How Will England Line Up In Their World Cup Opener Against Tunisia?
Gareth Southgate has, this afternoon, announced the 23-man squad that he’ll take with him east for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
News emerged as early as yesterday that high profile contenders Jack Wilshere and Joe Hart have missed out and so it proved, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Nick Pope two less-fancied picks who’ve done enough to book themselves a seat on the Airbus.
Liverpool's precocious defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is the most head-turning inclusion; the 19-year-old is yet to be handed his first cap.
Now that the ink is dry on the announcement, collective thoughts turn towards the on the 18th of next month in the Volgograd Arena, where the Three Lions will play Tunisia in the opening game of their campaign. How will Gareth Southgate organise his troops ahead of the curtain raiser?
We’ve taken a stab at predicting the lineup and acted under the assumption that Southgate will play something like the 3-4-2-1 shape he’s favoured of late.
Assuming Southgate goes with three centre-halves, Phil Jones is fancied to slot into the middle of the trio, with John Stones on his left.
Kyle Walker might be deployed at the right-handed member of the three, as he was during England’s narrow 1-0 over the Netherlands in March.
Trent Alexander-Arnold makes the squad but he’d be a longshot to start; the more experienced Kieran Trippier is fancied.
The old head and competitive nature of Ashley Young is likely to win out on the opposite side.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is nailed on for a spot here, with his leadership qualities important to his national side’s ambitions.
Eric Dier is one potential partner for him in the engine room and that would certainly give the team a solid base to build from.
With two attacking midfield spots on the line with, and Raheem Sterling thought to be another near-certain pick for one of them, that leaves a hole to be filled.
Dele Alli is favoured ahead of Jesse Lingaard, with his ingenuity being a tool that Southgate might need to breakdown the Tunisian rearguard.
Potential captain Harry Kane comes off the back of another fruitful campaign in front of goal for Tottenham and he is, of course, set to start here.
He could be replaced for the legs of Jamie Vardy late on.
Pickford; Walker, Stones, Jones; Trippier, Henderson, Dier, Young; Sterling, Alli; Kane.