Who Gareth Southgate Should Have Taken To Russia – England Squads 2018


Image: DX-World.Net

There’s just twenty more days until the biggest competitions in football begins in Russia this summer, and after England’s squad announcement – five writers from Dictate the Game have got together and we have put together our squads that we would have taken to Russia…

To start off the article, we have DTG team member, Luke, who gives us his twenty-three man squad, which includes a few shocks, his starting XI, and why he picked the squad.

The Twenty-Three Man Squad

Goalkeepers – Nick Pope (Burnley), Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders – Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Kieran Tripper (Tottenham), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham), James Tarkowski (Burnley), John Stones (Manchester City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Eric Dier (Tottenham).

Midfielders – James Milner (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Dele Alli (Tottenham)

Forwards – Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Jermain Defoe (Bournemouth).

Luke’s Starting XI

Starting XI

Courtesy of startingeleven.co.uk

Why Luke Picked The Squad

The most obvious players making the plane are of course established internationals such as Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford.

I have also included some players who aren’t in the current set up, such as Nick Pope, who was an unused call up in the March friendlies, who I feel deserves the chance to go to Russia after the amazing season he has had in the Premier League. I also feel James Tarkowski deserves his chance to play for England, after a brilliant season at Burnley.


Nick Pope had an amazing season for Burnley, as they qualified for the Europa League. (Image: Sky Sports)

I would also ask James Milner to return to international duty after retiring following the Euro 2016 finals. Milner is such a versatile player, being able to play at left back, central midfield and on the wings would be great in case of injuries. Not to mention, he has been great for Liverpool in both the Premier League and on their Champions League run this season.


Passion. (Image: Daily Mail)

Jordan Henderson. He’s like Marmite. You either love him or hate him. I personally think he’s a good player and when on his best is an excellent box-to-box midfielder. He’s able to help the defenders out, and get one or two assists in the process. I would start him, and personally I’d have him captain The Three Lions, certainly after the boost of captaining Liverpool to a Champions League final.

Arguably, the biggest argument of my 23 man squad, might be picking Leon Bailey. For those who don’t know who Leon Bailey is, he is a 20-year-old playing for Bayer Leverkusen, who is eligible for England. A fast winger, who pops in a goal now and again, he is just what this England squad needs. Southgate needs to act quick and get him capped before one of Germany, Belgium or Jamaica calls him up instead.


Leon Bailey. He scores goals. He assists team-mates. He’s eligible for The Three Lions. Call him up, Southgate!

After Luke, we now have fellow DTG member, Paul, who includes a Championship player in his squad – risky!

The Twenty-Three Man Squad

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham), James Tarkowski (Burnley)

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Dominic Solanke (Liverpool)

Paul’s Starting XI:

England starting 11

How I would line up in the opening game. Squad image courtesy of StartingEleven.co.uk

Why Paul Selected The Squad

For me, Gareth Southgate has done a great job with his selections, and it’s a real statement of intent that he has not been afraid to drop the big names like Jack Wilshere and Joe Hart. That being said, there are a few players who I believe should not be counting their rubles just yet.


Jack Wilshere was dropped from the England squad for the World Cup by Gareth Southgate

Phil Jones and Ashley Young have had good seasons, but I believe that James Tarkowski would have been a better choice than Phil Jones. His form for Burnley this season has been astounding. Despite his youth, Ryan Sessegnon has been a revelation for Fulham since breaking through to the first team, and warranted inclusion at the expense of Ashley Young.


Paul would have liked to see Fulham star, Ryan Sessegnon, included in the squad

Granted, Fabian Delph has had a very good year, but I think Lewis Cook offers more as he can play centrally or further up the field. His fantastic form for Bournemouth this year should be rewarded, and tournament experience for a younger player who will go on to become an integral part of the future of the England set up would be invaluable.

Finally, Danny Welbeck to me brings nothing to the table, and again I feel his place should go to a younger player for tournament experience, and so I would have picked Dominic Solanke in his place.


Paul would have taken Dominic Solanke to give him tournament experience.

After Paul, we now have Jay, and his 23 man squad includes young City player, Phil Foden…

The Twenty-Three Man Squad

Goalkeepers – Jordan Pickford (Everton), Jack Butland (Stoke), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders –  Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Harry Maguire (Leicester), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Ryan Sessengon (Fulham), John Stones (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Danny Rose (Tottenham)

Midfielders – Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Tom Davies (Everton), Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle)

Forwards – Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford

Jay’s Starting XI:


Starting XI courtesy of startingeleven.co.uk

Why Jay Selected The Squad

One or two things will spring to mind with my selection. 1) Why so many youth players not proven on the international scene? and 2) Phil Foden?

The thing you are probably confused confused with, with Phil Foden making the cut is how he did so in 5 premier league appearances. Whilst the 17-year-old has only made 5 premier league appearances, each of these he has shown levels of maturity and ability that supersede other players at this age.

To have Guardiola start him in the Champions League shows confidence reserved for the top players and considering Yaya Toure was dropped and Foden moved in as a replacement, shows the calibre he is believed to be at. It may have been against Shakhtar but Lionel Messi made his debut against Shakhtar…

England U18 v Brazil U18 - International Match

In all honesty I do believe bringing him to the world cup would have been amazing for the player and the squad. What we need is young players who want to play their heart out for the country rather than what we saw from the last 2 world cups with aging players who haven’t got the legs anymore.

He can also use this to train with his future team mates as I have no doubt he will become an England Senior player within the next 3 years. Just in time for Qatar 2022.

I have a quirky midfield in comparison to the actual 23. I have included Tom Davies, Jonjo Shelvey and Phil Foden for several reasons.

Tom Davies has been a first team player for Everton since his man of the match performance against Manchester City in which he tore them open and scored an amazing goal running from his own box essentially to score.

TomHe is a player who can bruise his way around the centre of the park whilst also being technically gifted to skill when required. Straight onto the plane for me.

Ryan Sessegnon is included for a similar reason to Phil Foden. He has the drive and ability to perform amazingly, if he’s given the chance. He wouldn’t be my first choice to start and would in all honesty be my reserve lwb but if needed, he could get thrown in to provide an injection of pace and uncertainty for the opposition.

I have chosen Jonjo Shelvey, simply for his passing ability, whilst Henderson has also got amazing distribution to the sides and behind, Jonjo has more similar passing range to Gerrard and is able to deftly hit it to a winger who can run in and slot home as he has done all this season. I was honestly surprised when I saw he wasn’t in the initial 23 as this season has been magnificent and he would have been a starting player in my team.


Following Jay, we now have Jamie, and his squad is rather similar to the real squad!

The Twenty-Three Man Squad

Goalkeepers – Nick Pope (Burnley), Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Defenders – Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), John Stones (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Young (Manchester United), Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Midfielders – Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)

Forwards – Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Dortmund), Jamie Vardy (Leicester)

Jamie’s Starting XI:

England Starting 11

Courtesy of startingeleven.co.uk

Why Jamie Picked The Squad

The keeper position appears to be the most contentious for a few years with all 3 choices being as good as the other. Personally I would put Pope in at number 1 based on the numbers he has been putting up this season; 0 errors leading to goals and a save percentage of 79.4%. He only found himself behind De Gea this year in terms of Premier League performances so for me, he has to be number 1.

I’d certainly take Walker as he’s a very good player, but I’d be in no doubts about starting Trippier ahead of him. Trippier has beaten Walker in almost every area this season both going forwards and at the back, more chances created, more key passes and a higher take-on percentage all suggest that Trippier is the stronger force in attack. England have, in the past, been hopeless when it comes to attacking so against the likes of Panama and Tunisia the stronger creative force that Trippier brings to the squad could be key.


Tripper should be ahead of Walker in the pecking order according to Jamie

Maguire has, without a doubt, been the best English CB this season and his ability on the ball is rivaled by few so he should certainly be in the starting 11 alongside Stones and Young. Perhaps against Panama and Tunisia young Ryan Sessegnon could have had a run out, he’s been in scintillating form in the Championship this season, and whilst the World Cup is a step up, the likes of Tunisia and Panama should not see him out of his depth.

The thought of having a double pivot involving both Henderson and Dier slightly terrifies me, especially against the smaller teams, the lack of creativity would severely hamper England’s already slim chances. Wilshere, having kept himself fit for the season is right to be miffed not to have been picked and in my eyes, should’ve been one of the first names on the team sheet.


Jamie isn’t a fan of a Henderson-Dier combo in the midfield

Not many surprises with the strikers picked as, unfortunately, England aren’t blessed with a plethora of attacking talent, I would personally take Jadon Sancho for similar reasons to Sessegnon, he doesn’t have to start the games but he’s proven he can cut it at the top level this season with his performances for Dortmund.


Jadon Sancho and Ryan Sessegnon should go for experience says Jamie

Following on from Jay’s selection, we have Owen, who has a mixture of both youth and experience…

The Twenty-Three Man Squad

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Jack Butland (Stoke), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Trent Alexander Arnold (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester), John Stones (Manchester City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Manchester United), Danny Rose (Tottenham)

Midfielders: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ruben Loftus Cheek (Crystal Palace), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Marc Albrighton (Leicester), Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen), Jadon Sancho (Dortmund).

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

Owen’s Starting XI:

Courtesy of startingeleven.co.uk

Why Owen Picked The Squad

Uncontroversially, I’ve gone for a goalkeeping trio of Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope. Although some will argue Pope should start due to his season at Burnley, I would personally start Jordan Pickford as I believe he’s the better goalkeeper overall. Furthermore, his distribution gives us a different option in chance creation which Pope or Butland wouldn’t offer us.


Jordan Pickford is Owen’s number 1

I would personally opt for a back three in Russia due to the fact many of the top teams have adopted this system this season. On the right hand side of the back three I would have James Tarkowski. The Burnley centre back’s form has been not much short of phenomenal this season and therefore deserves a chance over the experienced members of the squad who have a record of not performing at tournaments. Tarkowski would also offer a balance in the back three with his no-nonsense approach which would be needed at times during a game.


Tarkowsi helped Burnley qualify for Europe

In midfield, I feel Ruben Loftus Cheek would be a risk worth taking. The Chelsea midfielder, on loan at Crystal Palace, has enjoyed a decent season proving himself at Premier League level. Furthermore, I believe we should start to build towards the future and the athletic playmaker could play a big part in the Three Lions’ future.


Should Ruben Loftus-Cheek been given a place on the plane to Russia? Owen thinks so.

Marc Albrighton may come as a surprise to many, however I personally think that the former Aston Villa winger is extremely underrated in the Premier League. The Leicester man relies on his technical ability rather than blistering pace to ply his trade. Due to this, I would take him as he offers something different on the wings.

Another player who would come as a surprise to many is Jadon Sancho, the Borussia Dortmund winger has played 12 times this season. Considering he was playing for Manchester City’s U23’s last season, I think this shows the progress the 18 year old has made and consequently should be rewarded with a World Cup call up!


Sancho playing for the England U21s

In conclusion, you will see who I think should be our starting eleven in Russia with the graphic above. Despite the fact Southgate’s squad selection has a fair few differences to mine, I am pretty satisfied with the squad and our chances of doing well in Russia are better than they have been in recent tournaments.

So, there you have it, five different squads, very different opinions…. who did you agree with the most? or did you not agree with any of our squads?

Let us know by tweeting us @DictateTheGame on Twitter, or by leaving a comment below!

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6 thoughts on “Who Gareth Southgate Should Have Taken To Russia – England Squads 2018

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