Imagining you’re Gareth Southgate is a little hard to stomach, not least because of Euro 96’s penalty miss and his subsequent pizza ad.
We’re actually more thinking the impossible job he faces this summer and selecting a good England side. Southgate faces perhaps one of the toughest tasks in recent tournaments with the Three Lions lacking in key areas.
They’ve been handed a favourable group and are at 16/1 when it comes to the World Cup odds. But who will make the 23-man squad bound for Russia?
Joe Hart’s position as first choice keeper will come into serious question ahead of Russia 2018 and its likely Jordan Pickford or Jack Butland will be preferred as the number one.
Hart has struggled for West Ham this season but he does have experience on his side having been there done that.
Squad Prediction: Jack Butland, Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford
Kyle Walker has little contest for the right back position and will likely be joined by Danny Rose or Ryan Bertrand on the opposite wing. The former needs to make a move in January to get some games under his belt however.
At centre half Southgate has a few options, with John Stones and Michael Keane a likely pairing. Gary Cahill will almost certainly be on the plane and will provide vital experience in the squad. We’d also back Chris Smalling and Phil Jones to get the nod too.
Squad Prediction: Ryan Bertrand, Gary Cahill, Michael Keane, Phil Jones, Danny Rose, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Kieran Trippier
England have an abundance of midfielders. However, when it comes to quality they’re lacking somewhat.
A centre midfield pairing of Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson is looking most likely, a real worry for those wanting to make an England bet on the World Cup.
Jack Wilshere could be an option should he be given an opportunity at Arsenal or elsewhere between now and the end of the season. The odds for Wilshere to go to the World Cup are at 11/4 and is well worth a punt. He’s regularly favoured by England managers and this tournament will be no different.
Harry Winks and Danny Drinkwater will have an outside chance, the latter at 4/1 to make the squad with Ladbrokes.
Attacking wise Dele Alli will be one of the first names on the team sheet and Raheem Sterling’s form for Manchester City makes him a must for Russia.
Jesse Lingard is also finding some form for Manchester United and we’d expect him to board the plane should he continue that. If Adam Lallana is fit and playing we expect him to go too.
Squad Prediction: Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Harry Kane could go to the World Cup as England captain and will be integral to their success.
Joining him has to be Marcus Rashford, who will strike fear in even the world’s best defenders. Jamie Vardy is likely to board the plane while Daniel Sturridge or Danny Welbeck will be given a chance dependant on who’s fittest and playing.
Welbeck is being given the nod with the bookies priced at 6/4 compared to the odds on Sturridge to go to Russia at 4/1.
Squad Prediction: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, Daniel Sturridge
Naturally, there’s plenty of time between now and June for players to impress and there are a number of exciting youngsters who will be gunning to get on the plane.
Leicester’s Demarai Gray has been playing regularly and impressing under Claude Puel. He’s at 6/1 to get the nod, and he could be a shoe in should there be any injuries to the likes of Sterling, Lingard and Rashford.
Equally, the turn in fortune at Everton could give the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ademola Lookman a chance. Calvert-Lewin hit the winner in the U20 World Cup Final earlier this year and is at 16/1 to make his World Cup debut.
Of course there will always be the case for Jermain Defoe too. The 35-year-old is one of the finest finishers in the country and has 20 goals in 57 games for the Three Lions.
Defoe is at 12/1 to be picked for the World Cup and could be a good addition as a fifth striker.