Following another rigorous qualifying campaign, England will travel to Russia in a couple of days for the 21st World Cup. But who are the Three Lions that will need to be playing at their best this summer should they be aiming to turn a dream of winning the World Cup into a reality?
When Gareth Southgate named a mixed-aged England squad for the upcoming World Cup, many people began questioning the role that the so-called ‘golden generation’ will play. Will a blend of young and experienced lead to the Three Lions to their first international triumph since 1966?
For a while it has seemed the case that England’s youth teams have managed to succeed, yet the senior team have struggled to do so. Although, Gareth Southgate’s squad this summer includes three players who have achieved youth international success: varying from 2016’s under-21 Toulon Tournament to 2010’s under-17 European Championships.
With an average squad age of 25.5-years-old, just over half of Gareth’s squad lie underneath that threshold. With this summer’s trip to Russia being the first major international competition for many of his players.
But who exactly will Gareth need to be in prime form for his side to achieve?
Butland made the England cut undeterred by a poor season for Stoke City. The Potters had their Premier League status brought to an end following relegation to the Championship.
Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford make up the other goalkeeping options. Although, Pope only made his England debut in the friendly against Costa Rica, while Pickford has three caps to his name.
Despite having just eight senior caps himself – with Southgate opting not to select Joe Hart – Butland represents the England boss’ most experienced option in between the sticks.
With the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Dries Mertens from just a selection of opposition players in which Butland will most likely face, the 25-year-old will have no room to make errors on the international stage.
Having excelled throughout Manchester City’s triumphant season in the Premier League this term, it was almost guaranteed that Sterling would find himself on the plane.
Sterling scored 18 goals in 33 appearances for City, also grabbing eleven assists as they stormed to the title. Therefore, the 23-year-old’s creative assets will be vital in Russia.
With his rapid turn of pace, tendency to drive at opposition players and pin-point crosses, Sterling’s abilities in midfield will be crucial this summer as England seek to supply it’s attacking line.
The 24-year-old has achieved vast amounts of success domestically over the past four years. Being the leading English goalscorer for the past four seasons and winning the Premier League Golden Boot twice during that time, Kane’s prowess in-front of goal has certainly not gone unnoticed.
Following in the footsteps of Wayne Rooney – Kane’s predecessor in the captaincy role – the Spurs striker is expected to be the main source of England goals as well as carrying the weight of leading his country on world football’s biggest stage.
His natural ability with both feet aligned with strong powerful headers will make him something to be wary of, but he will not be able to succeed without a high-quality supply line from midfield.
It is all fine if these individuals perform to their best ability but, if we are turn our dreams of recreating the scenes of 1966, we will need the combined performances from the entire squad.