ENGLAND manager Gareth Southgate had a number of tough decisions to make before naming his 23-man World Cup squad.
The rookie boss helped guide his Lions to the top spot in their qualifying group – where they finished with eight wins from ten games. However, the former Middlesbrough captain is yet to face his toughest challenge, manoeuvring through the group stage of the World Cup proper and putting up a strong fight in Russia.
England fans expect the best from international tournaments, so the pressure is on. And Southgate wasted little time in naming his full 23-man squad who will square-off against Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.
Here at Bonus Code Bets, we’re delighted to take you through the England squad players that are ready to try their hand at winning the big one that has eluded them since 1966.
Jordan Pickford is expected to grab hold of the No.1 spot for the Three Lions. The Everton stopper had a terrific season between the sticks for the Toffees and was a standout at the back in a defence that shipped 58 league goals.
Nick Pope is also part of the squad having been part of Burnley’s incredible season where they finished seventh – and in a Europa League qualifying rounds spot.
Jack Butland makes up the three keepers and – despite Stoke City’s relegation – was a shining light in their drab season.
Manchester City defenders John Stones and Kyle Walker are deservedly part of the squad having cruised to the Premier League title with their club this season.
Harry McGuire of Leicester City and Gary Cahill are among the other defenders to be part of Southgate’s backline.
Danny Rose had a decent season with Tottenham despite an awkward transfer saga that loomed over his head towards the end of the campaign and makes the squad. Teammate Kieran Trippier will also board the plane to Russia.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is perhaps a surprise inclusion but the exciting young defender has played out of his skin for Liverpool in their journey to the Champions League final and more than deserves the opportunity to shine for his country.
Ashley Young and Phil Jones from Manchester United also made the cut.
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is a player who divides opinions. But one thing to be said for Hendo is that he always gives everything. A much-improved player in the last few seasons.
Fabian Delph could be a shrewd choice by Southgate as the Man City ace can double as a left-back if need be.
Eric Dier and Dele Alli have shown in the past they are both capable of shining for England with some vitally important goals in qualifying and in previous tournaments.
Raheem Sterling also seems a player reborn under club boss Pep Guardiola at Man City. The rapid winger has been heavily criticised for his performances at the Etihad before Guardiola walked in the door but has since become a key player for the Spaniard, scoring plenty of important goals for his side. He has the potential to be a huge player for England if Southgate uses him correctly.
Like Alexander-Arnold, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is a shock call-up. More of a risk than his defensive teammate, the on-loan Chelsea player did relatively well at Crystal Palace. The Eagles did well to avoid the relegation battle towards the end of the season but Loftus-Cheek wasn’t even the star-man in THAT squad. Will be interesting to see how much the 22-year-old plays at the World Cup – if at all.
If we are honest with ourselves, most of the burden will be placed upon Spurs forward Harry Kane’s shoulders. And it’s no wonder. The striker has scored 45 goals in all competitions this season and broke all sorts of records. If England are to have any real chance of progressing strongly in the competition, they’re certainly going to need Kane firing on all cylinders.
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford is another player who, at just 20-years-old, has already shown huge promise. With the pace to compliment Kane’s natural instinct and ability, the pair could be a potent partnership if Southgate fancies teaming them up together.
Another speedster is Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy. The frontman netted 24 goals in 47 games this campaign and could also provide a good foil for Kane to work with.
Jesse Lingard has developed into a top talent at Man United, often keeping France internationalist Anthony Martial out of the lineup at Old Trafford. Whether he plays up-top or just off a front-two, you can expect trickery and intelligence on the pitch from the 25-year-old.
Finally, Arsenal target man Danny Welbeck is another relative surprise in the 23-man squad, having bagged just 11 goals this season. Despite not shining for the Gunners, he does have 15 goals from 37 caps and provides a wealth of experience at international level.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart will have been shocked at his omission from the squad on the basis that he has been England’s No.1 for a number of years. But his lack of form for West Ham has led to him surrendering his jersey. Still, he would have been heartbroken at seeing the final squad list without his name on it.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be cursing his luck at his injury that has kept him out of the running for a call-up. The playmaker is a big-game player and can be relied on to pop up with important goals.
Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana are both players who have the ability to do the business for their country but with their form so inconsistent at club level – as well as their injury-prone tags – Gareth Southgate may have made a shrewd decision to leave them at home.
As discussed already, Burnley have had one of their greatest ever seasons. And this is in no small part down to the next player who could, and arguably SHOULD have made the plane for Russia. James Tarkowski has been influential at the back of the Turf Moor park and has shown an ability many would not have believed him to have at the beginning of the season. Now reportedly a transfer target for Liverpool, the defender may not have a better chance to don the Three Lions after a brilliant campaign.
Finally, despite his recent international allegiance switch to Ivory Coast, arguably one of the most in-form players towards the end of the season was Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha. The star single-handedly kept the Eagles in the Premier League with his massive goals – and Gareth Southgate will be kicking himself for losing out on the wing wizard.