Gareth Southgate has snubbed Adam Lallana to go for broke by naming a string of youngsters in his England squad to take to the World Cup.
Southgate has ignored the claims of more experienced players, with Liverpool star Lallana the biggest name to miss out, and pinned his hopes on a novice group he hopes to lead the country to glory in Russia.
Liverpool teenager Trent Alexander-Arnold and Burnley keeper Nick Pope are both included despite never having made a senior international appearance.Ruben Loftus-Cheek has made the cut, with the Crystal Palace midfielder and Everton’s Jordan Pickford only boasting two caps apiece.
Southgate’s decision to axe Joe Hart from his plans means he will go to the tournament with three keepers who have just nine caps between them.
Rookie Pope and the highly-rated Pickford are joined by Stoke’s Jack Butland – the most experienced of the trio with just seven appearances to his name.
The decision to include Alexander-Arnold is perhaps the biggest shock, given the teenager has not figured in any senior squads until now.
Ironically, it was a season ending injury to his Anfield team-mate Joe Gomez that opened up a path into the group who will travel to Russia.
With Southgate keen on adopting a three-man defence with wing-backs in Russia, Trent-Alexander’s athleticism has seen him get the nod.Lallana has missed the majority of the season for Liverpool through injury, and has been forced to settle for a place as stand-by, along with keeper Tom Heaton, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore and James Tarkowski.
Southgate said: “I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about.
“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.
“The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it.
“We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.”
The other big calls Southgate had to make were telling Hart and Southampton defender Ryan Bertrand they were not in his plans.
He added: “Ryan and Joe have played a lot over the last two years so they’re not decisions we took lightly. I could’ve had easier conversations by keeping them involved.
“With Joe, we’ve got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group?
“Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season.
“Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it’s probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season but I just felt the others were ahead of him.
“Both calls were really tough. They’re both good guys and have contributed a lot throughout qualification, so it wasn’t an enjoyable part of the job and I feel it’s important to acknowledge their contribution in getting us to Russia.”
See full list below:
Jordan Pickford: Age 24, Caps 2
Jack Butland: Age 25, Caps 7
Nick Pope: Age 26, Caps 0
Kyle Walker: Age 24, Caps 34
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Age 19, Caps 0
Kieran Tripper: Age 27, Caps 5
John Stones: Age 23, Caps 24
Harry Maguire: Age 25, Caps 4
Phil Jones: Age 26, Caps 24
Gary Cahill: Age 32, Caps 58
Danny Rose: Age 27, Caps 16
Ashley Young: Age 32, Caps 33
Eric Dier: Age 24, Caps 25
Dele Alli: Age 22, Caps 23
Jordan Henderson: Age 27, Caps 38
Jesse Lingard: Age 25, Caps 10
Ruben Loftus-Cheek: Age 22, Caps 2
Fabian Delph: Age 28, Caps 9
Raheem Sterling: Age 23, Caps 37
Harry Kane: Age 23, Caps 23
Jamie Vardy: Age 31, Caps 21
Marcus Rashford: Age 20, Caps 17
Danny Welbeck: Age 27, Caps 37