May 16th marked the day all England fans had been waiting for – the announcement which revealed who had made it into Gareth Southgate’s 23-man World Cup squad.
Notably Southgate has opted for a fairly young team – in fact, they are the third youngest squad to enter this year’s World Cup. A somewhat bold move it may seem from the previous England 1996 semi-finalist. However, the gaffer has supported his decision by stating “I don’t see it as a gamble and I dont think being free of inhibition is gambling.”
The announcement that Trent Alexander-Arnold made the cut brought about positive reactions from England fans. The 19-year-old has been a star performer since bursting onto the scene at such a tender age. His performances on big occasions in the Premier League and throughout Liverpool’s journey to the final in Europe have echoed the shouts that he is quickly becoming one of the Three Lions’ hottest prospects. Whether he will feature much during the World Cup is another matter, but whatever the outcome, this is invaluable experience for the right back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s meteoric rise:
25/10/16: Liverpool debut
14/12/16: Premier League debut
09/05/17: Liverpool’s Young Player of the Season
15/08/17: First Liverpool goal
10/05/18: Liverpool’s Young Player of the Season (again)
16/05/18: Named in England’s World Cup squad pic.twitter.com/0dltNJSZrV
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) May 16, 2018
Another of the less likely selections came in the name of Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The youngster impressed early on in the season after completing his loan move from Chelsea to Crystal Palace, racking up a number of assists and stringing together consistent performances in midfield. An injury midway through the season looked to have majorly dented his World Cup hopes, but clearly Southgate sees something very promising in Loftus-Cheek. It’s another optimistic choice and one which offers the English side strength, pace and bursts of energy.
5 – Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been directly involved in five PL goals this term in 24 apps (two goals, three assists), this after scoring just one goal (no assists) in his previous 22 games spanning three seasons. Buoyant. #ThreeLions pic.twitter.com/ojtQgcvaPa
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 16, 2018
Who didn’t make the plane?
The omission of Jack Wilshere came as a shock to many of us, as the Arsenal midfielder had been rekindling his form of old in the latter part of the 2017/18 campaign. Question marks had been raised by Southgate surrounding Wilshere’s fitness and lack of regular games compared to other players in his position. The competition in midfield for creative players, at least from an outside perspective, doesn’t look particularly high with this current England team, so leaving Wilshere at home came as a surprising decision.
38 – Jack Wilshere made 38 appearances in all competitions in 2017-18 (two goals, five assists), his second highest total for Arsenal after 2010-11 (49 games). Overlooked. pic.twitter.com/rDxSr4jfPp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 15, 2018
Similarly the absence of Adam Lallana wasn’t foreseen by all fans. Over the last few seasons, the Liverpool attack-minded midfielder has been highly admired for his deft touch, vast range of passing and hard work rate – traits which are unique in quality and many will feel England are missing a real player here. In fairness to Southgate, his decision wasn’t made easy due to Lallana’s proneness to injury as of late, so perhaps taking fresh legs is the safer call.
England’s 23 man squad
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Nick Pope
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, Danny Rose, Ashley Young
Midfielders: Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph
Strikers: Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck