It really is only just over a month since we last did one of these. As ever, these are not our thoughts, but our estimations of Gareth Southgate’s thoughts were he to pick a squad for Russia now. Go…
1 (1) Harry Kane
Can you bulk-buy cotton wool in CostCo? It might be time to stock up because Harry Kane is the only man in a likely 23-man squad who has reached double figures in England goals. A quick glance at Germany’s likely squad reveals six players who have reached that landmark. It’s been an encouraging week for England’s defenders but three on-target shots in 180 minutes shows how much we need Kane.
2 (4) John Stones
Ah, so this is the John Stones we were promised. Isn’t he bloody great? Thirteen clean sheets in 21 games for club and country this season is not bad at all. As the Daily Telegraph’s Jason Burt wrote: ‘He represents the hope that things can progress and that the football England can play is moving forward and that there is faith and belief in a player like Stones. He has been England’s best player against the best two teams in the world.’ Indeed.
3 (9) Eric Dier
Daniel Storey wrote last month: ‘How many times have we said that we don’t worry about Dier against the likes of Malta and Slovenia, but Germany and Brazil? Next month, England are playing Germany and Brazil, so it might be sink or swim time for Dier. Unfortunately, the talent pool of English central midfielders is so shallow that even sinking to the bottom keeps your place on the plane reserved.’ Well he played, he captained, and they didn’t concede, so up the ladder he goes. And yes, it makes us sob a little.
4 (8) Kyle Walker
Playing so bloody excellently for Manchester City that he is surely England’s first-choice wing-back by some distance. Obviously could not showcase his thrust against Brazil but in the group stages, his new-found intelligence and all-round game will be key. Thank you Pep, for paying an English premium for players and then actually creating English premium players.
A professional performance tonight against one of the best teams in the world. It was a pleasure to share the same pitch as you @DaniAlvesD2 after watching and admiring you over the years! 🦁🦁🦁 #threelions @England pic.twitter.com/YnLch3RMFv
— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) November 15, 2017
5 (2) Dele Alli
There is no doubt that Alli’s stock has fallen somewhat, regardless of what the tabloids would have you believe about interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona. This has been nothing more than a so-so season so far and he has not scored for England in over a year – not a good look for a player who is essentially a No. 10. Still, his place is assured.
6 (5) Marcus Rashford
Ah, finally a player neither at Tottenham nor Manchester City and it is the Manchester United youngster who this week found himself in the curious position of being one of the more experienced England internationals in the current squad at the age of 20. ‘Is it a case of him or Raheem Sterling to start with Dele Alli and Harry Kane?’ asked Daniel Storey after the Brazil game; yes, and right now Rashford probably just edges it.
7 (10) Raheem Sterling
No goals for England since October 2015 for Sterling makes Alli look positively prolific. He might be the best English player in the Premier League right now but the confidence he has been gifted at City by Pep Guardiola is yet to transfer itself to England. We love him but we feel nervous for him in an England shirt; it’s difficult to see that changing.
8 (6) Gary Cahill
Being absent as England keep both Germany and Brazil at bay does Cahill few favours, but he has the advantage of being the only likely outfield player with 30-plus years and 50-plus caps on his CV. As long as he is starting with Chelsea, he will be in Gareth Southgate’s plans. He’s not that radical, we don’t think.
9 (3) Adam Lallana
As we wrote last month: ‘Absence makes the heart grow far fonder than makes us comfortable.’ England desperately need his creativity and we are keeping fingers crossed that he returns with all the vim and vigour that has marked his Liverpool career under Jurgen Klopp. England have looked a little stodgy in his absence.
10 (18) Danny Rose
England’s best left-back is once again a fully functioning footballer and we could not be more pleased. Certainly better against Germany than Ryan Bertrand was against Brazil; welcome back, Danny boy.
11 (7) Jordan Henderson
We sleep a little easier with Henderson a little further down the ladder but realistically we know that he will a) go to Russia and b) probably start. Really we needed to see Harry Winks against Germany or Brazil to prove he is a better option that the slow deliberation and ultimate frustration of Henderson.
12 (12) Joe Hart
It might annoy plenty of people that Hart is still England’s No. 1, but until he lets down England (and he really didn’t either in qualifying or against Brazil this week), he will remain No. 1. The good news is that we have genuinely exciting competition for places in that (small) area of the pitch. And no, we don’t mean Angus Gunn.
13 (13) Phil Jones
“Not just this season but there was a long period in the middle of last season where I think he has been the best defender,” said Gareth Southgate in September. He might have revised that opinion now he has seen John Stones up close, and Jones has played only 25 minutes of football for England in the last four internationals. If only he weren’t made of balsa wood.
14 (20) Jamie Vardy
The Plan B that England absolutely need because there really is nobody else. The top English Premier League scorers this season: Kane (8), Sterling (7), Vardy (6), Glenn Murray/Tammy Abraham/Wayne Rooney (4). What more evidence do you need?
15 (14) Jack Butland
Oh Jack. You were about to start against Germany (probably) and you get yourself injured again. We are cheered that England have genuine goalkeeping options and the battle post-Hart really could be a humdinger.
16 (19) Jordan Pickford
Excellent against Germany to banish any lingering fears of a returning Tom Heaton. We can now take him off all those ‘most expensive uncapped Englishmen’ lists.
— Buzza (@buzza9676) November 10, 2017
17 (16) Michael Keane
We are assuming that his absence against Germany and Brazil owed more to a lingering injury than any doubts held by Southgate, who started him against Lithuania last month and has gushed about the Everton man, whose club form can only get better when the Toffees finally decide on a manager.
18 (22) Kieran Trippier
Playing a three/five-man defence makes right wing-back a specialist position so the days of Jamie Carragher or Phil Jones being taken to ‘do a job’ there are thankfully over. Or at least thankfully for Trippier, who has been boosted further by the news of Nathaniel Clyne’s lengthy absence this week. We’re calling it; pack a bag, Kieran.
19 (21) Harry Winks
Wrote Daniel Storey last month: ‘The big call, and the one that may make Sarah Winterburn sigh the next time she does this ladder. I have a reputation for getting over-excited about young players, you see. Winks being called up to the squad got him into the top 40. Winks starting against Lithuania got him in the top 30. Winks being Man of the Match on his debut got him in the 23. Now he needs some games for Tottenham.’ For once I’m not sighing; since then Winks has started every Premier League game and faced Real Madrid twice. He would have been much higher on the ladder if he had been fit to face – and cope with – Germany or Brazil.
20 (11) Ryan Bertrand
The formation does not help. Danny Rose being back does not help. Ashley Young playing for Manchester United does not help. He is in for now, but I have a sneaky feeling that England’s qualification left-back might be England’s third-choice left wing-back come June.
21 (40) Joe Gomez
Now that’s what we call a high climber. That’s what being Man of the Match against one of the best attacks in the world can do for a young man. “Joe has been one of the best young players in our system for a long time. He has come back from an ACL injury and showed great character and tonight he’s had a wonderful experience. It gives me plenty to think about,” said Southgate. Right now, he’s ahead of the unpredictable Harry Maguire and poor Chris Smalling, crying quietly at home.
22 (28) Fabian Delph
Yes, I can see you shaking your head. And yes, this does tell us exactly how desperate England’s central midfield problem has become. When the alternative is Jake Livermore, we are very much Team Delph. Apparently he is still only 27, which is blowing our minds.
23 (42) Ruben Loftus-Cheek
This has all suddenly got quite interesting, hasn’t it? And it really does give a massive thumbs-up to Chelsea’s much-criticised loan system. He went on loan, he played football, he got his England chance and he took it. Now to keep on keeping on.
Ruben Loftus Cheek being subbed off for Jesse Lingard is like your ma promising you pizza, but she buys a smart price Asda one instead of Dominos.
— WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (@KingKimboAyIt) November 14, 2017
24 (23) Jesse Lingard
We cannot pretend to be unhappy that much better players have moved ahead of a man who plays a bit-part role for Manchester United and really should be playing almost no part at all for England. It’s incredibly difficult to understand why he has been given a pass on the ‘must be playing Premier League football’ front.
25 (25) Harry Maguire
As Daniel wrote on Tuesday night: ‘Maguire might be England’s sixth-choice central defender (Stones, Jones, Cahill, Keane, Gomez), and I’m absolutely fine with that.’ So am I.
26 (49) Ashley Young
If you are a regular English starter for a top-six Premier League club, you will probably be in the England squad. And he is usefully versatile. And unusually – in this group – old and experienced.
27 (15) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Let’s look at what we wrote last month: ‘Dreadful against Slovenia and can’t buy a league start for Liverpool following a £35m move. And yet he’s still in 15th on this ladder. We’re in so much trouble in Russia, aren’t we? Like pants down, against the wall, metre-long cane trouble.’ Look how much can change in a month when the England manager has a plan and is really sodding stubborn.
28 (17) Danny Welbeck
There’s a point when even we have to admit that Dat Guy is just not Dat Guy often enough.
29 (27) Chris Smalling
“We want to play in a certain way and the players I have brought in I want to see using the ball from the back and building it up in a certain way.” Brutal. He is clearly the one exception to the rule about regular English starters for top-six Premier League clubs.
30 (26) Daniel Sturridge
Right now it feels like his only real chance is to hope for an injury to the man at the very top of this ladder. Just four Premier League starts this season so far and little indication that those numbers will significantly rise. It’s a shame because he is genuinely rather good.
31 (29) Jake Livermore
You know it’s gone badly when you start against Germany and Brazil, keep two clean sheets and still end up falling down the reckoning.
32 (24) Nathaniel Clyne
This was not the season to get actually, properly injured.
33 (39) Tammy Abraham
Quite right that he should be ahead of Jermain Defoe right now. And he did just about enough against Germany to justify that call.
34 (30) Aaron Cresswell
One of the players Southgate identified as not really deserving of an England squad place. Hardly anybody even noticed he had been dropped.
Our very own Aaron Cresswell lost out to Danny Rose for the left back position for #England even though Rose has been out injured for most the season.
Who's the better left back? #COYI #THFC Pls Retweet
— Hammers Polls (@HammersPolls) November 11, 2017
35 (34) Danny Drinkwater
Alan Shearer believes he should never get another England call. We doubt Southgate will be quite so draconian but turning down an England call is not a good look, even if you are a bit injured. Letting the physios decide that and sending you home is the way to do it, rightly or wrongly.
36 (31) Nathaniel Chalobah
Still somehow uncapped while Jack Cork now has a little (1) next to his name. What a truly rotten time to get injured.
37 (33) Ross Barkley
As last month: ‘Injured, and so dropping with each edition. I still suspect that a run of four or five good games after joining Tottenham in January would see Barkley propelled up this list because he’s exactly the type of player managers like, but there are too many ‘ifs’ at play for Barkley to justify a place any higher up this ladder.’
38 (35) Tom Heaton
Only injuries will now see him take the unlikely journey from Burnley to Russia.
39 (32) Jermain Defoe
Two Premier League goals in nine months. His time has gone.
40 (36) Jack Wilshere
We did feel sorry for him when Jack Cork and Lewis Cook were called up, but now he absolutely knows what he needs to do: Get a move and play bloody football. Because there are about 30 footballers with less talent higher up this list.
41 (43) Dominic Solanke
42 (NE) Jack Cork
43 (38) Theo Walcott
44 (37) Luke Shaw
45 (NE) Lewis Cook
46 (47) Jamaal Lascelles
47 (NE) James Tarkowski
48 (NE) Lewis Dunk
49 (41) Nathan Redmond
50 (50) Phil Neville
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