Former captain Gary Lineker says England should write off the World Cup and use it as a chance to blood youngsters, predicting the side can become a “serious force” in world football.
England head to Russia next month hoping to improve on a dismal 2014 campaign in Brazil and an embarrassing performance at Euro 2016.
The likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson have impressed this season, but former England striker Lineker feels Gareth Southgate’s side are short of top players.
Southgate is set to name his 23-man squad on Wednesday and Lineker wants to see the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ryan Sessegnon make the cut, with Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup in mind.
“If I was Gareth Southgate I would sell this on youngsters,” he said at the BBC’s launch of their coverage of the tournament.
“I would say this is an experience, take total pressure off them, say, ‘It is all about experience, we are not going to do particularly well, we are not going to win this World Cup’.
“I think people will buy that because in four years’ time we are going to be a serious force in world football, there’s no doubt about that. We have got some great young players.
“Just write it off, we haven’t realistically got a chance, you never know what might happen in tournament football, but we haven’t currently enough world-class players.”
There could be surprises in Southgate’s squad — Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere have reportedly missed out, with 17-year-old Sessegnon touted as a potential wild card pick along with Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold.
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand is a huge advocate of taking Alexander-Arnold.
“I’d take him. His Champions League form this year has been nothing short of breathtaking,” he said.
“To go in there, a pressure cooker, playing at Anfield, the expectation levels of their fans. We have been there and he took to it like a duck to water.”
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