England manager Sam Allardyce has announced his first Three Lions squad following his appointment last month.
Many expected drastic changes following the national team’s abysmal performance at Euro 2016, which ended with an embarrassing defeat to minnows Iceland.
However, the selection pool for his first international fixture against Slovakia will be fairly similar to the one at the disposal of Roy Hodgson. The emphasis appears to be on developing the country’s best young players and to have a core that will stay with the new boss for the years to come.
Only one newcomer
The only surprise inclusion is that of West Ham United winger Michail Antonio, who has developed at a rapid speed since his arrival at the Hammers from Nottingham Forest last summer.
Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater is back in the squad having missed out on the chance to go to France in the summer, with Everton’s Ross Barkley a notable exclusion. Barkley was one of just two players who failed to get on the pitch during England’s short-lived international tournament appearance but has had a very good start to the season under new Toffees boss Ronald Koeman.
Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw is also back in the squad having missed the majority of the last twelve months with a broken leg. The former Southampton man replaces current Saints defender Ryan Bertrand and will be deputised by Tottenham Hotspur’s Danny Rose.
Arsenal duo Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also miss out, although club team-mate Theo Walcott is back in the squad having also missed Euro 2016 through injury.
A place for Hart but will he start?
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has been included in the squad, but his place at club level is under scrutiny with manager Pep Guardiola not being a fan of the Shrewsbury Town academy graduate. Saints’ Fraser Forster and Burnley’s Tom Heaton will be Hart’s competition and it remains unclear whether Allardyce sides with the view held by Guardiola or whether he will continue as England’s number one.
The squad in full
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City) & Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City) & Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) & Theo Walcott (Arsenal).
Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) & Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).