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Gareth Southgate has a number of big decisions to make ahead of the mega summer tournament next year. With a limited number of spots available, the manager will have to make some cut-throat decisions – one of them being which players to leave behind for the World Cup. England did secure their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but they have quite an uphill task from here.
Despite an unbeaten qualification campaign, the Three Lions are not among the favourites for the tournament, with a number of questions regarding their squad still to be answered. Thus, squad selection will be incredibly important since it can either make or break England’s chances at the World Cup next year. Southgate does have a plethora of options available, but here are three players he must most definitely leave out from the squad.
Towards the end of the previous season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did enjoy a good run of form with Arsenal. That could have continued had he stayed back but the player chose to exit and join Liverpool instead. His form has been highly erratic since then, and he has hardly started for them so far. Ox has been inconsistent and has purely lacked form. Even when Klopp fielded him in one of his preferred positions, the player failed to do well.
His recent display against West Ham was encouraging but those kind of performances are not enough to guarantee him a spot in England’s World Cup squad.
Livermore has been a member of each England squad since earning a recall in March, playing against the likes of Germany, Scotland and Slovakia, but of late, Harry Winks and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been much more influentical than the West Brom man. He displayed a very poor form in the initial few matches of the new season but he seems to have improved in his recent couple of matches.
However, when one has to make a choice between Livermore and Harry Winks based on current performances, it is quite obvious that Southgate should prefer choosing the latter.
Forster was exceptional last season but he has been really average this time. Jack Butland, Joe Hart and Jordan Pickford appear to be the top selections in goal, although it remains unclear as to who will be Southgate’s first choice.
However Forster’s exclusion is likely to be the right move. We all saw the best example of this when Southampton were held to a draw against Brighton, as his inability to get across his goal or parry the ball away in a consistent manner costed the Saints. Whether it’s a confidence issue or something deeper, Forster has been a shadow of his former self this season, which should see him get excluded from the squad, unless he improves.