England’s World Cup squad is not a gamble despite it being their third youngest in the tournament’s history, says manager Gareth Southgate.
He named a 23-man squad for Russia on Wednesday, including uncapped 19-year-old defender Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“I don’t see it as a gamble and I don’t think being free of inhibition is gambling,” said Southgate.
England start their Group G campaign against Tunisia on 18 June, before games against Panama and Belgium.
In his first news conference since announcing the squad, Southgate said:
- He would discuss the captaincy when the players meet up on Sunday.
- It was “not the end of the road” for goalkeeper Joe Hart, who did not make the squad.
- He had picked the best three keepers in the country this year.
Belief in ‘fearless’ England
Southgate accepted England will lack the experience of tournament favourites Brazil, Germany, Spain and France, but lamented the lack of English players in the Premier League to choose from.
“Maybe it is brave to take players without the number of caps, but we have to give these guys belief,” he said.
“We pick from 33% of the league, which is quite a unique situation, but there is excitement with where we are going.”
The squad have made 449 international appearances between them at an average of 19.5, and Gary Cahill (58) is the only player with more than 40 caps, but the manager has faith in his selections.
He said: “I think it’s being fearless in how we want to play, being brave enough to put people in and not think, ‘well, he’s the best player but he’s young, maybe we should pick a lesser player who’s a bit more experienced.’
“You can make excuses at times for not putting young people in, accepting that they will make mistakes because of the way we were asking them to play, but I will take responsibility for that. It’s important for me to allow them to go and perform.”
More to follow