England: The XI that should face Slovenia

The Three Lions could qualify for the World Cup in Russia on Thursday


England will qualify with a win, although a draw may be enough with Slovakia currently five points behind and two games to go.

There were mostly expected faces that Gareth Southgate called up, aside from a few surprise inclusions.

Fabian Delph was initially in the squad, however has since been ruled out with injury, with Harry Winks being called up as his replacement for his first ever senior international call up.

Southgate has so far picked largely similar sides in his games in charge.

Jordan Henderson and Jake Livermore appear to be the favoured pairing for the midfield pivot whilst Phil Jones and Gary Cahill were establishing themselves as the centre back partnership, although Jones has had to withdraw through injury.

RealSport are picking the side we would personally like to see line up at Wembley on Thursday.

GK- Jordan Pickford: Everton

The third most expensive keeper in world football after his transfer to the Toffees in the summer from Everton. Pickford is an outstanding young goalkeeper who should be number one. Pickford is a great shot stopper and makes the right decision more often than not. He is extremely consistent and could be first choice for club and country for the next ten years plus.

Not only that, the modern day goalkeeper must be excellent with his feet for the top sides, and Pickford arguably has the best distribution in world football out of any goalkeeper.

Will he start? No – Joe Hart

RB- Kyle Walker: Manchester City

Now the world’s most expensive defender, Walker has arguably been the best right back in England for two seasons. Having cost City £50 million in the summer, Walker has settled into his new club extremely well.

He is a crucial cog in Pep Guardiola’s attacking system, able to get forward and provide the width all game with his pace, energy and ball carrying skills. Walker has also developed into an extremely reliable defender and has helped City to conceding only two league goals in their seven games so far this season.

One of the first names on the team sheet.

Will he start? Yes

CB- John Stones: Manchester City

Walker’s City team mate, Stones has made an excellent start to the season. He still displays the excellent passing and ball playing traits that made Guardiola sign him in the first place, however he is now developing into an extremely dependable centre back.

Stones currently has an exceptional 97% pass completion rate in the league this season. However, his average of 5.5 clearances per game also show how his ‘over-playing’ status is somewhat a myth.

With Jones pulling out the squad, he will almost certainly start. Although we think he should anyway.

Will he start? Yes

CB- Harry Maguire: Leicester City

The Foxes new centre back looks a snip at £17 million. Maguire is a solid and reliable defender however is also excellent at bringing the ball out of defence.

With Cahill ageing and still question marks over his quality, England need a consistent and reliable centre back partnership. The Three Lions have failed to have one since the days of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand and a pairing of Stones and Maguire has quality, potential and a real chance of longevity.

Will he start? No – Gary Cahill

LB- Ryan Bertrand: Southampton

With Danny Rose injured, Bertrand has established himself as the next in line for England, and deservedly so. Bertrand is a wonderful technician and scored his first Three Lions goal in the 4-0 win over Malta in the last qualifiers.

He has averaged one key pass per game for Southampton in the league so far this season and is a good outlet on the attack.

Will he start? Yes

CM- Eric Dier: Tottenham Hotspur

The utility man for his club and country, Dier is someone who’s influence largely goes under the radar. Dier is constantly putting out fires when he plays in midfield and a crucial member of the England squad.

He is arguably the only player who had a good Euro 2016 tournament and should definitely start for England in the defensive midfield role. Dier is an intelligent footballer who has a good range of passing. His ability to drop and split the centre backs is also crucial to the build up play of Spurs and England.

Will he start? Yes

CM- Harry Winks: Tottenham Hotspur

The Spurs midfielder wasn’t even initially called up, however he should have been. England lack a midfielder who is able to dictate play, and provide creativity from deep.

Winks, along with Jonjo Shelvey are the only established Englishmen who can do this and Winks should be brought into the starting eleven to improve England’s build up play and creativity. The Three Lions lack tempo and a consistent way to progress the ball when they play with the Henderson-Livermore pivot and Southgate should be brave and play someone with the style this country has been desperate for for
a number of years.

Will he start? No – Jordan Henderson

RW- Raheem Sterling: Manchester City

Sterling is greatly under appreciated in this country. The City player is a very intelligent player who can fit in to a number of tactical systems and is comfortable across the attacking midfield and forward line.

Sterling has the quick feet and ability to carry the ball past any defender and has greatly improved his end product. His five league goals in four starts this season has typified an excellent start to the campaign for Sterling.

Will he start? Yes

CF- Harry Kane: Tottenham Hotspur

This position would have been taken by Dele Alli, however he will be serving a one match ban for his gesture against Slovakia.

Kane may normally play as the sole striker, however he has often fancied himself as a complete forward, and is certainly capable of dropping deeper. The partnership has formed with Spurs team mate Alli often sees the pair dovetail. Kane has the vision and passing ability to play slightly deeper. Not only that, he will be harder to track for defenders and can make late bursts into the box to get in goalscoring positions.

Will he start? Yes, but not in this position. Jake Livermore will likely make a midfield three.

LW- Marcus Rashford: Manchester United

Rashford has all the makings of a potential superstar.

The United player has made a sensational start to the season with five goals in 11 appearances and was the man of the match against Crystal Palace with two assists. Rashford has the dribbling ability, pace and skill to beat any defender in a one v one, like Sterling, however, has brilliant end product and has every type of finish. He should be a starter.

Will he start? 50/50 – him or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

ST- Daniel Sturridge: Liverpool

He may be out of favour at Liverpool, however Sturridge is one of the best finishers in Europe and should get a chance to prove he can play with Kane with Alli’s suspension.

Sturridge has the ability to score a goal out of nothing, something which could prove crucial if England are searching for a goal.

Will he start? No- see Kane.

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