FOOTBALL

OPINION: Who should be on the plane for England?

England can be criticised for unimaginative and uninspiring team selection in tournaments gone by. A favourite critique “He’s only in the team because he plays for a big club” often seemingly ringing true in some respects however could this be the tournament where Gareth Southgate imposes his vision on the national set up.

No longer should fans have to sit through a thoroughly average game against supposed weaker opposition and see a lack of desire from the team, players such as Joe Hart called up relentlessly despite any lack of form domestically to speak of.

Players from top six clubs picked to fill out the squad are wasted space over those who have performed in the Premier League consistently throughout the season though garnered no attention as the fight for European football meant the spotlight was elsewhere.

This summer is the biggest footballing stage and it’s about time to bring in a newer generation of English footballers that could change the national team for the better.

 

Who’s Definitely In?

Manchester City might be walking to an easy Premier League title win but the manner in which they’ve played has been sublime. Although England won’t quite be playing a Guardiola-esque style of football, Raheem Sterling has looked far more confident under Pep this season than ever before and could be a crucial attacking player come June.

John Stones has developed nicely also, his technical ability might not be fully refined just yet but he can be a key player in the England defence. Alongside Kyle Walker, City have fixed their defensive frailties and been deadly on and off the ball.

Tottenham Hotspur currently are the leaders in terms of having players that will make the World Cup squad. Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Dele Alli, and Danny Rose all have prior international experience and Kieran Trippier is hardly an inexperienced footballer alongside his teammates. They should all be on the list.

Marcus Rashford showed just how good he can be against rivals Liverpool. His two goals from the wing were enough for Jose Mourinho’s side to take the three points but Rashford can double as a striking option also, his flexibility as a player then can be very valuable in tournament play. Teammate Jesse Lingard has starred at points this season also. Scoring vital goals such as his effort against Chelsea have put Manchester United in a firm second place.

Jamie Vardy‘s goal against West Brom was one of the goals of the season. Vision to make the initial run, strength to hold his marker off and technique to volley the ball across the goal into the side netting. A fantastic effort that reminds you just how good Vardy can be. A different kind of striker for England that could win games when nothing is seemingly on the cards.

 

Who Should be In?

Nick Pope

The Burnley goalkeeper has come in for an injured Tom Heaton early in the season and has since made himself a mainstay in the starting eleven. He has kept his team in games countless times. You could bring up the fact that he has no international experience but that is more down to unimaginative team selection during friendly squad selection over a lack of ability and form. I believe he is one keeper who should definitely be in with a shout of going to Russia and possibly even starting should he continue to perform at a high level.

 

James Tarkowski & Ben Mee

More Burnley players however you can’t argue they don’t deserve to be in with a chance of getting a call up. Sean Dyche has his team digging in and earning results nobody thought they could and the fact that people are questioning whether they could beat Arsenal to sixth is all you need to know about how good they have been. Tarkowski and Men have been crucial to their performances this season.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

This one is obviously dependent on Loftus-Cheek regaining full fitness and working his way back into the team but it’s something he should be very capable of. A Crystal Palace team that can be accused of lacking bite up top, Loftus-Cheek was exactly what the team needed in midfield early on in the season, his energy and technical ability could keep them up and definitely puts him in contention for an international call up.

 

Who Shouldn’t Be In?

Joe Hart

He isn’t among the top three English goalkeepers in the league. His ‘over-enthusiasm’ before the game against Iceland a criticism upon self-reflection but is something that should never be happening considering his international and club experience. Poor performances all season but there is a niggling thought that he will go anyway.


Harry Maguire

Not the season he might have wished for in a World Cup year. He has been fairly error prone since the beginning of the season and although he has been improving, there are better and more consistent options out there for Gareth Southgate.

Ross Barkley

His move to Chelsea hasn’t been a revival of any sort for Ross Barkley. Manager Antonio Conte maintaining that the midfielder isn’t fully fit or match ready yet and he is seriously lacking game time so far this season. When he has made the odd cameo appearance for the current champions, he has looked out of sorts and a level below where you’d expect him to be. A wasted seat on the plane if he is selected.

Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge hasn’t been the same clinical striker he used to be alongside Luis Suarez. One could even argue his game was elevated a level above playing alongside the Uruguayan that alone he cannot replicate. Fitness issues and lack of game time surely eliminates the Liverpool man from contention to go to Russia.

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