With only months to go until the World Cup kicks off, England have already played two of their final preparation games before they head to Russia and worryingly superstar striker Harry Kane has been left out with injury. This would not normally be an issue for an international side with the FIFA ranking of England but the current Three Lions squad does look fairly thin on the ground in terms of players of the highest quality.
There is no doubt that the most talented player in the England squad is Tottenham striker Harry Kane. He is without a doubt one of the best-attacking players in the world and he definitely isn’t far off being on the same level as the likes of Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar. He has a fantastic eye for goal and, if he is playing well during the World Cup, the England fans have something to look forward (as long as he isn’t on corners again). Raheem Sterling is also another player who could be considered as being almost there. Playing in the most dangerous side in the world (Manchester City) is obviously doing Sterling no harm and it is good to see that he is maturing as a footballer. He has come under fire in the past as having great potential but not quite having the end product needed to be up there with the very best but I strongly believe he is close. 15 Premier League goals this campaign is a sign that he is starting to find his scoring feet and I think that a good performance at the coming World Cup will set him on a trajectory that could see him nominated for the Ballon D’Or in coming years, the only problem being Neymar and Kylian Mbappe being that good he could struggle to win the award.
Midfield is one of the positions that could let England down in the summer. When you look at the players who have played in the middle of the park for the Three Lions in the past you will see players like Gerrard, Lampard and Paul Gascoigne but really struggle for that same level of quality. Dele Alli is England’s most gifted midfielder and definitely has the potential to go onto great things if he can control the controversial things in his game such as diving and his temper. He is capable of scoring some incredible goals and will almost certainly aid England going forward but it is hard to select another possible world class midfielder in the current crop of talent and the answer is definitely not Jordan Henderson. Henderson has captained both Liverpool and England and was once thought of as the successor to Steven Gerrard but that hasn’t quite worked out. He can definitely do a job in a game but for me, he plays too many sideways balls and doesn’t see a lot of good movement from the attackers like Kane and Sterling.
John Stones, James Tarkowski and Harry Maguire are all seen as part of the new, youthful defence that will be the backbone of a young England squad but in my opinion, none of them are truly world class. Too many mistakes and just simply not being able to cope with players like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Mbappe at their best will prove to be their undoing. This weakness combined with no real World Class goalkeeper could hurt England in the summer and I don’t believe that any of the current group of defenders or goalkeepers have the potential to be World Class (despite what Everton fans may say about Jordan Pickford). With some good coaching and thinking about the best way to play England could be good solid at the back, but the formation where Southgate seems to try and cram as many attacking players in as possible won’t help their development.
There we have it, there are only three players who truly have the potential to become World Class and they are all attacking which may come as a surprise considering England have struggled in the past to make the net bulge. I believe that come the World Cup, Kane, Sterling and Alli can step up and help England to the quarter-finals but any further could be too far. A weak midfield and inexperienced defence will prove to be England’s downfall come the inevitable quarter-final tie against Germany.
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