Gareth Southgate will announce his 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday, 16 May.
It’s a bold choice from the England manager, particularly as there is still the FA Cup final to take place between Manchester United and Chelsea on Saturday 19 May.
The England camp currently has a number of players injured or just back from injury, such as Adam Lallana, Andy Carroll and Phil Jones. Naming the final squad before getting a number of players together to see where fitness levels are at is certainly an interesting call.
Southgate’s biggest decision may simply be deciding who his first-choice goalkeeper in Russia is going to be.
Joe Hart had been England’s number one for several years, even starting nine of England’s 10 World Cup qualifiers. However, the 75-time international didn’t start either of the Three Lions’ friendlies earlier this year.
During his loan spell at West Ham United from Manchester City this past season there was a clear dip in form from the 31-year-old. As a result Hart only started 19 of the Hammers’ Premier League games, ultimately losing his place to Adrian.
However, the bookmakers believe Southgate will include Joe Hart in his World Cup squad later this week. We found the best odds on the World Cup with Betfair offering 8/13 on the goalkeeper to be included.
Many believe Hart will go as the third choice simply based on his experience. It makes sense as the two favourites to claim the starting roll have just nine caps between them.
Stoke City’s Jack Butland has played seven times for England, whilst Everton’s Jordan Pickford has only played senior international football on two occasions. Betfair have given both goalkeepers odds of 1/50 to make the final squad – suggesting that either will be the number one.
It’s not clear yet as to whom will be the first choice though. In England’s two friendlies in March they started one each and Southgate only has two more friendlies, at the start of June, to make his final decision on the number one.
Football stat man Barrie’s View ran a poll over the weekend asking his followers who should be England’s number one over in Russia. The results from 149 votes had Jordan Pickford as the clear winner with 46%, followed up by Jack Butland’s 30%. Interestingly, Joe Hart only received a handful of votes totalling 5% of the vote. Whilst 19% of the fans voted for Burnley’s Nick Pope, the 26-year-old is relatively inexperienced at Premier League level and has never been capped by his country.