Rumoured England team: Phil Foden dropped as Gareth Southgate opts for back four

Rumoured England team: England captain Harry Kane and Manager Gareth Southgate speak to the media during the England Press Conference ahead of the game against Iran at MPC on November 20, 2022 in Doha, Qatar
(Image credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

A rumoured England team has leaked online, with Gareth Southgate appearing to make bold selection decisions for the Three Lions' opener with Iran.

The team are in a rut of late, having been relegated from the Nations League in September – and England were expected to play with three at the back, given that they did so in the loss and draw against Italy and Germany respectively in their last two competitive games. 

But Southgate has opted to remain positive about the "form" of the team, telling the BBC yesterday that those games – plus the disastrous performances in the Nations League earlier this summer – were "months ago". Now, it appears that he has chosen to play a 4-3-3 as England look to carve open a defensive opponent in Iran for their first test of the 2022 World Cup

The rumoured England team against Iran

The rumoured England team against Iran

The rumoured England team against Iran for the World Cup 2022 opener (Image credit: Future)

While the rumours so far on social media are unfounded, there is plenty of talk that Southgate will opt with an attack-minded XI from the 26-man squad at his disposal.

The England manager has often picked a midfield two of Declan Rice with one other player – Kalvin Phillips at Euro 2020 – and was expected to pair the West Ham United captain with Borussia Dortmund teenager Jude Bellingham. Now, however, it seems as if Southgate may well choose Rice as the deepest midfielder in a 4-3-3 with Mason Mount and Bellingham either side as No.8s. 

Kieran Trippier gets the nod at right-back, with Kyle Walker still struggling for fitness following a lay-off. One reason that Southgate might choose a back four could be the absence of the Manchester City man, who he has stayed loyal to in his time as manager. 

Kieran Trippier

Kieran Trippier gets the nod at right-back, according to the rumours (Image credit: Getty Images)

Elsewhere in the team, in-form Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka seems to be starting at right-wing, with Manchester City star Phil Foden relegated to the bench. Saka, according to many, has performed better in an England shirt. 

England face Iran at 1pm in the World Cup. 

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