LONDON (AFP) – England manager Gareth Southgate refuted he is planning for the future by picking his country’s third youngest ever squad for a World Cup, insisting his youthful 23-man group was picked purely on form.
Veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere were among the big names to miss out on Southgate’s squad, whilst 19-year-old uncapped Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold was included.
“In terms of Joe of course it was a difficult call, he’s played in most of our qualifying matches and been a big part, a valued member of the squad,” said Southgate yesterday.
“I had to look at performances…in the end the three lads we’ve picked have been the best three English goalkeepers.” Southgate accepted that England will lack the experience of tournament favourites Brazil, Germany, Spain and France, but lamented the lack of English players in the Premier League to choose from.
“We are not picking young players because we are trying to buy ourselves time, we are picking young players because we believe they are the best,” he added.
“Maybe it is brave to take players without the number of caps, but we have to give these guys belief.
“We know we have not got the number of caps of Germany, Spain or Brazil but that’s where we are at.
“We pick from 33 percent of the league which is quite a unique situation but there is excitement with where we are going.”