We’ve been wondering who will be in the spotlight in Russia for months, and now we have the answers; Southgate has named the 23-man World Cup squad that will represent England in less than two weeks, as well as four players who will be on standby. And while we had no doubt that some key players would be included in the squad, some of Southgate's picks have led to a couple of surprises.
According to Southgate, the squad consists of a good balance of experienced players and youngsters with “character”:
“It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance”, Southgate has explained,
“We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop.”
Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore, Adam Lallana.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane, the leading goalscorer in the last four Premier League seasons, has been chosen to captain the team, and there had been no doubt about his inclusion in the World Cup squad from the very beginning. However, there has been disappointment and surprise at the exclusion of players like Ryan Bertrand and Joe Hart even from the standby list. Southgate has explained these difficult decisions as follows:
“With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season.
“Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season but I just felt the others were ahead of him.”
It looks like the decisions have been taken based on players' recent performances and that Southgate's aim has been to strike a balance between experience and youth within the squad. Now, we can only wait and see how the players will perform in Russia, and hope that England will progress and make it to the top teams this 2018, if not to the very top (Kane, after all, is confident that there's a good chance!). If you already have a hunch about the winner, don't forget to place your bet before the World Cup kicks off, since you can now benefit from a couple of great World Cup promotions if you bet on the Outright winner now!
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