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World Cup 2018: Who Should Be In The England Squad?

- 10:03, 25th March 2018
England players celebrate scoring a goal

Picking the England squad for previous major tournaments has often been a by the numbers affair with the likes of the 'Golden Generation' being guaranteed their spots on the plane.

However, a distinct lack of star power looks to have left coach Gareth Southgate with some tough decisions to make when it comes to naming his 23-man travelling party.

With the exception of Harry Kane, questions remain over who deserves to get the nod across the rest of the squad.

Every England fan has their opinion on who should be going to Russia and we are no different. Having cast our eye over the list of options in the wake of Friday's win over the Netherlands, now seems like a good time to suggest who does and who doesn't deserve to pull on the famous white jersey at the World Cup.

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The only name probably on Southgate's team sheet for the tournament opener against Tunisia on June 18 is Tottenham's Kane, providing he's fit. Kane is arguably England's only world class player, netting 35 times this season.

Providing support/cover for Kane should be Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford, and that’s it. The rest of the strikers available to England have not performed well enough or can't stay fit. Here's looking at you, Daniel Sturridge.

With Raheem Sterling able to play through the middle in an emergency and doubts elsewhere in the squad, Southgate should be taking just the three recognised strikers to Russia.

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Choosing who plays behind the England frontline is where things start to get tough for Southgate. The form of Sterling surely makes him a lock for a starting spot, while maverick Alli's link with Kane will likely see him get in the team.

Depending on if he gets the captain's armband, Jordan Henderson will likely play in central midfield alongside one of Eric Dier or Jack Wilshere, depending on the latter's fitness.

The supporting cast makes for less than inspiring reading. Has Jake Livermore really done enough to go to the World Cup? I'd say no and give some younger players the chances.

Jesse Lingard should surely play a big role for England given his form in front of goal for Manchester United, scoring 12 times this season.

Lewis Cook has been excellent for Bournemouth, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek demonstrated he could have a bright future during the November friendlies.

You could even make a case for World Cup-winner Phil Foden. England have a habit of taking chances on youngsters and the Man City starlet has the makings of becoming an international regular.

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Finally, we come to the backline, where the situation has changed dramatically since last summer. It looked like Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Michael Keane were destined to go to the World Cup just a matter of months ago but now can’t get in the squad.

Manchester City’s John Stones is the only named pencilled, not penned, on the team sheet, while Harry Maguire’s form for Leicester makes him a strong candidate.

Southgate’s decision to switch formations for the Netherlands friendly makes it tough to predict who could play in defence, although the use of wing-backs would suit Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand if they are selected.

In goal it seems to be a case of anyone other than Joe Hart. The clamour for Burnley’s Nick Pope, who had not played a Premier League game before this season, to go to Russia is growing all the time.

Why not go one step further and start Pope? Rivals Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford only have six and three caps respectively, while the 25-year-old also has a better save percentage over his England rivals, on a par with David de Gea.

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