aggression which combined makes him into a very good central midfielder. His passing range can be matched by very few in the Premier League.
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
As a Liverpool fan I have been hoping that Sterling never comes into any kind of form but this season he has done just that, Guardiola has really brought the best out of him this term. His directness will be a real asset but we need to hope he can take the chances put in front of him.
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal FC)
The injury to Oxlade-Chamberlain has forced my hand with Wilshere. He has had a very average season with Arsenal and I am not actually sure what is his best position is but as a squad player he will do no harm, I can see him coming on as a sub against lesser opponents who park the bus and hope that he can perhaps provide the spark.
England don’t have an illustrious list of forwards, this is epitomised by numerous people suggesting that Andy Carroll be selected…
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
I think this one selects itself really, Harry Kane scores goals. Hopefully he isn’t on set piece duty this time around but we all know what Harry Kane is about by now and hopefully he takes his shooting boots with him to Russia.
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)
Another strong campaign from Vardy has put him in good stead for a seat on the plane, I think Kane’s hold up play and him playing on the last man could be a fruitful combination. Usually has a good time in an England shirt.
Danny Welbeck (Arsenal FC)
Another player who I didn’t think I would be opting for, but his performances recently have showed that he can be a threat when he is on song. I don’t think he will start but he’s a good option off the bench for his directness and energy levels.
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
His meteoric rise seems to have slowed just slightly but he is still capable of the brilliance that caught all of our attention just 2 years ago. Playing under Mourinho has taught him that he needs to defend just as much as he needs to attack which is a reason why I would deploy him on the right-hand side, he surely has enough energy to get up and down the pitch.
STARTING 11 vs Tunisia on 18th June.
GK – JORDAN PICKFORD
RCB- KYLE WALKER
LCB- ERIC DIER
RM- MARCUS RASHFORD
LM- DANNY ROSE
CM- DELE ALLI
CM- JORDAN HENDERSON
AM- RAHEEM STERLING
ST- HARRY KANE ©
ST- JAMIE VARDY