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Football

The England Squad - how will it look?

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Wednesday 14th March 2018

The England Squad - how will it look?

The England squad - how will it look?

With Gareth Southgate set to announce his England squad on Thursday ahead of upcoming friendlies with the Netherlands and Italy, there a plenty of options as to who he could choose.

There will be plenty of regulars in the side, though with injuries and form all dictating whether some more familiar faces will feature, there could be some more surprising inclusions that the 'Three Lions' boss may want to take a closer look at ahead of the World Cup. 

Goalkeepers

England's usual first choice stopper Joe Hart has not had it easy as of late - having already had what is being widely-regarded as a disappointing season, he shipped 11 goals in his last three games between the sticks for West Ham. 

Whilst Southgate has previously supported him in the press, this is his last chance to get a close look at other options in the net for England before he makes a decision on his World Cup squad in May: Jack Butland is likely to be involved, as is Everton's Jordan Pickford. Whilst neither have pulled up trees with their club sides recently, they are two of England's more consistent performers in goal and will be as hungry as ever for the starting spot.

Whilst Hart is likely to be involved at the World Cup, this is Southgate's last chance to run the rule over Burnley's Nick Pope - the 25-year old has deputised for his club in the absence of the injured Tom Heaton, and a first call up for Pope is deserved on the back of the season he has had in Lancashire.

Predicted call-ups: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope.

Defenders

Southgate has trialled a three-man defence in the last three games England played, and the additional man in the middle helped England on their way to three consecutive clean sheets against Lithuania, Germany and Brazil. Realistically, that means five centre backs are likely to receive a call-up.

One of Southgate's more regular call-ups - Gary Cahill - is not featuring regularly for Chelsea at the moment, however as an experienced head he has a good chance of being included in the squad, as does Chris Smalling who has probably done enough in regular appearances at Manchester United to earn a recall. Harry Maguire has been a consistent performer for Leicester City this season and is emerging as one of the safest bets to be on the plane to the World Cup as far as defenders go. John Stones has not been featuring as much for Manchester City this season but has played regularly for England under Southgate, and in a three-man defence his qualities on the ball could really shine through, so he is a likely inclusion. With one more spot left for a centre back, Burnley man James Tarkowski has been a consistently solid performer at club level and there have been plenty of calls for him to get his first England cap - there is no better time than the present for that to happen. 

Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier are likely to occupy the available spots on the right side of defence, although Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez are both options at right back - the latter has also played in the middle for England. 

At left back, Ashley Young has played regularly for Manchester United on the left side of defence and received his England recall in the last set of friendlies so another appearance here is likely. It is a straight shoot-out between Ryan Bertrand and Danny Rose for the next left back spot, and with Bertrand having played more football this season then he perhaps is the more likely option here.

Predicted call-ups: Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill, James Tarkowski, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Ashley Young, Ryan Bertrand.

Midfielders

Jordan Henderson is likely to earn his England recall, as is Jack Wilshere, to take spots in the centre of the England midfield. Eric Dier should also be included in a more defensive midfield capacity, and the fact he can slot in at centre back makes him a good, versatile option for Gareth Southgate. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is enjoying his best season in recent memory and seems to have improved since joining Liverpool in the summer transfer window, and as a dynamic midfield player he should warrant inclusion. He can also feature in wider positions, so his versatility can be of great benefit to Southgate. Dele Alli is emerging as a star player at Spurs and should take on a similar role at international level - when he is fit, he is certain to be included, and the 21-year old can be a game changer on his day. 

Jesse Lingard is a likely inclusion: the 25-year old has had a good season with Manchester United and proven his quality. Lastly, Adam Lallana should join his Liverpool team mates Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain following his recent return for fitness - the 29-year old has plenty of quality to bring to the side. 

Predicted call-ups: Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Eric Dier, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Adam Lallana. 

Forwards

An injury to Harry Kane has threatened his World Cup chances, which means Jamie Vardy is the likely first choice striker in his absence for this set of friendlies at least. The Leicester City striker has 14 league goals this season and has established himself as an international-calibre centre forward and a credible replacement to Harry Kane.

Raheem Sterling has flourished this season, and his ability to play across the front line and in attacking midfield coupled with his knack for scoring important goals makes him a certain to be on the plane in the summer. Whilst his international form is yet to echo his club form, he is nailed on to be included for these friendlies. 

Young Marcus Rashford is certain to be included as well - his winning brace against Liverpool recently showed just how capable he is in front of goal, and as somebody who can play through the middle or out wide he brings more options to the England front line. Provided he is fit, he will be at the World Cup irrespective of his playing time for Manchester United between now and the end of the season, and every time he steps onto the pitch for England ahead of that will only serve him well in the future.

With room for another forward in the squad, Glenn Murray could be in line to earn his first call-up. The 34-year old is unlikely to be near the 23 that travel to Russia in the summer, but after some recent good form he could bring 'something different' to the squad for the upcoming friendlies and would offer Gareth Southgate some variety in his gameplans. 

Predicted call-ups: Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford, Glenn Murray.

Who do you think is in with a shout of an England cap in the upcoming friendlies? Who are your picks for the final 23-man squad to travel to Russia? Let us know on Twitter @TeamFa and tell us your choices! You can also check out the odds on who will make the World Cup squad over on SkyBet where you can back your dead-certs or longshots to be on the plane!

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