Jack Butland takes the spot in goal ahead of Joe Hart following an excellent start to the season, having finally had to the chance to prove his worth at the Britannia following the departure of Asmir Begovic. The young shot stopper is in Hodgson’s squad having captained the U21s at the Euros during the summer and rightly so, having made the most saves in this season’s Premier League (37), with a rating of 7.16 for Stoke since the turn of the year.
He may not have had the chance to showcase his true ability for Spurs thus far but Kieran Trippier’s impressive form for Burnley this year earned him a move to White Hart Lane and a place in the top-rated English XI at right-back. Despite the fact that the 25-year-old hasn’t featured in the league this season, he still leads the way in 2015 in terms of accurate crosses (58), producing three assists and a WhoScored.com rating of 7.29.Trippier’s new Spurs teammate Danny Rose takes his place on the opposite flank, though he too is struggling for playing time in north London. Minor injury problems have hampered his start to the campaign and despite earning the highest rating for Spurs in the recent derby clash with Arsenal (7.26), he continues to be overlooked in the league right now, with Ben Davies getting the nod. That after Rose enjoyed something of a breakthrough season last time out, with only Harry Kane earning a higher rating of Spurs players to start more than 20 matches in 2014/15.
The centre-back pairing is a familiar one to England fans, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jagielka completing the back four. The former is the top Englishman since the turn of the year according to WhoScored.com’s ratings (7.46), with Jagielka not far behind (7.40). Smalling has come on leaps and bounds in 2015 to become an integral member of Louis van Gaal’s side. No defender has scored more goals in the Premier League in that time (3), while the calming influence of Daley Blind has had a positive impact on his composure at the back.
All the noise surrounding Everton has been the development of John Stones, though one can’t doubt Toffees captain Jagielka’s role in that progression. After a disappointing start to last season the veteran returned to form following Stones’ promotion to the starting line-up and his interceptions per game have almost doubled from last season (1.5) this time out (2.8).
There is an unfancied pairing on the flanks, with Marc Albrighton and Wilfried Zaha enjoying an impressive year to date. The former has played an influential if understated role in what has been a sensational 10 months for Leicester, registering six assists in 20 appearances, while only three players – including the aforementioned Trippier – have delivered more accurate crosses in 2015.
Zaha, like Albrighton with Mahrez, has often played second fiddle to his teammate on the opposite wing in the form of Yannick Bolasie, but has looked back to his best at times this season. That was certainly the case at the weekend, when a man-of-the-match performance earned the former United wide man a rating of 9.20, completing nine dribbles in a 2-0 win over West Brom. Once tipped as the brightest young talent in the country, if Zaha can work on his consistency, he may yet be in with an outside shot for a recall.
Lining up in midfield, new Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson – sidelined for the upcoming double header – is partnered by another uncapped hopeful. Jack Cork is an underrated star at Swansea and while, like Jonjo Shelvey, his form has dropped since the previous international break, the 26-year-old has been vital to Monk’s side since moving to Wales in January. Cork has earned a rating of 7.12 in that time, with Coquelin the only midfielder to produce more interceptions (66).
The front two is as expected, with Harry Kane joined by Jamie Vardy after the latter’s superb start to the 2015/16 season. Despite a slow start to the campaign, netting a decisive own goal at the weekend, only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals this year than Kane (17), with five of the Argentine’s 18 coming on Saturday. Vardy, meanwhile, has 11 goals in the same time and a league-high of 7 this season, and when factoring his 7 assists since the turn of the year only Kane (20) and Aguero (24) have had a direct hand in more goals in the Premier League.
With the likes of Dier and Grealish also thought to be knocking on the door, Hodgson is expected to experiment a little in the friendlies between now and Euro 2016, and rightly so given the downturn in form of some of England’s regulars. If he really is keen to pick a squad based on form, the current crop would arguably be very different to the 23 named last Thursday.
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