Previous
AEK Athens
Bayern Munich
4:55 PM UTC
Game Details
Young Boys
Valencia
4:55 PM UTC
Game Details
Ajax Amsterdam
Benfica
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Shakhtar Donetsk
Manchester City
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
TSG Hoffenheim
Lyon
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
AS Roma
CSKA Moscow
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Real Madrid
Viktoria Plzen
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Manchester United
Juventus
7:00 PM UTC
Game Details
Next

Spurs' Walker-Peters confident, hungry for more

Tottenham
Read

Kane 'booed' by golf fans at The Open

Blog - The Toe Poke
Read

Man United need to show Rashford he has a future

Manchester United
Read

France beware, sympathy for Neymar, importance of VAR

World Cup
Read

England World Cup squad predictions: Rashford in, but no Wilshere

Despite England's recent struggles, Ian Darke and the ESPN panel are cautiously optimistic about England's World Cup chances.

Gareth Southgate is set to announce his 23-man World Cup squad on Wednesday, with the England manager determined to name his travelling party early in order to ensure full focus on the challenge ahead in Russia.

So he should he pick? And who will he end up selecting? Here is the ESPN FC selection, and the squad Southgate is expected to name.

GOALKEEPERS

Gareth Southgate has a headache in goal with a lack of tournament experience among his options, with the exception of Joe Hart, whose form on loan for West Ham this season barely merits a place at the World Cup. So should Southgate go with form or experience?

JORDAN PICKFORD: The Everton No.1 is now ahead of Jack Butland in the pecking order after a good first season at Goodison Park. Still prone to over-confidence, but he is England's best option right now.

JACK BUTLAND: Injuries have halted the Stoke keeper's progress and relegation will not have helped his confidence, but he is certain to go as Southgate's No. 2.

NICK POPE: Still uncapped, the Burnley keeper was called into the senior squad in March. He kept 11 clean sheets in 35 league games this season and, as the form keeper, he should get the nod over the out-of-sorts, though experienced, Joe Hart. But he probably won't.

Prediction: Pickford, Butland, Hart

DEFENDERS

John Stones will be a key man.

With Southgate keen to play with three at the back, he needs full-backs who can comfortably slot into that system. He also needs versatility and players able to bring the ball out from the back.

KYLE WALKER: The Manchester City right-back is a certainty to start the opening game against Tunisia. Can play at full-back or in a back three.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD: Kieran Trippier's indifferent season for Tottenham has opened the door for the Liverpool defender. Still raw at 19, but his ability to play in midfield is an added bonus. Has big-game experience from Liverpool's Champions League exploits.

JOHN STONES: In and out of the team at Manchester City, but Stones is crucial to Southgate's team and will be on the plane to Russia.

HARRY MAGUIRE: An impressive season for Leicester has given Maguire his passport to the World Cup and he could play alongside Stones in a back four.

PHIL JONES: Southgate rates the Manchester United man as his best natural defender and, if he avoids injury in the build-up, he will go to Russia. Injuries are the big concern, though.

GARY CAHILL: The Chelsea defender was dropped from Southgate's last squad, but has returned to form for his club and deserves selection for Russia ahead of less experienced rivals.

RYAN BERTRAND: Left-back is a problem position for Southgate, but with Luke Shaw and Danny Rose struggling for form and fitness this season, Southampton's Bertrand should get the nod.

ASHLEY YOUNG: At 32, Young will bring crucial experience and versatility to the squad. He can play on both flanks at full-back, or as a winger, and could even start ahead of Bertrand at the World Cup.

Prediction: Walker, Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Jones, Cahill, Bertrand, Young.

MIDFIELD

Adam Lallana has had injuries but should still go.

Injuries have hit Southgate's midfield options. The England manager will have to take some gambles, but don't expect him to take a risk on Jack Wilshere.

ERIC DIER: The Tottenham midfielder is a certainty for Russia. He gives Southgate the option of playing him in midfield or at centre-back if the manager takes just three in his squad to the World Cup.

DELE ALLI: He may face a battle with Jesse Lingard for a starting spot after losing his regular starting position under Southgate, but Alli will definitely make the plane.

JORDAN HENDERSON: Nailed on to make the squad and a strong candidate to be the England captain after leading Liverpool to the Champions League final.

JESSE LINGARD: The Manchester United midfielder has played under Southgate since his time in the Under-21s and is highly-rated by the manager. Offers goals, invention and pace.

JAKE LIVERMORE: Relegated with West Brom, but Southgate has been impressed with Livermore during his time in the squad over the past 18 months.

ADAM LALLANA: A big gamble. Injuries have restricted the 30-year-old to just 15 appearances for Liverpool this season, but Southgate is a huge fan of Lallana and he will select him if fit.

RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK: The Chelsea midfielder has gained first-team experience at Crystal Palace this season and was outstanding on his senior debut against Germany last November. Has injury issues to overcome before he can be considered.

FABIAN DELPH: Injuries have forced the Manchester City man to miss squads this season, but if he can play in a title-winning team at the Etihad, the midfielder / defender should be on the plane to Russia.

Prediction: Dier, Alli, Henderson, Lingard, Livermore, Lallana, Loftus-Cheek.

Marcus Rashford should make the plane.

Southgate has a world-class option in Harry Kane and a man in form with Jamie Vardy, but Marcus Rashford has endured a tough season at Manchester United. With Danny Welbeck his only other viable option, Raheem Sterling's form at Manchester City should see him go as a forward rather than a midfielder.

HARRY KANE: The Spurs forward picks himself after hitting 30 Premier League goals this season. He is certain to start if fit.

JAMIE VARDY: Only Kane, Mo Salah and Sergio Aguero scored more than Vardy's 20 Premier League goals this season, so the Leicester man is a guaranteed pick for Russia.

MARCUS RASHFORD: Still only 20, the Manchester United forward is highly-rated by Southgate and will go to Russia, but may have to accept a role as substitute.

RAHEEM STERLING: With 18 goals and 11 assists in the league for Manchester City this season, Sterling should get the nod as a forward rather than a midfielder. But either way, he is certainty for Russia.

Prediction: Kane, Vardy, Rashford, Welbeck, Sterling.

Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.