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I received notification of the England squad for Russia via a personalised tweet from Team England - a great marketing strategy to engage fans.

Who’s in?  

  • Goalkeepers
    • Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley).
  • Defenders

    • Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Kyle Walker, John Stones (Manchester City), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Phil Jones, Ashley Young (Manchester United).
  • Midfielders

    • Eric Dier, Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).
  • Forwards

    • Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) Harry Kane (Tottenham).
  • Standby

    • Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski (Burnley), Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Jake Livermore (West Brom) and Adam Lallana (Liverpool).

Tottenham has provided the most players to the squad (five), with Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane all in. 

Who didn’t make the cut? 

Goalkeeper Joe Hart (West Ham United) and midfielder Jack Wilshere (Arsenal) have not been included.

There’s also no room on the plane for Chris Smalling (Manchester United defender), Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle midfielder) and Adam Lallana (Liverpool midfielder, who was arguably one of England’s best players in Brazil in 2014) only making the standby list. 

Any surprises? 

Some might say, the 19-year-old Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is a surprise given he has zero caps and is young. However, Trent performed exceptionally well as a right full back in Liverpool’s recent Champions League campaign, even when coming up against some of the world’s best forwards. Trent definitely played an integral role in helping Liverpool reach the Champions League Final, so England fans like me will be hoping he can put on similar performances in Russia. 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea) who has been on loan to Crystal Palace will also get on the plane to Russia. England fans around the world will be hoping he can add some creative flair to the English midfield in the absence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who misses out through injury. 

Gareth Southgate summarised his selections much as any coach would. 

“I believe this is a squad we can be excited about. 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.”

For Ashley Young, it’s definitely a dream come true.

Marcus Rashford also took to twitter to break the news to his mum! 

How far can England go? 

England are in Group G at the World Cup and kick off against Tunisia on 18 June, before facing Panama on 24 June and Belgium on 28 June.

England play two home friendlies before they head out to Russia, against Nigeria at Wembley on 2 June and Costa Rica at Elland Road on 7 June.

Gareth Southgate will be managing England at a major tournament for the first time, with a largely inexperienced, youthful squad. I think most England fans will therefore be predicting the usual quarter-final round as the likely end point.

However, this would be better than 2014 where, under Roy Hodgson, England crashed out at the group stage after losing to Italy and Uruguay and only managing a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica when there was nothing to play for. England also suffered a humiliating last 16 exit at the hands of Iceland two years ago at Euro 2016. 

I hope the media eases off with their usual ‘England are going to win the World Cup’ themed headlines and that Southgate finds a strategy to manage the youth and inexperience in the squad. There’s no denying that all England fans secretly dream that they will see the team lift the trophy.  However, after so many years of hurt, I also think England fans will be relatively happy if they see performances that the nation can be proud of. After all, it’s quite likely that we’ll see a lot of these players in Qatar in 2022, and perhaps Southgate's selections are part of a longer-term strategy. Let’s hope so. 

So, come on Eng-er-land! Let’s go. We really are going to win the World Cup, aren’t we?!    

Categories: News | World Cup

2018 world cup, england, #russia2018

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