Don’t be too concerned if you haven’t made the plane for the EUROs, folks. There’s still hope of making it to the World Cup in 2018, but it might not be you, Gary – playing on the parks of Exmoor in August.
Two years can see a mighty amount change in international football, so it’s hardly out of the question that England name a markedly different 23 for their trip to Russia in a couple of summers’ time. Roy Hodgson may no longer be at the helm – it could even be Brendan Rodgers – so who might board the plane to Russia?
England are one of the most exciting teams heading to this European Championship, with a young squad, exciting forwards and a questionable defence – we could see some box office stuff in France this summer.
Despite the rather youthful essence of England’s 2016 squad, there could yet be changes for 2018 – will any of these FIVE make it to Russia?
Injuries have blighted Hughes’ career to date. Previously a Premier League hopeful with all the attributes to become a complete midfielder, the Derby man has struggled to complete 90 minutes on a regular basis for a while now.
A Premier League move over the next season or two – or Derby finally getting promoted – would be crucial if Hughes holds any hope of making it to Russia in 2018. The talent is all there, it is just a matter of good fortune and fitness as to whether Hughes will really make it.
Like Hughes, Shaw’s career has stagnated as a result of persistent injury.
A powerful overlapping left-back at his best, Shaw needs to work on his defensive game if he is to reach the elite in his position, as many seem to expect him to do. You’d expect that a couple of seasons regularly playing for Manchester United would be enough to earn him a place on the plane, wouldn’t you? Well, the doubt creeps in when you realise the current options on the left side of England’s defence.
Loftus-Cheek has been tipped as the heir to Chelsea midfield greatness for some time. From his days of dominance in the youth teams to the Capital One Cup bench appearances, the Blues’ academy star should be ready for the big time by 2018.
Whilst a stall in his career is likely at Chelsea, there is every chance that he could still become one of their crucial players over the next year or so. Capable of supporting the central striker or playing from a deeper role, Loftus-Cheek has it all.
Could Baker become another player to disappear into the depths of Chelsea’s loan list to never return?
England and the Blues will certainly hope not and Baker has been one of the more impressive youngsters at the Toulon tournament this summer. A senior England cap may seem some way off at the moment, but it is hard not to be impressed with the accomplished youngster.
Although Keane may end up becoming a full international for the Republic of Ireland, he is also eligible for England. The Burnley centre-half had represented Ireland up until under-19 level and has been a regular performer for the Championship winners.
Could a Stones and Keane centre-back partnership be the first-choice for England at Russia 2018?