On May 16, England coach Gareth Southgate announced his 23-man squad who will take on the world in Russia. We now know that Fabian Delph, who impressed greatly at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola, is one of the shocking inclusions. Another surprise is young Liverpool defender, Trent Alexander-Arnold, who got the nod to join up with the squad. Chelsea center back Gary Cahill is also back in the team since he won back his place at Chelsea during Antonio Conte’s final days.
Prior to the announcement it was already made clear that Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere would not be included. The England squad will meet up for the first time on May 21. Although Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool players will be given some extra time off due to the FA Cup and Champions League finals. World Cup coaches were required to submit a preliminary list of 35 players on May 14, Southgate opted to head straight in and just name his final 23-man team.
England’s World Cup begins against Tunisia in Volgograd on June 18 with Panama to follow on June 24 and Roberto Martinez’s Belgium coming up on June 28. In preparation for the tournament, England plays friendly games with Nigeria on June 2 and Costa Rica on June 7. During qualifying, Southgate’s team went unbeaten.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Leon Bailey Is Not in the Squad
In the hours leading up to Southgate’s squad announcement, rumors began to spread online that Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey was to be included in the team. Jamaican born Bailey is reported to be on the move from Germany this summer with Manchester United and Chelsea leading the chase. Bailey moved to Europe in 2011 along with his brother, Kyle, and his adoptive father, Craig Butler.
Tottenham fans are hoping to that Bailey could be persuaded to come to White Hart Lane after a photo surfaced on Twitter showing the winger with Spurs player Mousa Dembele.
2. Jonjo Shelvey Is Not in the Squad
The most debated about player in England’s ranks, Jonjo Shelvey, 26, will not play in the World Cup in 2018. The Newcastle United midfielder was reported to have missed out on going to the World Cup because of his discipline issues, reported the Newcastle Chronicle. The Chronicle report notes that Shelvey hasn’t been issued a yellow card since January 2018. His coach at Newcastle, Rafa Benitez, said of Shelvey, “What I like about Jonjo is that he is different from the players that they have already and he can do a lot of things. And for three weeks, he can be a very important player if he is a part of things. But it’s not my decision, he knows his group, the players he has, what he wants to do.”
Shelvey hasn’t played for England since 2015 when he played in a friendly against France. One man in Shelvey’s corner was Alan Shearer, the Newcastle legend said, “I would have him in my squad. We haven’t got many, if any, players who can do what Shelvey has done for the last five or six months. He keeps the game flowing. His first thought is can he pass it forward. He was the best player on the park (against Chelsea). He is great for a forward. That is great when he picks a pass out, picks his head up, not go sideways and backwards and find people.”
Ahead of the squad announcement, soccer bible FourFourTwo also published an editorial arguing that Shelvey should be included in the team. The piece complains that England’s likely starting midfield trio of Dier, Henderson and Dele Alli looks “troublingly static.” The article praises Shelvey’s passing ability as making him worthy of a place in the team.
3. Gary Cahill Is the Team’s Most Experienced Player
With Joe Hart and his 75 appearances for England not going to the World Cup, that would make Gary Cahill the most experienced player in the English team. Cahill has appeared 58 times for England but was left out of the team for their games against Holland and Italy in March 2018. The Independent notes that Southgate has preferred the ball-playing skills of John Stones to a stopper like Cahill, who would have been a started under former coaches Sven Goran-Eriksson, Fabio Capello or Roy Hodgson.
4. England Legend Alan Shearer Says the Pressure Is on Harry Kane This Summer
The Independent reports that Alan Shearer has said that the “pressure” is on Harry Kane this summer. Shearer is quoted as saying, “I think it’s a huge tournament for Harry because of what happened two years ago. I’m pretty certain he won’t be asked to take corners in this World Cup. To put himself on the global stage – he’s known all around Europe, obviously – he has to go out and perform and score goals in this tournament. I watched the game at Wembley. Harry and Jamie Vardy were both in fantastic form. Harry hasn’t looked his sharpest over the last two or three weeks perhaps because of his injury. But he had two chances on Sunday and took them both very well, as did Jamie Vardy. They will go into the tournament with confidence, Harry with 41 goals this season, Jamie with 23.”
5. With This Announcement, Theo Walcott Remains the Most Shocking England World Cup Call-Up of All Time
With the 2018 announcement being bereft of any real shocks, Theo Walcott’s 2006 call up to Sven Goran-Eriksson’s World Cup squad remains the most shocking inclusion of all time. Walcott, then 17 years old and at Arsenal, hadn’t played a game for his team at that stage. Walcott was selected ahead of Darren Bent, the English player who scored the most goals in the Premier League that season, Jermain Defoe and Andy Johnson, 2004-05’s highest English goalscorer. Walcott made his debut in a warm-up game against Hungary in May 2006, becoming England’s youngest ever player. Despite the hype, Walcott didn’t play any games during the World Cup.