England head into the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on the back of two deep runs in international tournaments.
The Three Lions last reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018, while they lost in the Euro 2020 final last summer.
Gareth Southgate has finally announced his 26-man squad for the tournament. Here’s how it might turn out.
This is Southgate’s tried and trusted system. It’s unlikely to be seen by him unless things go completely awry in Qatar (which, you know, can’t be ruled out).
Despite their poor form so far this season, they are likely to rely on squad favorites such as Harry Maguire and Raheem Sterling, while the returning Kyle Walker is likely to replace Eric Dier in the starting line-up despite only recovering from groin surgery. Will make out for space.
Stand in line: Pickford Walker, Maguire, Stone; Trippier, Rice, Bellingham, Shaw; Mount, Stirling; Ken
So what if Southgate wants to keep their system but play with more aggression and flair? Well, he has enough options in his squad to go all guns blazing at the back end of games where they desperately need goals.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, often maligned for his international form, could come in at wing-back, while Bukayo Saka has played on the left side of the formation before.
Beyond them, Marcus Rashford could also come in to provide a direct threat.
Stand in line: Pickford Walker, Maguire, Stone; Alexander-Arnold, Rice, Bellingham, Sacca; Sterling, Kane, Rashford
From one balanced and neutral formation to another, Southgate is more likely to revert to a 4-3-3 if he chooses to deviate from the three-at-the-back system.
This would allow Kelvin Phillips to reintegrate as the only true holding midfielder in the team (Declan Rice has now moved on), while Walker will be able to play in his natural right-left position.
Stand in line: Pickford Walker, Maguire, Stone, Trippier; Phillips, Rice, Bellingham; Mount, Stirling; Ken
What if Southgate woke up one morning in his Qatar hotel suite and decided he was Mike Bassett? What do we do then?
Well, don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too as there are plenty of players who would suit the 4-4-2, such as winger Bukayo Saka and striker Callum Wilson.
Stand in line: Pickford Walker, Maguire, Stone, Trippier; Sterling, Rice, Bellingham, Sacca; Wilson, Ken
You remember at the 2018 World Cup where both England and Belgium basically tried to throw away their last group game to land on the ‘easy’ side of the knockout draw?
Well, what if Southgate wants to do it again?
After all, he has 26 players. There are several ways he can try to lose the game and rest his starters. What this team might look like.
Stand in line: Pope; White, Dyer, Cody; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Madison, Shaw; Foden, Grealish; Wilson