England manager Gareth Southgate has “everything ready to go” as he prepares to finally name his World Cup squad, but Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere and Gary Cahill are all expected to miss out.
Southgate will name his 23-man group for the summer tournament on Wednesday, and looks set to omit the three high-profile figures.
The Three Lions boss, though, was giving little away on Tuesday evening as he spoke briefly to Sky Sports News ahead of attending the League Manager’s Association Awards dinner in London.
“That’s all done in my mind and everything’s ready to go. We’re looking forward to getting the announcement done and focusing on preparing the team for the summer,” Southgate said.
When pressed on whether Hart had, as widely reported, already been told he was surplus to requirements, the England manager said: “Everything will be dealt with tomorrow. In fairness to all of the players I think it’s right that we announce it publicly.
“There’ll obviously be lots of different things that come out overnight I’m sure, but from my perspective we announce tomorrow.”
Asked if it would be a youthful squad which headed to Russia, Southgate added: “People know the direction we’ve headed in over the last few months and we’ll keep doing that.”
The satisfaction of those officially selected by Southgate at Wednesday’s announcement will contrast with the disappointment of those missing out on Russia 2018, with the experienced Hart expected to miss the cut.
Widespread reports emerged on Tuesday evening that Arsenal midfielder Wilshere has also been told he will not be travelling, with the same applying for Chelsea defender Cahill, according to ESPN FC.
Wilshere has not played for his country since the Euro 2016 exit to Iceland, but was in line to start against Holland in March before injury put his World Cup hopes in jeopardy.
Manchester City’s versatile Fabian Delph is said to have been included by Southgate, with Burnley centre-back James Tarkowski part of the group on standby.
Southgate is reported to have called 75-cap goalkeeper Hart on Monday evening to tell him he would not be in the squad.
Uncapped Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope could get the nod to make the trip alongside Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland.
A promising campaign for Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, also uncapped at senior level, has put him in with a shout, while Southgate may consider the likes of Chris Smalling and Michael Keane to bolster his centre-back options.
In midfield, Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey has performed well recently, but last donned the Three Lions in November 2015. Adam Lallana, England’s player of the year in 2016, is a fitness doubt, although Ruben Loftus-Cheek is an exciting option.
The squad will be drawn from the privately submitted long list of 35 handed to FIFA. Although the world governing body does not need it whittled down until June 4, Southgate will name 23 players to strip unnecessary anxiety and pressure from preparations.
Southgate, though, rejected suggestions he was set to spring a wildcard selection, as previous England managers had done.
“Depends on what you consider a surprise I suppose,” he said to Sky Sports News.
“In my mind I’m pretty clear on who we’re picking and whether that surprises people I guess remains to be seen.”
Most players will meet up on Monday as World Cup preparations get under way, although Manchester United and Chelsea players will be given an extended break after the FA Cup final.
Liverpool’s players will get similar respite after the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
England have warm-up friendlies against Nigeria at Wembley on June 2 and Costa Rica in Leeds on June 7, ahead of the Group G opener against Tunisia on June 18.
Despite all the clamour around who might be on the plane to Russia, Southgate is relishing the opportunity to test his coaching abilities on the grandest stage of all.
“It’s a great honour to lead your country into a major tournament of course, a big responsibility and we’re looking forward to getting the players together and starting preparation in more detail,” he said.
England’s predicted 23-man World Cup squad
GOALKEEPERS Pickford, Butland, Pope.
DEFENDERS Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Stones, Jones, Maguire, Cahill, Rose, Young.
MIDFIELDERS Dier, Henderson, Delph, Lallana, Loftus-Cheek, Alli, Sterling, Lingard.
ATTACKERS Kane, Vardy, Rashford, Welbeck.