With Russia 2018 now less than 6 months away, Gareth Southgate must have a pretty good idea about the England World Cup squad. There are, however, a few last spots up for grabs, especially within the starting line-up. Here are 5 players to look out for over the coming months.
The timing of Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barcelona could be perfect for England. Jürgen Klopp is unlikely to replace the Brazilian during this transfer window, which means that Lallana has at least a 5-month stretch as Liverpool’s first-choice playmaker. He’s not yet back to full form and fitness but once he is, Lallana will be the creative link between the midfield and the front three. That’s exactly the role that Gareth Southgate wants Lallana to play for England in Russia.
Right now, Jesse Lingard has overtaken Rashford as Manchester United’s Golden Boy. Lingard is on fire, with 8 goals in his last 10 matches. Rashford, on the other hand, has only scored 4 Premier League goals all season. He’ll make the England World Cup squad, but his chances of grabbing a starting spot look increasingly unlikely. Perhaps Southgate has always planned to use Rashford as an impact sub. Rashford has 6 months to prove that he’s better than that.
England’s Number 1 shirt is certainly still up for grabs. Joe Hart doesn’t even get into West Ham’s starting line-up anymore, while Fraser Foster is having a nightmare season at Southampton. That leaves young Jordan Pickford and unlucky Jack Butland. Butland looks to be the favourite, but right now he’s very low on confidence at struggling Stoke City. Hopefully, the new manager will sure up the Stoke defence and get Butland back to his best.
It hasn’t been an easy 18 months for Rose. First a horrible injury, then some controversial comments, and now a battle for the left-back spot for both club and country. For Tottenham, Ben Davies has proved that he’s better than just a back-up. For England, Ryan Bertrand has showed that he’s more than capable to start. Can Rose rise above his competitors? We’ll have to wait and see.
Back in August, it was Holgate’s Everton teammate Michael Keane who was gunning for the England World Cup squad. Have things changed since then? Perhaps. After impressing with the England Under-21s last summer, Holgate is now impressing as Big Sam’s first-choice centre-back at Everton. Along with John Stones and Joe Gomez, he represents the new breed of defender – quick, composed and confident on the ball. If Southgate wants to play a back three, Holgate could be the wildcard option.