Hart axed as England squad named

By AFP: Thursday, May 17th 2018 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Football
Manchester's City's goalkeeper Joe Hart reacts after their Champions League soccer match against CSKA Moscow at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, northern England November 5, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Yates (BRITAIN - Tags: SOCCER SPORT)

England omitted Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere from its World Cup squad yesterday and called up Trent Alexander-Arnold to cap a remarkable breakthrough season for the 19-year-old right back.

England coach Gareth Southgate stuck to his principles and selected a young, energetic and flexible group of 23 players who can fit a variety of formations but will be short of experience at major tournaments.

Hart was England’s first-choice goalkeeper at the last World Cup and the two most recent European Championships, and was Southgate’s number only five months ago.

However, he has fallen behind Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope after making errors and losing his place during a loan spell at West Ham from Manchester City.

“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?’” Southgate said. “We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season.”

Wilshere last played for England in one of the country’s most humiliating matches, the 2-1 loss to Iceland in the last 16 of Euro 2016, and has had another injury-filled season at Arsenal.

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Southgate will instead rely on Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Jesse Lingard, and Fabian Delph as his central midfield options. Delph played mostly as a left back this season for Man City, the Premier League champion.

Alexander-Arnold made his senior debut for Liverpool only 17 months ago. Now, he is preparing to mark Cristiano Ronaldo in next week’s Champions League final against Real Madrid and will then head to the World Cup in Russia.

The teenager is uncapped, although he was invited to train with England in March.

Danny Rose is one of the two left backs, along with Ashley Young, despite starting only nine games for Tottenham this season because of injuries.

The inclusion of versatile players like Young, Alexander-Arnold and Delph provides options for Southgate, who has tinkered with 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 formations in his 18 months in the England job and also encourages his team to play out from the back.

“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” Southgate said. “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.”

Southgate will discuss his squad selection at a news conference today.

England is in Group G with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.

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