World Cup 2022: Who will start for England against Iran?
With Gareth Southgate today set to release his 26-player England squad for the 2022 World Cup, the focus will then swiftly switch to their opening Group B match against Iran on Monday 21st November. Below we take a look at which players could be in-line to start at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan...
Jordan Pickford is the bookmakers' fancy to be starting the first game of the World Cup and you’d probably be comfortable betting on him to start most games this tournament.
Pickford has been Southgate’s main man through thick and thin, regardless of form and how poorly Everton have been, with Gareth favouring Pickford whenever he is available.
Next up in the market would be Nick Pope at 14/1 who is thriving in a Newcastle shirt at the moment. He’s pretty much guaranteed a spot as the backup goalkeeper in the England squad but as previously mentioned, Southgate likes to stick to the boys he knows and with Pickford full fit, it looks like Pope might have to wait to get some playing time.
The defensive positions also look all but confirmed according to the odds as we have both fullbacks coming in as huge odds on shots to start the first game. Luke Shaw looks is one of those who looks to have secured his place with Ben Chilwell, unfortunately, missing the tournament.
Another player who has benefited from an injury is Kieran Trippier who has been in great form as of late with Newcastle. Many may argue that he was always going to have this spot regardless of competition but with Reece James now being out, Trippier looks a dead cert to be starting the first game against Iran.
For central defenders, we have Eric Dier at 8/15, John Stones at 2/9, and Harry Maguire at 4/9. Southgate has often favoured the back-five system which looks to have made room for the struggling Harry Maguire.
You’d feel fairly comfortable backing John Stones with the five at the back option, you’d fancy him to even get in if they switch to a back four. If they were to switch formation, Harry Maguire would be a big doubt.
The only other decent bet could be Walker or Trent to start who are both 11/4 and 10/3, if Southgate isn’t fully convinced by Trippier either of these could be good alternatives.
Elsewhere in the market, you’ve got Conor Coady at 11/8 who may see some minutes this tournament but with Eric Dier and Stones seemingly nailed on, I’d be very surprised to see them get some minutes in the opening game.
We'd be extremely surprised if Southgate didn't opt for the duo of Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice here.
Kalvin Phillips could well feature at a later point in the tournament, but it would be a huge surprise if he's brought in for the first match against Iran.
If Southgate opts for three in midfield then his trusted man Mason Mount could well be handed a place in the first-11.
Harry Kane, to quote Gary Neville: “This was the no-brainer, the banker, this was the one that couldn’t fail, this one the one that never failed.”
Harry’s spot in the starting XI is as safe as houses. Barring a freak injury in Spurs’ next game Kane has got that spot locked down, Southgate loves him that much that he’d probably start him when he’s injured, ok probably not but he’s a big fan of him, and so is everyone that supports England.
Raheem Sterling is the next most likely at 1/8 and in all honesty is another no-brainer. Sterling was sensational in the last major tournament where at the beginning of Euro 2020 he was England’s sole producer of goals scoring their first three goals. Whilst he’s had a quiet start with Chelsea, don’t be surprised to see him starting most games.
Next up is Foden who is 4/9 to start the first game, he’s expected to play on the wing to assist Harry Kane and it’s a system that has worked in the past. Foden has been solid for Man City this season and whilst he’s missed the odd game when he’s played he has looked unbelievable.
Bukayo Saka is also coming in at evens to start the first game and I think that is more down to his versatility as a player. Considering he can play in defence, midfield and as a forward, he could be a decent bet, but I don’t think he will be starting this game. Rashford is 10/3 to start the first game and considering his recent form it’s not a bad bet but I think with Southgate being a huge fan of Sterling, Rashford’s playing time will probably be limited.