Southgate should pick in-form players for Czech clash

Gareth Southgate has underlined the need for change after the number of English top-flight starters reached a historic, and alarming, new low.

England make the trip to the Sinobo Stadium on Friday to take on the Czech Republic and Gareth Southgate should not be afraid of starting the new additions.

The Three Lions currently top Group A on 12 points, having won all four of their matches so far, and victory over second-place Czech Republic would put the Three Lions a step closer to qualifying for the 2020 European Championships, which will be held in 12 cities.

Southgate could decide to be cautious and stick with his trusted players for the clash in Prague-Vrsovice but, with some younger player desperate to make an impact, opting for youth should be the way the manager goes for Saturday’s encounter.

Potential starting XI for England in 4-2-3-1 formation

Goalkeeper – Nick Pope

Although Jordan Pickford continues to get the backing of Southgate, there is just that feeling the Everton shot-stopper has an error in the locker and that is why Burnley star Pope gets the nod, having impressed during the first eight games of the Premier League season.

The 27-year-old is taller, has a bigger reach and is more commanding of his area than Pickford, while the Clarets’ number one has made more saves and kept one more clean sheet than his compatriot in the top flight this term.

Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson is also in the squad, having been called up as a late replacement for Aston Villa’s Tom Heaton, but a watching brief appears to be the best option during this international break.

Left-back – Ben Chilwell

Leicester’s Chilwell is regarded as one of the best left-backs in the Premier League and there is no doubt he should be picked ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s Danny Rose, who has endured a tough time for both club and country this season.

The 22-year-old, who came through the Foxes’ academy, is a quality crosser of the ball and with England expected to dominate possession against the Czech Republic, he will have plenty of opportunities to put quality delivery into the box.

Right-back – Trent Alexander-Arnold

This is a tricky call as both Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier have performed well this term, but the former just gets the nod for this game. Doubts still remain over the defensive qualities of the Liverpool youngster but, when asked to get forward, the 21-year-old has proven to be one of the most dangerous full-backs in English football.

The Reds’ ace has made the most crosses of any player in the Premier League this season, while he is also 10th in passes.

Centre-backs – Harry Maguire and Joe Gomez

Manchester United’s Maguire is a certainty to play, having become key on both the domestic and international stage, and he should be partnered at the back by Liverpool’s Gomez. The latter has improved massively at club level after playing alongside Virgil van Dijk and already boasts good experience at just 22 years of age.

Holding midfielders – Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson

Again, with the options available in the current squad, both Liverpool’s Henderson and West Ham’s Rice pick themselves. The duo have started the current campaign well, producing solid performances along the way, and it will be good for the pair to play alongside each other to become more familiar.

Attacking midfielders – Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount

This appears to be another easy decision for Southgate when picking the three players to play behind the striker. Sterling, Sancho and Mount have all been in magnificent form for their respective clubs, scoring a combined 13 league goals between them.

All three possess great pace and creativity, making them an absolute force to be reckoned with, and they should all be handed starts.

Striker – Tammy Abraham

No English player has scored more Premier League goals than Tammy Abraham (8) this season and Friday’s contest seems like the perfect opportunity to start the in-form Chelsea striker. With Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford enduring difficult periods for Spurs and Man Utd respectively, handing the starting role to Abraham is the way to go.

The 22-year-old is eager to make a name for himself on the international stage, having taken the chances at Stamford Bridge this term with both hands, and he should be backed to continue his fantastic goalscoring during this international break.