London (AFP) – Trent Alexander-Arnold has been included in England’s squad for the World Cup as Joe Hart and Jack Wilshere were the big-name casualties of Gareth Southgate’s youth revolution.
The England manager confirmed on Wednesday that, as widely anticipated, he had omitted both on-loan West Ham goalkeeper Hart and Arsenal midfielder Wilshere were not in his squad for the World Cup in Russia.
Hart is 31 and has played 75 times for England. Injury-prone Wilshere is 26 and has 34 England caps.
But 19-year-old Liverpool right-back Alexander-Arnold will be on the flight to Russia as Southgate has opted for a youthful selection in what he hopes will prove a bold new era for the under-achieving national team.
The 23 players averages just 19 caps, making them England’s least experienced World Cup squad since 1962.
The selection of Alexander-Arnold, comes after some fine performances in Liverpool’s run to the Champions League final.
“The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it,” Southgate said.
Southgate named Burnley’s Nick Pope, at 26 the oldest of the three goalkeepers, in place of Hart and called up Manchester City’s Fabian Delph, who can play at left-back or in midfield, to take over from Wilshere.
Delph hasn’t played for England since 2015, but he is coming off a Premier League title-winning campaign with City.
The most capped player, with 52 appearances, is Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, at 32 the second oldest member of the squad, who was included despite missing out in recent friendlies, while there was no place for Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana, who has recently returned from a long hamstring injury lay-off.
Chelsea’s young midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek has earned selection after an impressive season on loan at Crystal Palace.
“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,” Southgate said.
“It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.
Southgate has included just four players — Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck and Cahill — who played in the last World Cup in 2014.
Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Sterling and Welbeck are England’s attacking options.
— ‘Lot of energy’ —
Nobody in the squad has won a World Cup match, but Southgate is confident England can make an impact as they dream of winning the tournament for the first time since 1966.