Posted on May 15th, 2018
England play Tunisia in the opening game of their World Cup Russia 2018 campaign. Kick-off is on Monday 18th June at the Volgograd Arena. With the competition looming, Southgate will be keeping a close eye on the players as they play their final games of the domestic season. Who will he choose for his final squad, and who will make an appearance in the first Group G game?
England really need to put in a solid performance this year. They have only reached the semifinals twice since winning the competition in 1966, and the last time they were only in contention for 8 days, which was their shortest ever attempt. This year they have 14/1 World Cup odds of winning and are realistically expected to reach the quarterfinals.
Gareth Southgate has yet to confirm his final selection for the tournament but is set to reveal his provisional squad of 35 players in time for Monday, 14th May. A few days later, shortly after the conclusion of the Premier League, Southgate is expected to narrow this number down to a provisional squad of 28 players, in order to relieve tension for those involved. The FIFA deadline for the final selection of 23 players is on 4th June, 10 days before the World Cup starts.
Until the final selection is made, it’s difficult to know for sure who will make the cut. At this point, though, speculation is possible, and certain players can be ruled out. Liverpool duo Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain are both out with injuries and won’t be on the plane to Russia. It’s looking unlikely that Chelsea defender and England ex-skipper Gary Cahill will make the first team defence.
Former Manchester United player and current BT Sports Analyst Owen Hargreaves, who had 42 England caps in his 13-year-long career, recently named his side for Tunisia. He chose Jordan Pickford in goal, a decision that seems likely. His back three were John Stones, Phil Jones and Harry Maguire, with Kyle Walker playing an RWB role and Danny Rose playing LWB.
In midfield, Hargreaves selected Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson as the winning combination in CM, with Raheem Sterlin on the right wing and Dele Ali on the left. Harry Kane will be centre forward in this formation, although he receives strong support from the wingers.
The bookies have tended to give better odds for Kyle Walker playing in CB, with Kieran Trippier playing the RWB position. Raheem Sterling and Dele Ali could also play more central attacking midfield roles. Rashford could also play on the left wing, but it’s more likely that he will be used as a weapon off the bench.
England have yet to play friendlies against Nigeria at Wembley, and against Costa Rica at Elland Road, so manager Garther Southgate will have plenty of time to experiment with formations before selecting his final team of 23 players on 4th June. England play Tunisia in their first group game, followed by matches against Panama on 24th June and Belgium on 28th June. Of these, Belgium are expected to be their strongest competition by far. Let’s hope that Southgate chooses the right men for the job. Who do you think will make the final England team?