Team Profile - England

17 May 2018 09:23:13 EST

Coach: Gareth Southgate
Number of World Cup Appearances: 14
Best World Cup Performance: Winners in 1966
Number of World Cup Titles: 1 (1966)
Qualifying Form: Played: 10, Won: 8, Drawn: 2, Lost: 0
Major Trophies: 1 (World Cup - 1966)
Most Capped (current) Player: Joe Hart
Key Player at World Cup 2018: Harry Kane

Lead-up to the Tournament:
As has become tradition, England breezed through a soft qualifying group unbeaten - it was never really in doubt that they would reach the finals.

They finished eight points clear of their nearest rivals, kept eight clean sheets in ten games and conceded just three goals in total.

But such efforts haven’t translated to tournament success in the past and that concern remains among England fans.

Gritty draws with Germany, Brazil and Italy have all been secured since qualification, despite the absence of several key players, while the Netherlands were also beaten 1-0.

Expectations may now be ratcheted up - the English media has often hyped their team beyond reason.

However, after years of disappointments at major tournaments including just six knockout stage wins since their famous 1966 World Cup win, hopes of glory are definitely lower than they once were.

The Squad:
Manager Gareth Southgate, who replaced Sam Allardyce during the qualifying campaign, has not been afraid to blood youngsters during his time in charge and there are hopes that some of them can make a big impact in Russia.

Jesse Lingard and Harry Maguire are two such players who could well end up in the starting XI, while the likes of Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford are both still young guns, despite having been part of the set-up for some time.

Harry Kane is still only 24 and the Tottenham goal machine will be crucial if England are to go deep into the tournament, although recent ankle injury has appeared to stall his fine form and has certainly been a concern.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury setback is much worse. He had looked set to be part of Southgate’s plans, but has been ruled out of the tournament after damaging knee ligaments.

Southgate has turned to a back three in recent times and will hope that can help solidify a defence which was miserly in qualifying, but one the critics say remains an area of vulnerability.
The goalkeeping position is also a concern for some - after a sustained dip in form by the experienced Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford looks likely to be entrusted with the jersey.

Fixtures:
18th June - Tunisia, Volgograd Arena, Volgograd
24th June - Panama, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
28th June - Belgium, Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad

Provisional squad:
Goalkeepers:
Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley).
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United).
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

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