It’s 4 months until England name a provisional squad for Russia 2018 and things have changed quite a bit since the November internationals, so here are the movers and shakers amongst those not yet guaranteed a World Cup spot.
Who’d have thought this- Jesse Lingard: lethal number 10! At the start of December Lingard looked like he has for much of his career a Manchester United squad player and prime candidate to miss the final England cut to 23.
But his switch to number 10 has been a revelation Lingard has been in sensational form, scoring spectacular goals and providing a pace attacking threat far more to Mourinho’s liking than the cumbersome Henrikh Mkhitaryan. With England Lingard has yet to impress but on current form he has to play against Holland & Italy in March. Lingard will need to take his chance in March as he’s competing in the most hotly contested area of the team with Dele Alli & RaheemSterling already guaranteed a spot and Adam Lallana, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Demarai Gray and Ross Barkley all in contention for 2-3 spots in the squad.
Taking the Temperature: Boiling Point
It looked all over for Wilshere at the start of the season but a good run at Arsenal has brought him back into contention. His form has been good if not spectacular but more importantly he looks more durable than we’ve seen before.
I’ve said it before but will say it again: Games come thick and fast in tournament football and you can’t take a player whose fitness you don’t trust from the outset. Wilshere needs to play at least 90 minutes every week to go to the World Cup.
Taking the Temperature: Heating up nicely
It’s taken a long time but Shaw is finally in Jose Mourinho’s good books. Mourinho stated earlier in the season he was impressed with Shaw but the player needed a long run of games which United wouldn’t be able to offer the injury plagued left back.
But injuries elsewhere have forced the manager’s hand and Shaw has been playing consistently through Christmas and New Year. He’s still short of his best but he is getting game time and with Danny Rose’s fitness questionable Shaw is slowly working his way back into consideration.
Taking the Temperature: Thawing out
Winks won his England debut in September and followed up with some impressive Champions & Premier League performances for Spurs. But as is usually the case with youngsters Winks has found himself out of the side of late. He’s done enough to earn more chances for club and country but this isn’t the best time to be on the bench and with Wilshere back in the frame Winks might be out.
Taking the Temperature: Cooling off
Keane looked a certainty at the start of the season and whilst he’s not had a bad campaign he isn’t yet the pivotal player in Everton’s defence he needs to be to press his England claims. The switch to a back 3 means England need to take 5 centre backs in their final squad. Joe Gomez made an impressive debut and Harry Maguire has shown the ball playing skills necessary to make the cut whilst Gary Cahill, Phil Jones & John Stones are nailed on. Keane could be the odd man out.
Taking the Temperature: Frosty
Hart has done little wrong for England under Southgate but his club struggles have continued at West Ham after a poor season with Torino leading David Moyes to recall Adrian in goal for West Ham leaving Hart on the bench.
Southgate is unlikely to ditch his most experienced player from his squad, particularly with Tom Heaton injured and Fraser Forster looking woeful. But the Olympic Stadium bench isn’t the place to launch a World Cup campaign- if this continues surely Jordan Pickford will be England number 1 in June.
Taking the Temperature: Sub zero
Football fan, follower of England, Leeds and will watch any game possible (between raising twins!)