Over half a century of hurt
2018 – the year England ended over half a century of hurt. That’ll sound good to long-suffering fans but how realistic is it that a team led by Gareth Southgate will be crowned kings of the planet?
Interestingly, unlike previous renewals, bookmakers haven’t been in a mad rush to keep the team close – Sportingbet confident enough to offer a chunky 18/1. That’s market best price but the competition isn’t far off. On paper they have a squad to match anyone and, once again, The Three Lions roared through qualification but it’s now time to deliver when it matters.
Getting to a World Cup is all well and good but to then fall flat on your face won’t wash with fans any longer. The squad is present and correct, there’s confidence in the ranks, let’s see it happen.
Here’s three Englishman we expect to have a major say…..
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Kane ranked among the best by bookies
The Tottenham forward missed a few friendlies due to injury, but he’ll be the first name on Southgate’s teamsheet if he declares himself fit to fly to Russia and we’re certain he will be handed a seat on the plane even if he’s only 50% right. A proven goal scorer the 24-year-old from London is improving season on season, both in the white of his club and country.
Tabloids will have him linked with every cash-rich European super-power during the transfer window, but the youngster will want left alone to do what he does best – score match-winning goals. On course to break a number of club records, Kane also banged in a dozen goals in his first 23 call-ups to the full-squad. Traders across the board recognise his threat and the betting makes for interesting reading. 16/1 to be the tournament’s leading scorer he’s third favourite, just six points bigger than Lionel Messi.
If Kane is the first name on the England team-sheet we don’t think Sterling will be too far behind judging on his performances for Manchester City this season. The attacking midfielder made the short-list for player of the season in the Premier League and there was no argument from fans or critics on that one. He’s been a consistent performer for The Cityzens behind everything good about his club side this season on-route to the title.
Failed to perform vs Liverpool in the Champions League at Anfield when losing 3-0 but he possesses the pace, trickery and imagination to get England up the park and will have no problems laying chances on a plate for Kane and whoever partners him – Marcus Rashford or Jamie Vardy. If the men in front are receiving too much attention from defenders, Sterling has more than enough fire-power to score the goals himself. Already has a couple at international level.
At present it’s a toss-up between Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland to take a place between the sticks. Both will be on Russian soil this summer and we think the Everton youngster should get the call. He has impressed in what has been a tough first season at Goodison Park and his abilities are beyond question. The number one will go from strength-to-strength, we’re sure of that.
A calmness beyond his 24 years and limited experience at this level, the well-travelled shot-stopper has progressed through the England ranks from U16 to the seniors. Played against Holland in a friendly and kept a clean-sheet. Was dropped out for the Italy game a few days later and Butland conceded a late penalty. That was his second blank in as many starts and we don’t think he’ll come under too much pressure during the group stages. Belgium is where he’ll earn his corn.