Ranked! England's 23-man World Cup squad... in order of their importance this summer
23. Jack Butland (GK)
A good goalkeeper, maybe even a very good one in the future, but nevertheless out of form and still not quite ‘right’ after that nasty ankle injury in Germany. Jordan Pickford is the starter, so England aren't going to win or lose on his availability or contribution.
22. Nick Pope (GK)
All being well, he shouldn’t see the pitch. Whether he or Butland are second choice behind Pickford is hard to know, but it’s a decision Southgate hopefully won’t have to make. His inclusion is really just a deserved reward for his fine performances for Burnley.
21. Trent Alexander-Arnold (DF)
A surprise inclusion. Three right-backs, Gareth?
Not of great relevance this time around, but perhaps a selection designed to expose a young, long-term prospect to a tournament environment. Maybe – and, yes, this is guesswork – it also suggests that Southgate sees Kyle Walker as a bona fide centre-back too. Alexander-Arnold’s involvement does at least imply that he wants that option available to him.
20. Kieran Trippier (DF)
A good season at Spurs and never really in danger of being excluded. He’ll back up Kyle Walker (with a sense of deja vu) and, if needed, provide a more balanced, delivery-based option on the right. If Walker is employed at centre-half, jump Trippier up a further 10 places on this list.
19. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (MF)
Southgate has great faith in Loftus-Cheek, as he does in some of the other graduates from his under-21 team. How he would fit into any side containing Dele Alli remains unclear, but England need more creativity in their midfield. If it becomes absolutely necessary, Loftus-Cheek is capable of splitting lines and providing it.
18. Phil Jones (DF)
The fourth of the four recognised centre-halves. As per the above, Alexander-Arnold’s inclusion probably may mean that Walker will be used on the outside of a back three, making Jones very much a peripheral figure in this squad.
17. Ashley Young (DF/MF)
Warranted on the back of a strong season with Manchester United, but a bit of an outlier. England need pace and penetration from deep and, the wrong side of 30 and a right-footed player on the left, Young is very different to the other full-backs.
16. Fabian Delph (DF/MF)
Another for whom versatility was crucial. Delph has hardly played in midfield for Manchester City this season, but he’s earned a place by virtue of covering more than one position - that’s clearly what gave him an edge of Jake Livermore (who is on the standby list).
Like a few others, Delph will only become truly vital should injuries occur in midfield. That being said, his defensive abilities and mobility could allow England to adopt a spoiling, three-man midfield should the need for extra protection arise.