A man-of-the-match debut performance by 21-year-old Crystal Palace midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek against Germany has highlighted the growing competition for places in England’s 2018 World Cup squad, making it clear that a number of established players will miss out on the tournament. Let’s look at five players who should get the call-up alongside Loftus-Cheek, in a squad shake-up that would shock a few fans.
England has a couple of world-class defenders in Kyle Walker and Danny Rose but most of the squad’s recent defenders are very replaceable.
Gomez would provide great cover as he has played everywhere along the back four for Liverpool. The pacey 20-year-old could add a bit of power and much needed youth to an England defence that may struggle against quick strikers.
The ex-Charlton man may even sneak into playing at centre-back regularly if he is given a chance to impress during the Premier League season. The lack of athletic centre-backs is alarming for England and going into a World Cup with Gary Cahill in that position would be a disaster.
Tom Davies really reminds me of Jack Wilshere and there is no way the injury-prone Arsenal midfielder will be on the plane to Russia so it is crucial to have a player who can provide what Wilshere does.
English midfielders have recently become better known for passing sideways than playing balls forward or scoring the important goals that distinguished the famous names of the past.
Everton midfielder Davies is still a teenager but has been impressive since arriving at Goodison Park and his fearlessness and punchy attitude could be the right ingredients for a call-up.
If Delph is good enough to be an important contributor to the best club in the country it would be odd to leave him out of the England side.
The 27-year-old midfielder has been in great form despite playing out of position as a left-back for Manchester City and I expect him to get the nod from Gareth Southgate purely because of his versatility and the experience he will gain this season under Pep Guardiola.
The ex-Villa man seems to have won over his City boss with his great left foot and never-ending tenacity so there’s every chance he will be travelling to Russia next summer.
As long as Gray continues to get game time for Leicester City he should feel confident about booking his place at the World Cup.
The 21-year-old winger has shown fantastic signs of development this season and to compete in the big competitions England will need a solid blend of experience and youth.
Gray has a ruthless style of play that could come in handy over the course of the tournament.
He appears to have the same speed and agility as Theo Walcott but unlike the Arsenal man, who will be 29 come the World Cup, Gray still knows where the goal is and can reliably provide chances for his teammates.
Lascelles has started the season well under Rafa Benitez and when you think that the likes of Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Chris Smalling are expected to be in the squad there is no way the Newcastle defender should miss out.
Yes, he does play for a newly promoted side and he has limited Premier League experience but the 24-year-old has already gone from being a bit-part player to his team’s captain and standout man.
His speed and power have surprised me and he should be on his way to Russia if he maintains his form.
by Nubaid Haroon
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