England looking forward to 2018 Worldcup

The draw for World Cup 2018 qualifying has been made but what might England’s side look like by then?

Although Jack Butland could challenge if he takes the opportunity presented to him following Asmir Begovic’s departure from Stoke, as long as Joe Hart maintains his position in the Manchester City goal it’s difficult to see anyone taking his place. Hart will be 31 by the time of the next World Cup – a mere pup in goalkeeping terms. Peter Shilton, David Seaman and David James have all started World Cup knockout games for England after turning 38.

Nathaniel Clyne has been involved recently without really nailing the right-back role, but with Glen Johnson out of the picture and Phil Jones surely not a long-term prospect at full-back, the ex-Southampton man’s move to Liverpool should give him the chance to seal a regular slot in the England starting line-up.

In the heart of defence, John Stones appears earmarked for the top with the main question being who will partner him. Gary Cahill is the man in possession but will turn 32 in 2017 and could well be under pressure for his Chelsea place before then if John Terry continues to defy time. Might Manchester United utility man Jones finally fulfil his long-discussed promise?

England are blessed with left-back options, at least. Leighton Baines, already 30, has a task on his hands to hold off the challenge of younger pretenders all the way to Russia. Kieran Gibbs, Danny Rose and Aaron Creswell will all have ambitions at international level but Luke Shaw would seem the man most likely providing he can overcome the fitness issues that plagued his debut season at Old Trafford.

Midfield

Jordan Henderson has inherited Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool captaincy, while Jack Wilshere looks to have made Gerrard’s role as England’s pivotal midfielder his own. Neither man is a natural holder but with high hopes that both will grow in maturity over the next years, it may be that they could develop into a strong partnership at the base of England’s midfield.

The options further forwards are unlikely to alter too much with the incumbents all fairly young as it is. As such, there is little reason to expect major squad changes. Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have the talent to continue their progress, while Theo Walcott will also be involved, but many will be hoping that Ross Barkley can kick on too and fulfil his vast potential as a No 10.

Attack

Harry Kane has work to do to show his season was no flash in the pan, but the Tottenham forward has the attitude, fitness and skills to establish himself as his country’s No 9. Of course, the challenge facing Kane is the same one that has faced every England forward over the past decade – ousting Wayne Rooney. The United captain turns 33 in the October of 2018 but he’s been written off before. Could the skipper still be leading the team to Russia?

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