The Premier League's England stars are making the Three Lions World Cup hopes look bright. As we begin a World Cup year, there remains plenty to shout about as England's finest talent begin to flourish at just the right time. There is promise and optimism in abundance surrounding some of the Premier League’s elite British talent right now with a number of stand-out performers in the division being Englishmen - something few of us anticipated yet all hoped for.
Spirit is high in the national team camp right now following impressive England triumphs at the Under-17 and Under-20 FIFA World Cups. Not only has this year boded well for the future, but also for the senior side who are showing all the signs of a successful campaign based on their current form for their respective clubs. England qualified for the World Cup in Russia with ease in a qualifying campaign which saw a managerial change and more than 40 players experimented in a whole host of different tactical formations as Gareth Southgate continues to search for that winning formula that will finally end 52 years of hurt.
England boss, Southgate said he hopes to "evolve" England's style by the World Cup by using a formation with three central defenders but says no-one is guaranteed a place in his squad this summer. When asked how many spaces in his 23-man squad are certainties for the tournament in Russia, Southgate told BBC Sport: "I'm not certain there are many. In every position on the field there is strong competition. The speed of development of some of our young players and progress is eye-catching. I don't think anybody can sit and safely think they are going to be involved next summer."
Southgate has plenty of tough calls to make between now and June, as the current crop of English stars begin to give him something of a selection headache for all the right reasons. Southgate has to whittle down a 23-man squad capable of challenging at the 2018 World Cup with the pressure of a nation on his shoulders. As things stand, form, injuries and experience could all play a vital role as to who makes it on the plane to Russia. Here at Football Ticket Pad we have discussed some of the players who are hitting form at just the right time.
Lets start with the obvious. To do well at the World Cup you need a natural goalscorer and England have just that in the shape of a formidable Harry Kane. It seems that the Spurs captain just can’t stop scoring right now and England have real hope that the striker can continue his rich vein of form in the White of England this summer. He has become one of the leading strikers in world football and he will be the key man if England are to go far.
Kane has also struck a formidable partnership with his Spurs teammate, Dele Alli. It feels like the World Cup is made for Alli to announce himself onto the biggest world stage. He loves the big occasion, despite finding it tough at Euro 2016. However, he is older and wiser and that experience should help him this time around in Russia. A guaranteed starter.
Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling is finally showing the form and consistency which reflects the £50 million fee that Manchester City paid Liverpool in 2015. He is a genuine winger who offers great pace and energy and will undoubtedly be a threat to some of the best defenders in the world if he can continue to rack up numbers for his goals and assists, many of which have been vital late goals, a good habit to have.
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard has also been in the form of his life and aged 25 he is in the physical peak of his career heading into a World Cup. He has been in and around the England setup for some time now, but he looks more and more likely to play a bigger role in Russia if he can continue his good form for United. He could be something of a surprise package for Gareth Southgate this summer with his versatility in attack. Let’s not forget about Marcus Rashford too. A exciting young player who has benefitted from playing regularly under Jose Mourinho this season with a string of eye-catching displays in qualifying for England to help his cause.
Defensively, John Stones and Kyle Walker have been rock solid at the back for Manchester City as they run away with the Premier League title. Stones has played a vital role in the heart of defence, with Walker cementing the right-back slot as his own with a string of steady performances. Fabian Delph is another City counterpart who could find himself in contention. He is enjoying a renaissance at left-back in Pep Guardiola's free-flowing side, and also offers cover in central midfield. He received a call-up in November for the friendlies against Brazil and Germany and has been in good form since. There is already huge competition for a left-back slot, so Delph’s realistic option would be a place in the midfield, which is even more competitive. Delph has an outside chance despite his good performances this season.
Many are also calling for an England return for Jack Wilshere. The Arsenal midfielder is lauded as one of the most talented player of his generation but his main concern will be staying fit and playing regularly between now and the end of the season. Injuries have blighted his progression but the World Cup could be his chance to put things right as he looks to kickstart his career. If he can, he has every chance of being on the plane.
Aside from Manchester City, Liverpool have been one of the most exciting teams to watch this season and much was said when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain switched North London for Merseyside in the summer from Arsenal. Now playing regularly at Liverpool and has shone in a No.8 role in midfield after a mixed start to life on Merseyside. If he can continue to put in strong performances like he can also expect a call from Mr Southgate. He also offers versatility in midfield and attack and will be a good option for England to have. He is high in confidence once more after previously being omitted from the last England squad in November. How times have changed, surely he will be back in contention.
Theo Walcott will also be hoping that his £20 million move to Everton from Arsenal could be the start of a new chapter as he looks to force his way back into the national side after a miserbale first-half of the season with the Gunners. Walcott is another player who has plenty of experience and versatility at international level and will relish working under Sam Allardyce on Merseyside as he looks to reignite his career by playing regularly.
There are plenty of players who find themselves on the fringes of selection with some young stars appearing ready to make the step up with the senior squad. Multiple English stars have caught the eye and firmly put themselves in contention for selection in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad. Players like Swansea striker Tammy Abraham, Liverpool defender Joe Gomez and Crystal Palace midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek received first call-ups for the November friendlies against Germany and Brazil, while Manchester United's versatile winger Ashley Young was recalled for the first time since 2013.
Joe Gomez continues to impress and is an exciting youngster who can play anywhere across the backline. He is a player Southgate knows well having coached him at U21 level and his maturity and athleticism are particular benefits. Gomez is a player who Southgate like the look of, in particular how comfortable he is bringing the ball out of defence. If he continues to play for Liverpool there's no reason he can't go to Russia to provide cover or possibly push for a starting slot.
Staying with defence, Harry Maguire of Leicester City has been one of the best performers in the Premier League this season and was something of a transfer coup for The Foxes following Hull City’s relegation in the summer. Maguire carries a physical presence and is comfortable playing out from the back.
Moreover, much has been made about who should be the England No.1 for the 2018 World Cup. Joe Hart looks a shadow of his former self at West Ham United and has found himself second choice behind Adrian in the Premier League under David Moyes. Jack Butland has huge potential, but has struggled to reach the levels required following his lengthy ankle injury that saw sidelined for over a year. Tom Heaton is another one who remains injured, which paves the way for Everton stopper, Jordan Pickford to take the gloves.
Pickford has impressed following his big money move to Everton in the summer and with doubts over the England No.1 position, Pickford has been one of the more consistent performers this season in the Premier League. He looks certain to make the squad despite his relative inexperience at senior international level. Southgate could give him his chance.
A lot could happen between now and June when England depart for Russia. However, fans and players alike have every reason to be optimistic this summer. The Three Lions have been handed a favourable group which they are expected to qualify from, however we all know to well what happened at Euro 2016 with Iceland. The 2018 World Cup is sure to be a memorable occasion and a fantastic event to be part of. World Cup Tickets are sure to be in high demand throughout the summer and fans can easily purchase their football tickets online at Football Ticket Pad to watch the team of their choice. We will have England tickets available for every game in Russia so be quick to book your seats before they sell-out!