Tom Burford looks at the potential eleven that will represent England at the 2018 World Cup.
Plenty of the current crop will be long gone by the time this tournament comes around. So who will line up in Qatar for England?
Joe Hart (GK)
He’ll be 31 by the time this tournament comes around, but Joe Hart has proved over the last 2 seasons that, at the moment, nobody is anywhere near him. Superb shot-stopper and always in command of the penalty area, he’s our best keeper since Seaman.
Ryan Bertrand (LB)
Hasn’t put a foot wrong since making the move from Chelsea to Southampton. Big presence defensively and a threat going forward, Bertrand will be an established Premier League left-back by then, maybe even at a top four club, which in all fairness could be where Southampton are.
John Stones (CB)
Has made himself an Everton regular after a superb campaign this year (when he’s been fit). Still only 20, Stones has all the attributes of a future England captain in the centre of defence. He’s a ball playing centre-half, and will work superbly with the other predicted centre back.
Gary Cahill (CB)
He’ll be 32 in 2018. He has always looked comfortable in an England shirt and will be the experienced part of the central defensive pairing with Stones. Huge threat from set pieces, he’ll be the wise head in defence.
Carl Jenkinson (RB)
Wouldn’t have been anywhere near if you’d asked me two years ago, but if there’s an example of a young player profiting from regular first team football, this is him. Way down the pecking order at Arsenal, Jenkinson went on loan to West Ham and showed everyone what he could do. There’s no way he’ll allow himself to sit on the bench all year after the season he’s just had, so I’m backing him to be ahead of Gibbs by this stage.
Jordan Henderson (CDM)
Filling the boots of captain marvel Steven Gerrard at Liverpool will continue at international level for Jordan. He’s come on leaps and bounds under the stewardship of Brendan Rogers at Anfield and on current form is probably one of England’s best players. He may well wear the armband if Rooney doesn’t make this team.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (RW)
A controversial choice perhaps, but this kid has bags of ability and a serious amount of pace. He gets in ahead of Walcott every day of the week for me. He’s proved he’s well up to standard for England already, I think he’ll be a regular by this stage.
Raheem Sterling (RW)
If he can get shot of his ‘money grabbing’ tag and get his head down, he’ll be in there. He’s probably one of our most natural talents with the ball at his feet. Hopefully by then, wherever Raheem ends up, he’ll be happy and tearing Premier League defences to shreds.
Ross Barkley (CAM)
Terrific passer of the ball, not afraid to put a tackle in and a serious shot on him, Ross Barkley doesn’t just have the potential to make the team, but to be one of its leading lights. He along with Bertrand could well be a regular at a top four club by the time this tournament comes around.
Wayne Rooney (ST)
He’ll still be our captain, he’s revelled in the role thus far and has been instrumental to the success of the European Championship qualifying campaign. There’s not much more to say really, and absolute superstar! This is likely to be his last chance at a World Cup winners medal.
The last players in an England shirt with such an eye for goal were Shearer and Owen, Shearer is in a league of his own, but Kane has shown this season that he scores big goals in big games, and lots of them. There are a lot of flashes in the pan in the Premier League, and onlookers would have thought the same of Kane, but he just didn’t stop scoring. I’m backing him to be our regular at this stage in his career.
With Asmir Begovic looking ever more likely to leave Stoke, The Potters will do no wrong in handing the number one jersey to Jack Butland. He’ll have played 3 full seasons by this point, and will only have improved from where he is now, an excellent young goalkeeper.
It was a tough one between him and Bertrand, but at this stage, Bertrand has slightly more. Everything you see applied to Bertrand above also applies to this young man. It’ll be a tough call.
We’ve seen a huge improvement in Smalling towards the end of this campaign, Van Gaal looks to have done an excellent job with him. If he keeps that performance level up for the next three years, he’ll be in this squad.
He scored an absolute belter at the weekend against West Brom, we’ve all seen what Jack can do.
Let’s hope that there aren’t too many injuries between now and 2018 as that’s what’s pushed him down the pecking order. No-one doubts Wilshere’s ability.
Big gamble perhaps, but it just goes to show what a little faith from your manager can give you and your team. Villa were in free-fall until Tim Sherwood got a tune out of Delph, Agbonlahor and Benteke in tandem with the emergence of this young man. He’s got absolutely everything you’d want in a midfielder, he just needs to sort his hair out!
Danny Ings/ Saido Berahino
I just couldn’t decide between the two, there’s no way these two will be playing at their respective clubs by 2018, especially Ings who looks like he might be off to Liverpool. Let’s hope he doesn’t get the same treatment as Lambert, a more romantic return to former club Bournemouth will benefit his development.
As for Berahino, he’s shown he’s got a real eye for goal, maybe a move to a bigger club is exactly what he needs.