Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

England ENG 2

Sweden SWE 0

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Russia RUS 2 (3)

Croatia CRO 2 (4)

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France FRA 1

Belgium BEL 0

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England ENG 1

Croatia CRO 2

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Belgium BEL 2

England ENG 0

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France FRA 4

Croatia CRO 2

Full Time

Southgate excited by youthful England squad for Russia

By Simon Peach

Gareth Southgate believes this is an England squad to be "excited about" after plumping for promise rather than experience with a bold World Cup selection.

Uncapped Trent Alexander-Arnold was celebrating a maiden senior call-up yesterday but Adam Lallana, Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere miss out.

Midfielder Lallana is a favourite of Southgate, yet managing just one league start in an injury-disrupted season means the 30-year-old had to settle with a stand-by place alongside Jake Livermore, Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook.

While Lallana is the most notable omission, uncapped Reds team-mate Alexander-Arnold is the most striking inclusion.

An impressive performer in Liverpool's run to the Champions League final, the 19-year-old briefly trained with Southgate's side in March and has now been named in the senior squad for the first time.

"I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about," manager Southgate said.

"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.

"We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession and I think people can see the style of play we've been looking to develop.

"The selection process has been over months really, it's not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.

"The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it's not just because they are young, it's because their performances deserve it.

"We've also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us."

Southgate has made 12 changes to the squad from Euro 2016, showing his desire build a group capable of providing long-term success - even if it means experienced players miss out.

Most players will kick-off their World Cup preparations on Monday, although Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool players will get time off after their respective finals.

England have warm-up friendlies against Nigeria on June 2 and Costa Rica on June 7.

Belfast Telegraph

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