Gareth Southagate has named his final England squad for the World Cup, although the FIFA deadline is not until June 4th the former Middlesbrough manager has made the sensible if not slightly unusual step of not naming a provisional squad and going straight into a final 23.
A group of players that does not include either Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere, for the former it looks as if his England squad participation is over while the ongoing question regarding fitness will continue to be asked about the latter – ultimately it is disappointment for them but there is delight for the group of names below.
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley).
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United).
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).
Although to be honest this is my opinion on Danny Welbeck – something that a fair few of you also share,
#EnglandSquad is about as good as you could expect
Although I would have rather gone with 22 players than take Danny Welbeck
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) May 16, 2018
Will he make me look stupid by going on to score the winner in the World Cup Final? if he does I guess I would have to remove the egg from my face, but not before the copious amounts of alcohol that would be consumed in celebration. Wishful thinking (or should that be drinking) anyway I digress.
The purpose of this article is to look at just how many caps and as a result how much experience this England squad has going into the tournament finals in Russia next month, something I can now answer for you below (figures correct as of May 16th 2018)
To say it is a mixture of youth and experience is a fair statement, although truth be told it probably sits nearer the side of youth. That in itself is no bad thing, although it does make you wonder if this a stepping stone tournament for a real crack at success in Euro 2020.
The 23 players between have just 449 caps in total, this works out at just 20 per player. Of that 449 here is how they are split by position:
As you would expect the bulk of the caps can be found in both Defence and Midfield but this is only because there are more players selected for those positions, while it must came as something of a surprise that there are just a total of nine caps between the three Goalkeepers that have been called up to the England squad.
A fairer assessment here would be the average England caps per position – something that looks as such:
The bulk of the experience actually comes in attack but even with the average attacker getting just 25 caps to their name that is not a lot of game time, so does this signify exciting times ahead especially when not one player has exceeded 60 England caps, the elder statesman of the squad is actually Gary Cahill with 58 caps to his name before the tournament starts next month.
I mentioned it looks like youth over experience but what if those two concepts went head to head, here is what the most inexperienced half the squad would look like, – imagine this for an England first eleven
A little bit of artistic license with the positions but this setup only has 107 England caps to its name, that said its not a bad lineup if a little unbalanced, while here is what the most experienced England side available would look like – this time I’ll go with a 3-4-1-2 formation
This more wiser and experienced setup has 340 caps to its name, this works out at an average of just 31 caps per player. Now for any international team it is all about getting the mix of personnel so the optimum England team for the World Cup will lie between the two – spare a thought for Jordan Pickford as he is the odd man out in this game of youth vs experience.
A lot will also depend on what formation Gareth Southgate goes for, if we are to go with what has been tested in the recent friendlies then it looks as if it will be three at the back to start but with the personnel that has been named it does at least give the England manager options should he decide to switch things before or during a match.
Arguably the only real area of concern is defensive midfield and the fact that only two recognised players in this position have been named, those being Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson. Should one of those two get a knock then it will leave the Three Lions very short in this department.
Then again with tournament football there is always the need for versatility it could well be that someone such as John Stones is played further forward, hopefully this is not a selection headache that Gareth Southgate does not need to worry about.
The hope will be that no-one gets injured before the tournament, if they happen to do so before June 4th then Gareth Southgate can at least rely on any of his five stand by players, the quintet of names who will be impatiently waiting are:
Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley).
In the nicest possible way I hope these five are not called upon otherwise it means that we have an injury saga on our hands, then again it wouldn’t be a major tournament preparation without one would it. England expects as always, can this group of players deliver though. I guess only time will tell.
Thanks for reading, I am always available for any football data projects you may have and/or content creation.
If you have any requirements then please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Football Data”
I am also available via twitter at @dantracey1983 – again feel free to get in touch to discuss any work. Thanks, Dan