With qualification for the UEFA Nations League still up for grabs, England have named their latest squad for the friendly against USA before facing Croatia in their final group match.
There haven’t been many changes from October’s selection so just how strong is this squad for the final round of internationals in 2018?
- Jordan Pickford (Everton)
- Jack Butland (Stoke City)
- Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham)
- Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
Yet again, this is our best selection of goalkeepers at present although Gareth Southgate will utilise at least one of the uncapped Bettinelli or McCarthy during the friendly against USA.
Other than that observation, this a solid selection of strong talent between the sticks.
- Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
- John Stones (Manchester City)
- Michael Keane (Everton)
- Lewis Dunk (Brighton & Hove Albion)
- Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
- Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
- Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur)
- Ben Chilwell (Leicester City)
- Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Defensively, this is slightly weaker compared to recent international rounds although injury luck is to blame here.
My big concern is that if Joe Gomez isn’t fit and withdraws, who will replace him as a quality centre back option alongside Walker and Stones?
If stick to usual formation of two wingers further up field and three centre backs, there would be only four options in central defence available, which is a slight worry because although Keane and Dunk are good, they’re no sub for the absent Harry Maguire through injury.
Full back wise, the selection is as strong as ever and Chilwell has in particular impressed lately with his performances particularly when attacking, as evidenced by setting up Demarai Gray to score Leicester’s winner at Cardiff.
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
- Ross Barkley (Chelsea)
- Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
- Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
- Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur)
- Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
- Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
- Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
- Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
- Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
With a fair number of central midfielders included alongside the more attacking bunch, this makes Southgate’s plans for the midfield tough to work out.
The big positive though is that tactically, there is plenty of room for manoeuvre depending on the challenges faced as could go from 3-4-3 to something different if need to attack or defend more in the midfield.
Now that is definitely doable with the quality of this selection whilst Eric Dier could be a defensive option if Gomez is unfit, so expect pre match buzz to be on this area of outfield.
- Wayne Rooney (DC United) – Only participating in USA match
- Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
- Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
- Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)
- Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
- Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
Finally, Callum Wilson has made the England squad after an impressive start to this season with six league goals and four assists.
If there is a single English player who hasn’t let September and October snubs affect his performance, Wilson is the man because he has just been exceptional for Bournemouth on a consistent basis this season.
Kane, Rashford and Sterling aren’t any major surprises although Welbeck hasn’t really done anything other than in Europa League to justify selection ahead of James Maddison or a youngster like Reiss Nelson who is doing a solid job for Hoffenheim.
As for Wayne Rooney, let hope his contribution is brief because I would rather see Wilson get more playing time than someone who has already worn an England shirt many times before retiring after Euro 2016.