If football really is coming home this summer England might have to it do the unorthodox way.
Their final Group G clash with Belgium on Thursday is intriguing in many ways.
Both sides have maximum points, with England currently ahead of their Belgian counterparts on their superior fair play record as they match each other for everything else.
With both nations already safely through to the knockout rounds they very much face a Matrix dilemma, the red or the blue pill if you will.
One one hand aim to win on Thursday, duly topping the group in the process and enter the ‘path of death’ route for the rest of the tournament.
Why path of death? Well France, Brazil, Germany and maybe even Argentina are all expected to populate that half.
On the other hand intentionally finishing second in the group could create a far ‘easier’ route to glory.
So – and we’re being extremely hypothetical here because, surely, surely this couldn’t happen, right? – which member of the England squad is most likely to take one for the team?
And by take one for the team we mean deliberately get himself sent off to ensure England have a poorer disciplinary record than Belgium creating, therefore, a ‘simpler’ pathway to the final.
Got all that?
Well we’ve whittled it down from 23 to three to create a shortlist of genuine contenders…
I must admit I had to double check Jones had actually made the World Cup squad.
He’s way down the centre-back pecking order and it was, in truth, probably a straight toss between himself and Chris Smalling to see who made the cut.
Jones could be Gareth Southgate’s secret weapon against Belgium as he’s an accident – or red card in this case – waiting to happen pretty much all the time.
In fact, the Man United man wouldn’t have to deliberately get himself sent off – he just probably would anyway.
Jones brought down Eden Hazard when through on goal in the FA Cup final so you know he’s very much got it in his locker.
No role smacks of sleeper agent more than the World Cup third-choice goalkeeper.
And that honour falls to Pope in Russia, with both Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland currently ahead of the Burnley stopper.
On paper, then, if there’s one man Southgate could genuinely afford to lose to suspension it would be Pope.
Introduce him at half time against the Belgians, instruct him to catch a ball 20 yards outside his area and hey presto; problem solved.
The people’s champion.
Vardy is the archetypal s***house, the rustler and England’s jester who would undeniably die for his country.
You just know whether it’s a terrible two-footer or via persistent trademark diving, the Leicester rags to riches fairytale boy would happily get himself sent off if it meant living a World Cup dream.
A crafty one-match suspension would even provide him with more time to explore the local Russian delicacies, otherwise known as four pints of vodka.
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