Best England XI of 2015: Butland, Rose, Zaha, Cork in

Date published: Wednesday 7th October 2015 12:52

Jamie Vardy: Leicester City striker in great form

Jack Butland, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Marc Albrighton, Wilfried Zaha, Jack Cork, Jamie Vardy make the best English XI of 2015.

England’s preparations for Euro 2016 are already in full swing. Roy Hodgson this week has the chance to become the first England manager to secure a 100% record in the qualifying stages for a major international tournament, and it would be a huge shock if they failed to do so with outings against Estonia and Lithuania rounding off their campaign.

The England manager will hope to use the remaining fixtures between now and next summer to finalise his squad, with a number of places still likely to be up for grabs. Tottenham teenager Dele Alli and Liverpool’s Danny Ings were the two players called up to the squad for the first time late last week, proving that Hodgson is still open to giving newcomers a chance to prove their worth.

With that in mind bring us their top-rated English XI from the Premier League since the turn of the year, with a few interesting inclusions making the grade.

Jack Butland takes the spot in goal ahead of Joe Hart following an excellent start to the season, having finally been given the chance to prove his worth at the Britannia Stadium following the departure of Asmir Begovic. The young shot-stopper is in Hodgson’s squad having captained the Under-21s at the Euros during the summer, and rightly so having made the most saves in this season’s Premier League (37), with a rating of 7.16 for Stoke since the turn of the year.

He may not have had the chance to showcase his true ability for Spurs thus far, but Kieran Trippier‘s impressive form for Burnley this year earned him a move to White Hart Lane and a place in the top-rated English XI at right-back. Despite the fact that the 25-year old hasn’t featured in the league this season he still leads the way in 2015 in terms of accurate crosses (58), claiming three assists in that time and a rating of 7.29.

Trippier’s new Spurs team-mate Danny Rose takes his place on the opposite flank, though he too is struggling for playing time in north London at present. Minor injury problems have hampered his start to the campaign, and despite earning the highest rating for Spurs in the recent derby clash with Arsenal (7.26) he continues to be overlooked in the league right now, with Ben Davies getting the nod. That after Rose enjoyed something of a breakthrough season last time out, with only Harry Kane earning a higher rating of Spurs players to start more than 20 matches in 2014/15.

The centre-back pairing is a familiar one to England fans, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jagielka completing the back four. The former is the top Englishman since the turn of the year according to’s ratings (7.46), with Jagielka not far behind (7.40). Smalling has come on leaps and bounds in 2015 to become an integral member of Louis van Gaal’s side. No defender has scored more goals in the Premier League in that time (3), while the calming influence of Daley Blind has had a positive impact on his composure at the back.

All the noise surrounding Everton has been regarding the development of John Stones, but one can’t doubt Toffees captain Jagielka’s role in that progression. After a disappointing start to last season the veteran returned to form following Stones’ promotion to the starting line-up and his interceptions per game have almost doubled from last season (1.5) this time out (2.8).

Best England XI of 2015

There is a rather unheralded pairing on the flanks, with Marc Albrighton and Wilfried Zaha enjoying an impressive year to date. The former has played an influential if understated role in what has been a sensational 10 months for Leicester, registering six assists in 20 appearances, while only three players – including the aforementioned Trippier – have delivered more accurate crosses in 2015.

Zaha, like Albrighton with Mahrez, has often played second fiddle to his team-mate on the opposite wing in the form of Yannick Bolasie, but he has looked back to his best at times this season. That was certainly the case at the weekend, when a man of the match performance earned the former United wide man a rating of 9.20 after he completed nine dribbles in a 2-0 win over West Brom. Once tipped as the brightest young talent in the country, if Zaha can work on his consistency he may yet be in with an outside shot for a call-up.

Lining up in midfield, new Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson – sidelined for the upcoming double header – is partnered by another uncapped hopeful. Jack Cork is an underrated star at Swansea, and while, like Jonjo Shelvey, his form has dropped since the previous international break, the 26-year old has been vital to Monk’s side since moving to Wales in January. Cork has earned a rating of 7.12 in that time, with Coquelin the only midfielder to produce more interceptions (66).

The front two is as expected, with Harry Kane joined by Jamie Vardy after the latter’s superb start to the 2015-16 season. Despite a slow start to the campaign, netting a decisive own goal at the weekend, only Sergio Aguero has scored more goals this year than Kane (17), with five of the Argentine’s 18 coming on Saturday. Vardy, meanwhile, has 11 goals in the same time and a league-high of 7 this season, and when factoring his 7 assists since the turn of the year only Kane (20) and Aguero (24) have had a direct hand in more goals in the Premier League.

With the likes of Dier and Grealish also thought to be knocking on the door, Hodgson is expected to experiment a little in the friendlies between now and Euro 2016, and rightly so given the downturn in form of some of England’s regulars. If he really is keen to pick a squad based on form, the current crop would arguably be very different to the 23 named last Thursday.

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