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SPOILED FOR CHOICE

Who should start on the wings when England face Senegal on Sunday?

In many ways, England’s three group games at this World Cup have encapsulated Gareth Southgate’s entire reign as head coach.

The Three Lions’ wealth of attacking assets have set up the team for a positive tournament performance and yet still supporters had to endure 90+ minutes of nothingness against USA, a reminder of the risk-adverse approach that tempers the creative talent in the squad from time to time.

Still, seven points from what could have been a deceptively tricky group is objectively good going and the Euro 2020 finalists will start as favourites when they meet Senegal in the round of 16.

Looking ahead to Sunday night’s knockout game, Gareth Southgate has big decisions to make in the wide areas, as do Dream Team World Cup gaffers.

Should Rashford start against Senegal?

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Should Rashford start against Senegal?

Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden , Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford have all scored at the tournament already – a notable statistic given none of them got close during the stalemate against the Americans.

Man United’s boy wonder has made a compelling case to start from the off against the Africa Cup of Nations champions having scored three goals in 107 minutes so far.

Rashford came off the bench to cash in against a deflated Iran and was England’s most-threatening player against Wales, opening the scoring with sweetly-struck free-kick before capping the victory with a left-footed goal to make it 3-0 in the 68th minute.

Naturally, the 25-year-old scooped the Star Man on Tuesday night to bank 18 points, taking his overall tally to 23 and putting him level with Lionel Messi (albeit having played a game more).

It’s easy to forget that Saka scored a brace of his own in England’s opening fixture, an effort that produced an 18-point haul – only two midfielders, Frenkie de Jong and Bruno Fernandes, have racked up more since.

England are stacked in the wide areas

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England are stacked in the wide areas

Sterling scored one goal and assisted another against Iran to pocket ten points and, crucially, is probably Southgate’s favourite option on the left flank.

The clamour for Foden was satisfied when the Man City youngster produced a silky performance against Wales, winning the free-kick which Rashford converted with a mazy run before scoring one of his own to double the lead.

The 22-year-old earned eight points for his efforts but whether he’s done enough to convince Southgate he should start in the knockout stages remains to be seen.

Finally, there’s Grealish, who also has eight points, but it seems likely he’ll continue in his impact substitute role for the foreseeable future.

DREAM TEAM WORLD CUP OWNERSHIP:

  • Foden – 17.4%
  • Saka – 17.4%
  • Rashford – 9.9%
  • Sterling – 6.9%
  • Grealish – 2.3%

It’s worth noting that all the above players are categorised as midfielders except for Rashford, who is a forward.

England fans got their wish against Wales

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England fans got their wish against Wales

Despite being the least in-form, Sterling is surely the favourite to start from the left against Senegal, the Chelsea winger has been one of the first names on the team sheet under Southgate and he’s justified his status more often than not in recent times.

Let’s not forget he was arguably England’s most potent threat throughout Euro 2020.

That leaves Foden, Saka and Rashford scrapping for a place on the right and no matter Southgate’s decision, a sizeable chunk of Dream Team World Cup bosses will be disappointed.

If the team selection was determined by Dream Team World Cup points then it would Saka and Rashford either side of Kane from the off on Sunday night – that sounds pretty good on paper but the national coach cares not for fantasy football games (sadly).

Dream Team World Cup bosses may choose to wait until the starting line-up is announced before making any transfers but with France likely to play in the afternoon (and possibly Argentina) they will be have to mindful of lockout.

The last thing you want as we delve into the knockouts is multiple non-starters polluting your XI.