Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Football

England boss Gareth Southgate to name World Cup squad on May 16

The Three Lions manager wants to have his plans in place before preparatory friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica.

Gareth Southgate will name England’s 2018 World Cup squad on Wednesday, with hopefuls finding out their fates well before the official deadline.

After a privately-submitted long list of 35 is handed in on Monday, FIFA do not require finalised squads until June 4.

Southgate, though, wants to have his plans in place before preparatory friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica and will announce his 23-man group on May 16.

Most of the squad has been set in stone for some time but the final few places will have taxed Southgate in recent weeks.

Southgate has some big calls to make

Jack Wilshere has not played for the Three Lions since their defeat to Iceland at Euro 2016 but a more prominent role for Arsenal has thrown him back into the conversation, particularly with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out injured.

Southgate handed Wilshere a golden chance to stake his claim in the March get together but he pulled out of games against Holland and Italy and concerns over the midfielder’s fitness, rather than his finesse, could settle the issue.

If Wilshere misses the cut, or has to settle for a place among the five standby call-ups, that could be good news for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

The Chelsea player, who has spent the season on loan at Crystal Palace, turned in a man-of-the-match performance on debut against Germany in November and despite never playing a competitive senior international he has huge experience at age-group level.

Jack Wilshere's last England appearance came against Iceland at Euro 2016

Liverpool’s uncapped full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has also been under consideration after helping the Reds to the Champions League final.

Kyle Walker is locked down either at right-back or in a central three, with Kieran Trippier his established understudy.

The Tottenham defender has picked up a knee problem at just the wrong time, though, and Walker’s impressive performances in a back three last time out plays well for Alexander-Arnold.

At left wing-back Ashley Young and Danny Rose remain best placed, despite challengers including Luke Shaw, Aaron Cresswell and Fulham prospect Ryan Sessegnon.

Ryan Sessegnon

Joe Gomez might well have offered cover across the back line but he is out after ankle surgery.

Adam Lallana is another Liverpool player with question marks over his condition but, despite a campaign wrecked by injury, he has always been a trusted performer in England colours and a steady outing against Brighton on Sunday might be enough to settle any concerns.

Fabian Delph is versatile and a title winner with Manchester City but is yet to feature under the current regime.

In defence John Stones, Phil Jones and Harry Maguire are all inked in, with Burnley’s James Tarkowski potentially going head to head with the more seasoned Gary Cahill. The latter was a regular throughout qualifying, as well as a recent captain, but was surprisingly ditched by Southgate in March.

John Stones, left, and Kyle Walker

The England boss has also taken to naming four goalkeepers in recent squads but will have to settle on three for Russia.

Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland will be two, with Joe Hart highly likely to see off the challenge of Nick Pope.

Clarets stopper Pope has been a revelation since stepping in for the injured Tom Heaton in September but Southgate has assessed Hart’s attitude and believes the long-time number one can still play a leadership role even if he travels as third choice.

England face Nigeria at Wembley on June 2 and Costa Rica at Elland Road on June 7 before departing for Russia.

They kick-off their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on June 18 in Volgograd and also face Panama and Belgium in the group stage.


From Belfast Telegraph