LONDON – England’s national soccer coach Gareth Southgate unveiled on Wednesday the final list of 23 players for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the presence of Trent Alexander-Arnold and playmaker Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the absence of Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere.
After days of rumors and speculation, the coach made public the squad that will represent the Three Lions in the World Cup, to begin on June 14.
“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about, Southgate said on the English Football Association’s website. “I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance,” he added.
Southgate had until May 14 to pick a list of 35 players and until June 4 to reduce it to 23, but he decided to announce the final list on Wednesday, two days after the FIFA deadline for the provisional call expired.
Among the most surprising choices on Southgate’s list are the presence of the 19-year-old Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and goalkeeper Nick Pope who was picked over Joe Hart.
“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,” he said.
Only five of the 23 players that appeared four years ago in the World Cup in Brazil will travel to Russia: Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling.
A further five players were included in a waiting list, in case the England squad has to sideline anyone before the tournament opener.
Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livemore and Adam Lallana have all been formally put on standby, England said.
Before traveling, the Three Lions are to play two friendly matches; on June 2 at Wembley against Nigeria and on June 7 at the Elland Road stadium against Costa Rica.
England is in the Group G of the World Cup along with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.