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Picking the England Squad for the 2018 World Cup

Garry HayesFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2017

Picking the England Squad for the 2018 World Cup

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    Michael Sohn/Associated Press

    With England already knocked out of Brazil 2014, attentions are now shifting to the next World Cup, which will be held in Russia in 2018.

    How many of the current squad will make it? Will there be many new faces who make enough of an impression in the next four years to earn a place?

    It's all conjecture, of course, but given the youthful feel of Roy Hodgson's squad this summer, the future has a brighter look to it than many fans and pundits may be suggesting in the immediate aftermath of their Brazilian collapse.

    Playing the role of England manager, Bleacher Report makes an early prediction on who may well make the plane to Moscow in 2018.

     

Goalkeepers

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Joe Hart

    The Manchester City stopper is England's current No. 1 and unless any of his understudies enjoy a considerable rise in form and ability, it should remain that way ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

     

    Fraser Forster

    Ben Foster will be 35 years old come the next World Cup, and while he would still be of a good age when it comes to goalkeepers, the next four years are expected to see Fraser Forster become Joe Hart's main challenger.

    Currently plying his trade for Celtic, the 26-year-old has built up an impressive reputation, and a move to one of Europe's major leagues will help continue his development.

     

    Jack Butland

    Still only 21 years old, Jack Butland is England's big hope for the long-term future. Come 2018, with more experience, he will be challenging the likes of Joe Hart and Fraser Forster for the No. 1 jersey.

    Like Hart in 2010, the World Cup in Russia may well prove slightly too early given the players ahead of him, but his potential now suggests he will be among the 23-man squad.

Defenders

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    John Stones

    The Everton youngster was part of the initial England squad that traveled to Portugal and the USA before Roy Hodgson trimmed it down to 23 players.

    He can play either right-back or in the middle of defence, and with four years ahead of him at Everton, he is being tipped to become a regular for club and country in that time.

     

    Gary Cahill

    Arguably one of England's best hopes for the centre-back position now the likes of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand have retired from the international stage.

    Gary Cahill will be 32 come the 2018 World Cup and as England's stand-out defender now, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet, let alone in the squad.

     

    Michael Keane

    After loan spells with Leicester City, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers, Michael Keane will be aiming to make the most of the transition at Manchester United by winning a place in Louis van Gaal's new-look defence. With England going through similar changes, he may well make it into Roy Hodgson's thoughts, too.

    He will be 25 come the next World Cup, so with experience and playing time for United, he will be one to watch.

     

    Phil Jones

    He's been around the Premier League for that long, it's a surprise Phil Jones is still only 22 years old. The Manchester United defender needs to make his mark as a centre-back, as being played out of position on the right or in midfield is damaging his progress.

    If Louis van Gaal deploys him in his natural position, England will have a talented centre-back to challenge for a starting place come 2018.

     

    Luke Shaw

    The Southampton left-back will be 22 at the next World Cup and able to boast experience of playing at the highest level. His performance against Costa Rica in England's final game of Brazil 2014 was promising, and he's going to be England's first-choice for the foreseeable future.

     

    Leighton Baines

    It was an underwhelming World Cup in Brazil by his own standards, but Leighton Baines still has plenty to offer the Three Lions. He may well have to play a back-up role to Luke Shaw, but even in 2018 he will be an asset England will consider.

     

    Jon Flanagan

    Another of the players to narrowly miss the cut for Brazil 2014, Jon Flanagan is beginning to live up to the hype that has long surrounded him at Liverpool.

    He was solid for the Reds at left-back last term, but playing in a more natural position on the right may well see him become England's first-choice right-back ahead of current teammate Glen Johnson.

     

    Kyle Walker

    Right now, it's difficult to choose another supporting right-back ahead of Kyle Walker. The Tottenham Hotspur man needs to work on his defensive attributes as he often finds himself caught out against the finest wingers, making unforced errors.

    Apart from him, though, England are short of quality and it's an area they need to address.

Midfielders

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Jack Wilshere

    He was largely disappointing at Brazil 2014, but with injuries and a lack of game time damaging his season last year, it was perhaps too much to ask for the Arsenal midfielder to be firing on all cylinders for his country this summer.

    That said, he is an exceptional talent, and at 22, England should build the midfield around him playing off the attackers further forward.

     

    Jordan Henderson

    At Euro 2012, Jordan Henderson was a surprise addition to the squad, benefiting from injuries elsewhere. At Brazil 2014 he was a starter and he did himself justice, adding pace to the deep-lying midfield position alongside Steven Gerrard.

    He has more to learn and add to his game, but he will develop with this young England team and become a better player.

     

    Nathaniel Chalobah

    An outside shot already, the 19-year-old is beginning to get a reputation after loan spells with Watford and Middlesbrough. The Chelsea youth product is talented and has shown he can be dynamic playing in a defensive midfield role—an area where England are short on numbers.

    In four years, he should have done enough to become a regular at Stamford Bridge, and if not, he will undoubtedly be playing Premier League football.

     

    Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

    Were it not for his knee injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would have had a major role to play at Brazil 2014. He is an energetic player, with plenty of pace and skill to frighten defenders, and will allow England to develop the attacking instincts we saw at the World Cup. Still only 20, he has a bright future ahead.

     

    Ross Barkley

    Similar to Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley's performance against Costa Rica has shown that he needs to be starting games for England. He will be 24 when the 2018 World Cup comes around and a better player for all he has experienced this summer.

    This is a young England team and as the likes of Barkley mature, the Three Lions are going to take some beating.

     

    Raheem Sterling

    He has burst onto the scene in the past couple of seasons and if the Liverpool winger continues in a similar vein, we may well be talking about him as one of the world's finest players.

    Another player who will still be in his early 20s come Russia 2018, Sterling is going to be vital at the next World Cup and beyond.

     

    Andros Townsend

    The Tottenham Hotspur winger missed the World Cup through injury and would have deserved his place among Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad given his role in helping England qualify.

    He brings natural width and his instincts as an out-and-out winger were missed in Brazil, with England guilty of playing too narrowly at times. He will be 26 at the next World Cup, so potentially has two more tournaments in him to make an impression for his country.

     

    Adam Lallana

    At 30, the Southampton midfielder could well be the oldest player in his position for England come 2018, and that's a major positive to consider for the Three Lions.

    He impressed when given the chance in Brazil, and should his form continue, there's no reason why he will not be boarding the plane to Russia in four years time.

Strikers

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Dominic Solanke

    Is there a more prolific English striker in youth football right now? Still only 16 years old, Dominic Solanke is a player set to make a big impression for Chelsea and England in the coming seasons.

    It's been a productive year for the youngster, scoring the goals that helped Chelsea win the FA Youth Cup, while he was also on hand to score in the final of the U17s European Championship as England went on to beat Holland.

    He will still be a raw talent come 2018, but England have a history of strikers becoming heroes in their youth—Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney to name just two.

     

    Daniel Sturridge

    The Liverpool frontman left Brazil with one goal to his name and will be the first to admit he should have scored more, especially against Costa Rica, where wasted chances saw him pass on a potential hat-trick.

    Daniel Sturridge is England's best striker right now and there's no reason to suggest it won't be the case in four years, either.

     

    Wayne Rooney

    Three World Cups have passed England's golden boy by, so Wayne Rooney will count himself fortunate if he's given another bite at the cherry in 2018. He knows he should have delivered far more on the biggest stage, but with all that has passed, his experience come the next World Cup will be vital.

    Rooney will be 33 then, potentially playing a role from the bench, but he will still be an important member of this England team.

     

    Theo Walcott

    Whereas Wayne Rooney has wasted his chance to shine at World Cups, Theo Walcott has been incredibly unfortunate.

    Taken as a 17-year-old in 2006, Walcott has missed the 2010 and 2014 tournaments through injury and a ruthless omission from Fabio Capello. If he gets his way at Arsenal, Walcott will be playing more centrally come 2018 and with his pace, will be a major threat up front. His record of five goals in 36 caps will need to improve, though.

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