So football didn’t quite make it home in 2018, we had one hell of a ride though.
The World Cup fever hasn’t quite worn off yet and I’m already counting down to the 45 degree Becks blue bonanza in Qatar.
With Gareth still on my mind and The Lightning Seeds still ringing in my ears, there is no better time to get the 2022 squad in shape.
In Russia, Gareth took three players over 30; Gary Cahill, Jamie Vardy and Ashley Young – the former two have since retired, and the latter dropped from the latest squad we can realistically look at all the rest as viable options for the next World Cup.
Yet, with the success of the youth teams over the past few years at all levels there will be some names knocking on Sir Gareth’s door by 2022.
So, without further ado, here is my predicted 23 man squad:
GK: Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Nick Pope.
DEF: Trent Alexander Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Michael Keane, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell.
MID: Phil Foden, Lewis Cook, Mason Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Jadon Sancho.
ATT: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Rhian Brewster
Fourteen of the squad were out in Russia, and don’t need too much explaining. Here are the reasons for the new inclusions.
There will be a battle for the left-back spot, with Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw both hopeful of replacing Young. I feel Chilwell will edge the battle with Shaw’s injuries a concern.
Michael Keane was unlucky in the run in to the Russia World Cup. Everton signed the 25 year-old in the summer of 2017.
He got better as the season went on, although he couldn’t get a seat on the plane.
I don’t think he will start but is an ideal replacement for the likes of Jones, Smalling and Cahill.
England has some unbelievable talent coming through in central midfield. Enough to make Eric Dier toss and turn in his sleep.
Lewis Cook has gone from strength to strength for Bournemouth and is beginning to look like the real deal.
At such a young age to have 39 Premier League games under his belt, as well as previously having the England call up, is a good sign for the future.
Eddie Howe plays a similar game to Southgate, so the transition should be straightforward.
Phil Foden will need game time if he is to make the starting 11, although Pep Guardiola reckons the young Englishman is good enough to play for City for a decade.
The sky is the limit for the young man, the next year or two may well be defining for him.
Mason Mount has been a star for the youth teams on an international level and is now getting consistent game time under Frank Lampard at Derby.
Perhaps not a starter, but a technical midfielder the likes of which England lacked this summer.
The two young wingers, Callum Hudson Odoi and Jadon Sancho, are very raw young talents and both full of pace and trickery, although they’ll need game time before proving they are ready for the step up to international level.
They also face stiff competition from Sterling and Lingard who both appear to be permanent features in Southgate’s plans.
Up top is Rhian Bewster. He registered five goals and seven assists in 11 games in the Premier League 2.
There are similarities to Rashford in terms of style and with the right club and management he could be the main threat to the Man United players’ spot next to Kane.
So there we have it, I may not be right, but you can’t knock me for having a go.