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All England players are fringe players

England’s mediocrity in depth puts them among the top 32 teams in Russia, report Back of the Net

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None of the roughly 300 top-flight footballers who are eligible to wear the Three Lions are first choices for England, manager Gareth Southgate has revealed.

Southgate’s squad to play the Netherlands and Italy is composed of 26 players who are on the edges of the first team, while a handful of hopefuls are left out due to injury.

The selected players will seek to stake their claim to a World Cup squad place knowing that should they fail to impress, a further 270 nearly men are waiting to take their places on the plane to Russia.

“We’re blessed to have four or five bang average goalkeepers and about eight interchangeable centre-backs, who are more than capable of looking decent enough most of the time,” Southgate said.

Southgate singles out England's keepers with "bang average" praise

“Our forward line would be the envy of any mid-table Premier League side, and I know that whoever I pick in midfield will do a perfectly adequate job,” he continued.

“Will it be Jack Wilshere? Jake Livermore? Jesse Lingard? I don’t know because I can’t tell them apart, but I’m sure they will keep things ticking along until our first-team midfielders breakthrough in the next few years, whoever they might be.”

England’s stand-in captain Jordan Henderson, who Southgate has temporarily entrusted with the armband “because somebody has to be captain,” issued a rallying cry before the match with Holland.

Henderson said: “We all want to be the first name on the teamsheet, but we’ll settle for being joint-11th. Now let’s go out there and give it six out of 10, maybe seven at a push.”

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