Ranked! Every England player based on their displays at the 2018 World Cup
21. Trent Alexander-Arnold
He’s been unfortunate. Alexander-Arnold's main positional rival, Kieran Trippier, has been one of England’s finest performers, meaning that he has had no real hope of being anything other than a last resort. That being said, he didn’t make the most of his selection against Belgium, looking out of his depth in a way that he rarely does for his club. To have posed a threat to Trippier, his delivery needed to be better and his attacking thrust more forceful than it ultimately was. Alexander-Arnold's time will come, but not this year.
20. Phil Jones
As with the goalkeeper situation, centre-halves benefit from continuity and Gareth Southgate has a clear first-choice three. Jones featured against the Belgians but, barring injury to John Stones, Harry Maguire or Kyle Walker, he won’t be seen again. The Manchester United man hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been relevant either.
19. Danny Welbeck
Fortunate to have made the squad and the chances of him seeing the pitch again seem very remote. At his best he’s a fascinatingly diverse forward, but he neither seems capable of reaching that level at the moment nor of fitting into England’s style of play.
18. Gary Cahill
For Cahill, read Phil Jones. As Southgate has established a first-choice trio in central defence, Cahill has been an incidental figure so far at this World Cup and will continue to be so barring injury or suspension. Yet on the basis of a fine goalline clearance against Belgium, which spared Jordan Pickford’s blushes, we’ll put him above Jones as the man more likely to come into the side.
17. Fabian Delph
Delph was selected partly because of the range of positions he’s able to cover. Pep Guardiola has made him into a passable full-back but, of course, he’s a natural midfielder. He's nowhere close to dislodging either Jordan Henderson or Ashley Young from the side, but he has contributed some useful minutes in the late stages of games and did help England to remove any threat of a Swedish comeback in the quarter-final.
16. Eric Dier
Should he play no further part in this tournament, that converted penalty against Colombia will be enough to sustain him. Still, it’s hard to resist the conclusion that he’s been the odd man out in Russia. Southgate’s decision to play just one holding midfielder has left him without a place and, aside from substitute appearances in which he hasn’t looked at his best, he’s been a peripheral figure.
15. Danny Rose
Rose is in a similar position to Trent Alexander-Arnold, although for different reasons. He certainly offers something different to Ashley Young and is the more attacking full-back, but what the latter has provided so far - balance, experience, reliable delivery - is probably worth more. It’s unfortunate, because without his injury Rose would have been a first choice at this tournament, but defensive balance is clearly more important than sentiment.