Rio Ferdinand has named his starting eleven for England at this year’s World Cup, should every player be fit – and it includes some surprising picks.
The Three Lions have had a successful international break, picking up victories against Switzerland and Ivory Coast. England went behind to the Swiss but came back to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Luke Shaw and Harry Kane.
It was a more comfortable evening at Wembley on Tuesday, as Gareth Southgate’s men beat Ivory Coast 3-0. Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings all got on the scoresheet.
Players in the Premier League and abroad are looking to impress Southgate ahead of the winter tournament in Qatar.
He has some big choices to make across all areas of the pitch. Aaron Ramsdale is challenging Jordan Pickford for the number one shirt, while the defence could be a back three or back four.
Southgate also has plenty of options in midfield and attack, meaning talented players will have to settle for spots on the bench.
Ferdinand has put forward his potential side, although it is not exactly traditional.
Rio Ferdinand goes with surprising England team
He missed out the goalkeeper and dived straight into a back three. “I’m gonna go three at the back as I think that’s our best chance,” Ferdinand said on his Vibe with Five YouTube channel. “[Harry] Maguire on the left, Kyle Walker central and Reece James on the right.
“Trent [Alexander-Arnold] at right wing-back and [Luke] Shaw left wing-back. I’m gonna go Declan [Rice] and [Jude] Bellingham [in midfield]. Foden in the hole and then two strikers, [Raheem] Sterling and [Harry] Kane.”
The selection saw Ferdinand miss out Arsenal ace Bukayo Saka, who has been in great form this season. Mason Mount is a Chelsea regular but does not receive the nod.
Ferdinand also kept Kalvin Phillips out. The Leeds star is only just coming back from a hamstring injury, although he was very impressive on England’s route to the Euros final last year.
City, Liverpool men also left out
In addition, Ferdinand opted to keep John Stones out, instead going with Walker at the heart of a back three. This is surprising given Walker normally operates at right-back for City.
Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson and Jadon Sancho were some of the other big names to miss out.
Explaining his selection, Ferdinand added: “James coming out with the ball coming into midfield because he can do that, he played midfield as a kid. Trent out on the right. Walker centre, he’s covering the whole backline on his own.
“My midfield, Declan, Jude and Foden dropping in as a number 10 and coming back into midfield.
“Free role for Sterling, he can go where he wants, Kane holding the ball up and running behind.”