GARETH SOUTHGATE has named a bold World Cup squad focused on promise rather than experience.
Uncapped Trent Alexander-Arnold (pictured above) is celebrating a maiden England call-up but Adam Lallana, Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere miss out.
After months of speculation, scrutiny and conjecture, the 23 men charged with bringing the country success in Russia were revealed this afternoon, along with the five-strong stand-by list for the tournament.
England’s joint second-most capped goalkeeper Hart was excluded from both lists as were Arsenal midfielder Wilshere and Southampton left-back Ryan Bertrand — but Lallana provided the biggest shock.
While the Liverpool attacking midfielder has not started a Premier League match since New Year’s Day, he is a favourite of Southgate. However, his lack of fitness means he has to settle with a stand-by place alongside Jake Livermore, Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook.
Gary Cahill received a surprise reprieve having been excluded from March’s squad — the only member of the group to have reached a half-century of caps.
But the most striking inclusion is uncapped teenager Alexander-Arnold.
An impressive performer in Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final, the 19-year-old briefly trained with Southgate’s side in March and has now been named in the senior squad for the first time.
The other uncapped squad member is Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, having been selected ahead of 75-cap Hart to take the third spot behind Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland.
Chelsea’s Crystal Palace loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek was rewarded for his fine form and versatile Fabian Delph came in after winning the title at Manchester City, despite last playing for his country in November 2015.
Ashley Young, rejuvenated at Manchester United, joined Danny Rose as left-back options instead of Bertrand, who will feel hard done by considering he played a key role for Southgate.
Southgate does not have to formally submit his squad list to World Cup organisers FIFA until June 4. He has, therefore, put five additional players on standby to come in in case of injuries.
They are Tom Heaton and James Tarkowski of Burnley, Lewis Cook of Bournemouth, West Brom’s Jake Livermore and Liverpool’s Adam Lallana.
Southgate is pleased with the squad he has put together.
‘I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,’ said the England boss in a statement from the FA.
‘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.’
England’s record cap holder, Peter Shilton, thinks Alexander-Arnold’s maiden call-up may be a hint to a future role in the side rather than an immediate one in Russia.
‘It’s been a bit of a rise over this season,’ he said. ‘Gareth has an eye on doing well in the World Cup, but also an eye on the future. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough…that’s the old saying.
‘He doesn’t look over fazed by any occasion, but, saying that, the World Cup is a bit special. It’s really a test, it’s pressure.
‘You know the whole world and whole country is looking at you, not just your club.
‘But he’s a good inclusion, he’s one of the players for the future.’
Former England striker Gary Lineker gave his backing to the inclusion of Loftus-Cheek and Alexander-Arnold.
He tweeted: ‘Particularly pleased that Gareth has gone with the exciting young double of double-barrelled prospects, Loftus-Cheek and Alexander-Arnold. Good luck.’
England begin their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on June 18 and play further group games against Panama and Belgium.
Prior to that they have friendlies against Nigeria at Wembley and Costa Rica at Elland Road on June 2 and June 7 respectively.
ENGLAND WORLD CUP SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley).
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Kyle Walker, John Stones (Man City), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose (Tottenham), Phil Jones, Ashley Young (Man United).
Midfielders: Eric Dier, Dele Alli (both Tottenham), Jesse Lingard (Man United), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Fabian Delph (Man City), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).
Forwards: Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Man United), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) Harry Kane (Tottenham).
Standby: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski (both Burnley), Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Jake Livermore (West Brom) and Adam Lallana (Liverpool).
■ ENGLAND’S 1966 World Cup-winning left-back Ray Wilson has died at the age of 83, his former clubs Huddersfield and Everton have announced. Wilson was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2004 and died on Tuesday evening.