As Gareth Southgate prepares to name his England squad for the upcoming friendlies with Germany and Brazil, we asked Whoscored.com to name their stats-based XI.
England have done all they can at this stage – they have qualified for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. Now, it is all about getting the team selection just right, ensuring Southgate’s men have the best chance of ending 52 years of hurt in July.
Picking a strongest Xi is no easy task, though. Players dip in and out of form, while certain performances in friendly matches in the run-up to next summer’s tournament will give Southgate plenty of food for thought.
But who deserves a chance to show what they can do against Germany and Brazil? Based on statistics, there are some uncapped players who are really staking a claim for a call-up…
GOALKEEPER – Nick Pope
Burnley fans fretted when Tom Heaton was forced off with injury in their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, but deputy Nick Pope has excelled between the sticks for Sean Dyche’s side. The 25-year-old is the best-rated goalkeeper in the Premier League this season, with a WhoScored.com rating of 7.29, and has the best save success rate (87.2%) in England’s top tier. A third clean sheet in six league starts at Newcastle’s expense on Monday night only enhanced his reputation further.
LEFT-BACK – Ashley Young
Ashley Young was rumoured to be on his way out of Old Trafford over the summer, but the 32-year-old has worked his way back into contention and is now a regular under Jose Mourinho. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.26 is the best of all English left-backs this season and an international recall could well be on the cards. It wouldn’t be anything less than Young deserves after a series of solid showings.
CENTRE-BACK – Ben Mee
He’s hardly the most glamorous name in English football, but Ben Mee has excelled in the Burnley defence this season. He’s made the third most clearances (86) in Europe’s top five leagues this season, while no player has blocked more shots than the 28-year-old (18) to return a WhoScored.com rating of 7.29. Burnley have conceded just nine goals this season and Mee’s no-nonsense approach to defending has played a vital role.
CENTRE-BACK – Phil Jones
Like Young, Phil Jones was another Manchester United player who could have left Old Trafford earlier in the year, especially in the wake of Victor Lindelof’s big money arrival. However, the 25-year-old has started all 10 Premier League games for United this season and could well be considered an automatic England starter when fit. A pass success rate of 92.3 per cent is among the best in the Premier League this term, illustrating Jones has the necessary quality on the ball to thrive in the direction England are trying to go in.
RIGHT-BACK – Kieran Trippier
Rounding off the defence, Kieran Trippier could have been relegated to second choice once Serge Aurier joined Tottenham from Paris Saint-Germain, but he has featured for Spurs in recent weeks. The England international has a better WhoScored.com rating (7.12) than former Spurs teammate Kyle Walker (7.10), with his attacking output a crucial asset. No Premier League defender has registered more assists than Trippier (4) this season, all of which have been for Harry Kane, with Trippier to Kane the joint-best assist-to-goalscorer combination.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Ruben Loftus-Cheek may have taken his time to consolidate a starting berth at Crystal Palace, with injuries hindering his early impact, but the on-loan midfielder looks to be living up to his potential with regular game time. Indeed, 4.2 successful dribbles per 90 minutes is better than any other Premier League player to make five or more starts this term, reinforcing a statistically calculated WhoScored.com strength of ‘dribbling’.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – Jordan Henderson
Jordan Henderson may not be enjoying his finest season to date, but he is a guaranteed England starter. His ball-retention qualities are ideal on the international stage, with the Liverpool star averaging the fifth most passes per game (80.6) in the Premier League this season. His solid displays have returned a WhoScored.com rating of 7.05, that in turn among the best of central midfielders.
CENTRAL MIDFIELD – Dele Alli
Dele Alli may have come in for criticism earlier in the campaign for a series of underwhelming displays, but the 21-year-old still has three goals and one assist to his name. He’s made the third most key passes from open play (19) in the Premier League this season, with his ability to attack space in the final third one of his strongest traits. “It’s true he’s not in his best, but it’s coming. Like winter, it’s coming,” Pochettino said of Alli this week and with a WhoScored.com rating of 7.21, the youngster should build on that return in the coming weeks.
LEFT WING – Marcus Rashford
Jose Mourinho has a real selection headache on his hands, with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial vying for a starting spot in his Manchester United XI. The former has been hugely impressive on the left flank for the Premier League title contenders, with Rashford having had a direct hand in six top-flight goals this season, matching his return from last term. A WhoScored.com rating of 7.25 is far and away his best in a campaign as he continues to go from strength to strength.
RIGHT WING – Raheem Sterling
With seven goals to his name this season, Raheem Sterling is enjoying a fine campaign for Manchester City. His WhoScored.com rating (7.61) is the sixth best in the league with Sterling excelling under Pep Guardiola. Like Kane, Sterling should be considered one of the first names on the England team sheet when fit and firing on all cylinders. The 22-year-old’s attacking approach helps pressure defences and leaves opponents on the backfoot as they scramble to limit Sterling’s ever-increasing influence in the final third.
CENTRE FORWARD – Harry Kane
The Premier League’s top goalscorer was always going to make the cut, with Harry Kane arguably the first name on the England team sheet when fit. He has eight goals to his name, despite his August failings, and has earned a better WhoScored.com rating (8.01) than any other player in England’s top tier this term. His great form in front of goal has seen him win four WhoScored.com man of the match awards this season, more than any other Premier League player.