2018 World Cup: England squad excites boss Gareth Southgate
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are named in England’s 23-man party for Russia
England manager Gareth Southgate is excited by the mix of “energy and athleticism” in the 23-man squad he announced today for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Among the younger players included are Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, 19, and Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22, who has been on loan at Crystal Palace this season. Among the more senior players to get the nod are Chelsea’s Gary Cahill, Manchester City’s Fabian Delph and Manchester United’s Ashley Young. Cahill is the only member of the squad with more than 40 caps.
As well as his 23-man party, Southgate has also named five players - Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and Adam Lallana - on stand-by.
Midfielders Jack Wilshere and Jonjo Shelvey miss out altogether as does goalkeeper Joe Hart. There is also no place for Chris Smalling, Ryan Bertrand or Ryan Sessegnon. Fulham star Sessegnon, 17, had been seen as a possible wildcard pick.
England face Tunisia in their first Group G match on 18 June followed by games against Panama and Belgium. Before travelling to Russia on 12 June, the Three Lions have friendlies against Nigeria at Wembley on 2 June and against Costa Rica at Elland Road on 7 June.
England’s 2018 World Cup squad
Southgate has named 23 players for the 2018 World Cup and five on stand-by:
- Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope
- Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Fabian Delph, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young
- Midfielders: Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek
- Forwards: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck
- Stand-by: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore, Adam Lallana
Southgate: the balance of the squad is good
Southgate believes that the mix of senior and younger players can help an improving England continue their “momentum”.
He said: “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about. It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.
“We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.”
Liverpool star Alexander-Arnold, who has helped the Reds reach the final of the Champions League, was praised by Southgate for his performances this season. “The first call-up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved,” said Southgate. “When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it.”
Who misses out?
The BBC looks at the players who will stay at home this summer:
- Goalkeepers: Joe Hart
- Defenders: Alfie Mawson (injured), Jamaal Lascelles, Michael Keane, Chris Smalling, Ryan Bertrand, Luke Shaw, Joe Gomez (injured), Lewis Dunk
- Midfielders: Jonjo Shelvey, Michail Antonio, Jack Wilshere, Ryan Sessegnon, Jack Cork
- Forwards: Theo Walcott, Tammy Abraham
Southgate says Southampton left-back Bertrand was “very unfortunate” not to get picked while goalkeeper Hart misses out as his rivals were selected “on merit”. Southgate said: “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved.
“With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season.
“Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Both calls were really tough.”