Whilst there will be no Wayne Rooney in England’s squad to face Malta – after the 31-year-old announced his retirement from international football this week – both Nathaniel Chalobah and Harry Maguire will travel with the squad for the first time. England are welcoming new blood to the setup…
Jack Butland (Stoke City), Joe Hart (West Ham United, on loan from Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Jordan Pickford (Everton).
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Michael Keane (Everton), Harry Maguire (Leicester City), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City).
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).
Jermain Defoe (AFC Bournemouth), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).
Meet the new boys
Chalobah has made a bright start to the season for a new club, having made the move from Chelsea to Watford for £5m this summer after serving the Blues for over 10 years. Although he was born in Sierra Leone, the young midfielder has played for England from U16 level and made 96 appearances for his country.
Maguire has also started the season well for Leicester, who have won one and lost one so far this campaign. The 24-year-old defender joined the Foxes from Hull City this summer and has already scored one goal and assisted another in the Premier League.
Manager Gareth Southgate was very complimentary of Maguire in his press conference:
“He is a defender who is very comfortable with the ball, he has already adjusted very well to a new club at Leicester, plays with composure and can defend the ball into the box, so this is a good chance to have a look at him.”
Also in the squad is Everton’s talented young goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, who impressed for Sunderland last season and during the U21’s European Championships and has earned the position as Ronald Koeman’s first choice keeper. He will be a direct competitor to the current England No.1, Joe Hart, if he continues to develop in such a positive way.
…And an old face
Jermain Defoe is another player who has been called up by Southgate. The 34-year-old had a stunning season for Sunderland last campaign before his move to Bournemouth, scoring 15 goals in the Premier League. His form then earned him a call-up to the England squad for the first time in over three years where he scored against Lithuania in March.
Out of the entire squad, Manchester United and Tottenham have the most representatives with four from each team.
Against Malta, it will be interesting to see who Southgate chooses to play at centre-back, with Phil Jones claiming a spot back in the Manchester United starting line-up and Gary Cahill starting the season poorly with a red card in the opening game of the season.The England manager also has John Stones from Manchester City, Everton’s Michael Keane, Jones’ Manchester United teammate, Chris Smalling and new-boy Maguire to choose from.
Two certainties for Southgate’s squad are Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Dele Alli. The young pair both had brilliant seasons last campaign with Kane picking up the Premier League Golden Boot and Alli earning the PFA Player of the Year Award. The two have shown great chemistry and their understanding of each other’s game and ability to create and score goals should be a positive partnership that Southgate looks to build his team around.
Overall the squad is dominated by young talent, players who are still hungry to establish themselves in the England set up. This youthfulness and the quality of the squad means that there is no room for complacency in any position because Southgate has the players at his disposal to make changes very quickly.
Southgate’s squad is also well-balanced with players who have the ability to keep the play simple and dictate the tempo, such as Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson and highly technical players, footballers such as Alli, Kane, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge who can provide that spark of magic needed to create a goal-scoring opportunity.
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