Some football fans were surprised when Gareth Southgate announced Gary Cahill in his England squad, especially with an in-form James Tarkowski missing out. However, the Chelsea defender started the friendly against Nigeria last Saturday, earning the man of the match award with the opening goal and a solid defensive display in the 2-1 win.
There were several occasions where Cahill found himself out of the Blues’ starting XI last term, which isn’t something he has had to get used to during his time at Stamford Bridge, the two title-winning campaign in particular. This was one of the reasons why his selection in the 23-man squad was seen as a bit of a shock.
It seemed from earlier qualifiers and friendlies that the three centre-backs chosen by Southgate would be Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire but a training knock to the latter gave Cahill a way into the team. The former Bolton centre-half took that opportunity with open arms and added to his international manager’s already complex selection headache.
With the Three Lions’ first match in Russia in just two weeks, the team that will start against Tunisia is a very hot topic of conversation. Having been given the captaincy for the tournament, Harry Kane is the only name guaranteed on the team sheet. Walker is probably the only other England player to fall under that bracket as the Sheffield-born defender will play either on the right-hand side of a back three or as a right-wing back.
Although, as the squad numbers have been announced, the number 1 has been given to Jordan Pickford which could be a huge hint as to who Southgate’s first-choice stopper will be for his first managerial game at a major tournament.