That’s it. All the warm-up games are now done and although England are now six without a win, the waves of positivity returned briefly last night as Gareth Southgate’s side stuck three past Germany. That ended their goalscoring drought, but these two matches have also nailed down the preferred 5-2-3 formation and several starters for the World Cup. Below we’ve plucked out and discussed those that should be in the starting XI against Iran.
Absolutely no doubt about this one. His place was already secure given his performances over the last two years for club and country, but Nick Pope’s displays did nothing to enhance his chances of leapfrogging the Everton man. England’s number one.
One of England’s standout performers against Germany has now nailed down the right wing-back starting role. He’s had a strong start to the season and has now fought off fierce competition from his rivals to become a trustworthy and exciting option for Southgate.
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The Manchester City man performed well before going off injured against Germany, but if he gets regular gametime at his club, there is no doubt he will be starting at the World Cup. England’s weakest position is centre-back, but given his past performances and ability, Stones is at the front of the queue. Eric Dier has also enjoyed a strong international break to confirm his place on the plane, but he isn’t in the starting XI just yet.
A man who has lost his Manchester United place will have to be patient at club level, but it was clear as day how much better England are with him in the side. Part of this is the lack of depth at left-back, but just having a natural left footer on that side allows the Three Lions to attack with more fluidity. Unless Chilwell shines for Chelsea, Shaw should retain this position heading to Qatar.
Fairly simple. Rice has been superb for club and country for well over a year and the West Ham captain is integral to this England team. Now becoming more of a leader, he is a vital voice in the heart of midfield. He will play a key role, especially when you consider the man likely to start next to him is still a teenager.
The man who made the biggest impression over the two matches. He may only be 19, but he was phenomenal and has now shown Southgate exactly what he can do. He was key as England dragged themselves back from the brink and consistently played forward when others looked to play it safe. With Kalvin Phillips out, Bellingham has well and truly seized his opportunity.
Sterling continues to shine with the Three Lions on his chest. Now at Chelsea he is almost guaranteed consistent gametime while Southgate knows exactly what he will get for him. There’s plenty of competition for those attacking places as Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka have proved, but Sterling is still first choice.
Golden Ball winner from 2018. England captain. Now with 50 goals to his name and closing in on Wayne Rooney’s record. He will be leading the line for England in Qatar, and leading a dressing room that needs to unite.