Gareth Southgate makes serious changes in first England squad of 2018
With just three months to go until the World Cup finals, Gareth Southgate decided to make some serious changes in the England squad for the upcoming friendlies against Holland and Italy, omitting three experienced defenders Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and Michael Keane, who were an important part of the team during the qualifiers. It is no secret that Cahill is struggling for minutes at Chelsea of late and the current situatin could pose a serious threat to his World Cup spot this summer. The mystery remains why Smalling and Keane are out. According to the Three Lions boss, this is a time when he can see some other players on the pitch, which is probably why Burnley and Swansea defenders, James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson, who are both enjoying impressive seasons at their respective clubs, are called.
The real battle is expected for the number one jersey, which is obviously up for grabs. Joe Hart, who was the first option in the goal for years, is far from his best form, to say the least, making only one appearance for West Ham since November. This will be a perfect chance for Jack Butland, who has impressed as Stoke’s starting goalkeeper this season. Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Burnley’s Nick Pope are also in the squad, but it seems that the former Derby County goalie will be the last line of defence for the Three Lions in the upcoming friendlies.
The final uncapped player in the England squad is Lewis Cook, the Swansea midfielder who was the captain of last summer’s Under-20s World champions, and was already brought in as a late replacement last November, but is still looking for his first international cap at senior level. Jack Wilshere is back to the fold, having been out of the picture since Euro 2016, due to his good form and game time at Arsenal. Harry Kane, the star of the team, is out injured, but Southgate firmly believes that Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy could easily fill his shoes. As for Danny Welbeck, England boss stated that, even though he wanted his players playing for the club, and playing well, he couldn’t have stuck to such a rigid criteria, with the difficulty of selection at this particular moment.
There is still more than enough time before the World Cup starts, and the door is not shut on Gary Cahill, nor the likes of Phil Jones, Fabian Delph, Chris Smalling, Michael Keane and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.