World Cup 2018: How England could line up as they target Qatar 2022 glory
ENGLAND’S run to the semi-final at Russia 2018 has given hope the country is on the verge of a golden period in international football.
Gareth Southgate’s squad went into the World Cup as the least experienced of all the sides competing in the tournament.
But his emerging players showed they are able to cut it at the highest level of the game – with even Southgate believing there is more to come.
And with such an exciting crop of young players coming through the national system, there is a genuine belief the Three Lions may become a serious force in major tournaments.
Southgate is likely to keep faith the majority of his squad from Russia as England begin the qualifying process for the European Championship in two years.
The vast majority are still at, or yet to reach their peak and the longer they stay together the belief is the better the will become.
But there are already exciting young talents looking to force their way into the manager’s plans – and by the time the next World Cup in Qatar comes around they could play a major role in the side.
With England either being crowned world or European champions across four junior age groups in the past year, the best from those sides have been earmarked for big futures in the game.
In goal, Jordan Pickford’s displays in Russia suggest he has the ability and character to be relied upon as the long-term number one.
But Kyle Walker will be 32 in four years, and may find his place as one of the back three taken up Liverpool’s Joe Gomez – who looked a shoe-in for this squad before injury struck.
The others Gareth Southgate could call on at Qatar World Cup
Kyle Walker-Peters, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Trevoh Chalobah, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Danny Rose
Ademola Lookman, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Lewis Cook, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Nathaniel Chalobah, Jack Wilshere
Raheem Sterling, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Rhian Brewster, Lukas Nmecha, Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin
John Stones and Harry Maguire have time on their side and can establish themselves over the next four years.
Yet much is expected of 18-year-old defender Trevoh Chalobah, who has come through the system at Chelsea and will be spending next season on loan with Ipswich.
Kieran Trippier has been outstanding this summer, but he could well have another Chelsea product in Dujon Sterling breathing down his neck for the right wing-back role, or even Tottenham team-mate Kyle Walker-Peters.
The chances are that this will be Ashley Young’s final major tournament, and though Danny Rose will still be going strong in 2022 it may well be that Ryan Sessegnon is the man in possession of the left wing-back jersey by that time.
Southgate’s copy of Lincoln’s ‘Love Train’ transforms England’s dead-ball threat
SEXY FAN BAN
Killjoy Fifa plans to stop TV stations picking out ‘hot women’ in the crowd
HE’S COMING HOME
England fan who vanished for six days in Russia found drunk in hotel room
WIN OR LOSE, ON THE BOOZE
England fans strip off, dive into canals and climb traffic lights
England fans accused of singing ‘discriminatory’ chant after Croatia defeat
In midfield, England threaten to finally have a unit that can compete and control games against the biggest sides.
Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier could still be knocking around by the tournament in Qatar, but they may well find themselves surpassed by the new crop.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has the potential to become a fixture in the side, while Mason Mount’s impact on loan in Holland has already seen him spend time training with Southgate’s squad.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he has never seen a talent so good for his age than Phil Foden – and if he can continue to develop then the teenage can finally become that creative player the national side is crying out for.
Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard will still be around, while you can throw in Ademola Lookman, Jadon Sancho, Lewis Cook and Jack Grealish into that mix – not forgetting Jack Wilshere.
So there are likely to be huge options available to Southgate to come up with a balance in his side to strike fear into the hearts of opponents on the big stage.
Harry Kane should be approaching his peak by the time of Qatar, and if Guardiola’s impact on Raheem Sterling continues to reap rewards that pair can develop into a formidable partnership – although Marcus Rashford may well be in full flight by then.
But don’t be surprised to see others enter the fray for an attacking role – Dominic Solanke has impressed at Liverpool, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is coming along nicely at Everton.
Callum Hudson-Odoi has been a goal machine so far at age group level for Chelsea and England, with skill and physique to add to his abilities.
Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster has been earmarked for success since a young age, while City believe Lukas Nmecha is another who can make the big step up to become a hit in their first team squad.
It is a crop of talent that is the envy of the world, a group used to winning international tournaments with no shortage of quality and character.
And come Qatar 2022, the stage is set for England to unleash them on the biggest stage.