Four former Aston Villa players were named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
In case you missed it, on Wednesday, England manager Gareth Southgate revealed his 23-man squad for the FIFA World Cup + a 5-man standby list for injury. The Three Lions’ complete list can be found here.
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gary Cahill, Eric Dier, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Danny Rose, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ashley Young.
Midfielders: Dele Alli, Fabian Delph, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Forwards: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck.
Standby: Lewis Cook, Tom Heaton, Adam Lallana, Jake Livermore, James Tarkowski.
For Aston Villa, this represents many throwback memories. Manchester United fullback/winger Ashley Young spent five productive seasons in the claret and blue shirt, amassing 190 appearances and 38 goals from 2006 through 2010. In Russia, Young should serve as a reserve in both wingback roles for Southgate’s preferred 5-back formation.
Though he was not in Birmingham long, so too is Kyle Walker a former Villan. Walker spent half-a- season on-loan in 2010/2011, scoring twice in 18 appearances across all competitions. The Premier League winner will fill-in either at right wingback or the right side of a center back trio.
Gary Cahill’s Villa plaudits are well known, just see below: He played in 31 total matches across a handful of seasons. Of note, however, Cahill came through the Aston Villa academy. He’s expected to serve as a reserve center back and veteran voice in the locker room.
Lastly, there’s good ole’ Fabian Delph. We don’t talk about him much around here. The Manchester City left back/center midfielder is a jack-of-all trades, but will probably see more time in midfield in Russia.
As an American with absolutely zero vesting interest in England football, I can say this with complete objectivity. The squad is far better than many are making it out to be. I think England is a shoe-in for the quarter-finals, in part because Tunisia and Panama are two of the weakest five teams in the tournament.
But the roster construction is a little off. There are too many defenders, as many as eleven, depending on what you make of Eric Dier and Delph. Southgate is also missing a ball-carrying midfielder or two (cough, cough, Grealish).