For a change from interviews, I am going to be experimenting with other types of sport journalism for the next few weeks ahead of a possible format revamp. This is the first in a few coming up across November.
The next round of international fixtures are coming up and interim manager, Gareth Southgate faces tough decisions as to whom should be in his squad.
I am going to name the players, who deserve a call up for England’s matches vs Scotland and Spain this month in my fantasy squad.
The decision over who to call up amongst goalkeepers is Southgate’s most easiest to make.
Joe Hart is a shoo in because he is by far, our best keeper in the current era. I’m expecting him to start the Scotland and Spain matches marring any injury. He might of had some bad performances at the Euros, but that doesn’t make him unworthy of being the man in goal.
As back ups, I would name Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton because both are having exceptional campaigns with Southampton and Burnley, respectively. Forster has shown on many occasions that he can deliver in an England shirt and his height is a great help against teams that has great aerial ability. Heaton is strong in all areas but not got the quality that Forster and Hart possess. If Jack Butland wasn’t injured, he would be in ahead of Heaton for me.
The defence is going to be tough because got quality in every position. For full backs, I would call up; Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, James Miner and Nathaniel Clyne. These four are all strong on the ball and adding pace down the flanks and Milner has shone for Liverpool at left back. Southgate would be wise to keep him in that position rather than push him into midfield.
The centre back choice is the hardest of them all. My CBs would be John Stones, Gary Cahill, Eric Dier, Phil Jagielka and Ben Gibson. The first four are all experienced England players but Southgate needs to start blooding some youngsters from his U21 squad. Ben Gibson has been consistent in defence for Middlesbrough all season and deserves a shot in the national team. Gibson could benefit from this experience and has plenty of experienced defenders to learn from.
The midfield needs a major overhaul because struggling to create chances against bigger teams.
The first midfielder, who would be on my list is Andros Townsend. He might not be the best but offers tactical options out wide on the flanks. Townsend will be able to help open up the game as a substitute and the team would benefit from having him on the flanks, if they’re struggling to break the opposition down through the middle.
In central midfield, I would bring in Danny Drinkwater, Dele Alli, James Ward Prowse, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana.
Alli, Barkley, Henderson and Lallana are established England stars and have performed regularly for their clubs alongside Drinkwater, who was wrongly omitted from the Euro Squad. They are all capable of creating chances and Ward Prowse is a rising star, who has excelled centrally and on the right flank. He has earned his chance and now is the time for youngsters to be blooded into the first team.
Rooney wouldn’t be included due to a lack of games for Manchester United. Another reason for his exclusion from my squad is that as captain, he is wasting a position that could go to youngsters, who have played more games than him and have demonstrated why they deserve a shot at being in the England team.
If I was in Southgate’s shoes, I would take a plunge into the unknown and select in form scorers.
Dwight Gayle would go straight into my team alongside Tammy Abraham. Those two aren’t just in form, they’re key men for Newcastle and Bristol City respectively. The fact that they play in the Skybet Championship would serve as a serious warning to strikers in the Premier League about performances.
I would also call up Theo Walcott despite being a liability on the fitness front to add Premier League experience. He has had 28 shots on goal so far this season, making him a worthy pick because he can take chances at goal. Raheem Sterling would be my last pick because he can play on the flanks as well as a lone striker.
Sterling and Townsend provide formation options because could theoretically start with a 4-2-3-1 then bring on Townsend and switch to a 4-3-3 if desperately chasing a result with Sterling and Townsend on flanks alongside the central forward. The attacking midfielder could drop into the midfield and bolster the attack going forward alongside the two defensive midfielders.
I have used Lineup Builder to demonstrate my point about how Townsend could benefit the formation as a sub.
There would be no room for Daniel Sturridge or Marcus Rashford. Sturridge hasn’t played enough games for my liking and is a liability on the injury front meaning that taking him even when fit is a risk in itself.
In regards to Rashford, he is young and it will be better to protect his England career in the long term so I would drop him into the U21 squad. He has all the qualities to be one of our best forwards in the next five years but needs to pry his trade in the U21s squad instead of being thrown in at the deep end as a England first team regular.
In terms of captaincy, I would hand the duty to Jagielka because he has the most experience and would make an excellent leader to this rejuvenated squad. Gary Cahill would still be vice captain with Barkley taking the penalties
That is my fantasy England squad. Who would get into your fantasy England squad for the upcoming Auld Enemy clash before taking on Spain?