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Southgate opts for youth over experience

Hart and Wilshere out; Alexander-Arnold and Loftus-Cheek in for World Cup

Agencies
18:31 May 16, 2018

London: England manager Gareth Southgate named a youthful 23-man World Cup squad on Wednesday with several notable absentees.

Experienced goalkeeper Joe Hart was left out of the squad for Russia, as was Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere who between them have been capped more than 100 times.

Everton’s Jordan Pickford, one of three keepers selected, is expected to start in goal in England’s opening match against Tunisia on June 18.

Liverpool’s uncapped 19-year-old right back Trent Alexander-Arnold is the youngest member of the squad after being given a surprise call-up, while Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on loan at Crystal Palace, is also included.

Southgate opted to name his final 23-man squad rather than a larger provisional one, as is usually the case, although he has put five players on a standby list.

“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,“ he said.

“It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.

“We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop.

“The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.”

England play friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica on June 2 and June 7 before leaving for Russia five days later.

— Agencies