At the conclusion of England’s disappointing 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ campaign, the Three Lions had three vastly-experienced players on the pitch: Frank Lampard (106 caps), Steven Gerrard (114 caps) and Wayne Rooney (119 caps). Those three players will not, however, line up for Gareth Southgate on 18 June against Tunisia, with Gerrard and Lampard having retired from football altogether, and Rooney having departed the international scene.
FIFA.com takes a look at who Southgate could call upon in his squad for Russia 2018 to fill this trio’s big shoes, and replace those lost caps.
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard (combined 220 caps, 50 goals upon retirement)
The candidates to replace them in Russia:
Described by Gareth Southgate as a “sniffer”, someone who can smell out an opportunity and arrive in the penalty area at just the right time, Alli is comparable to Lampard in that respect. His goalscoring record at club level (approximately one goal per three games), is also reasonably similar to Lampard’s, but he has some catching up to do at international level (two goals in 23 matches as of 30 April 2018).
Much less cavalier than Lampard in his attacking forays, but represents something similar to Gerrard in his latter years, when the Liverpool legend sat in a deeper role. Dier’s education in the Sporting CP academy has given him an air of unflappability, and he is comfortable in a number of positions including in the centre of defence. Has a good range of passing, which allows him to set more attack-minded team-mates free in the final third.
Has replaced Gerrard at club level as Liverpool captain but represents a different type of midfielder to the former England No4. He relentlessly presses the opposition as high up the pitch as his position allows and looks to put his teammates on the front foot as quickly as possible. Like both Gerrard and Lampard, he can hit efforts from distance, but is not a natural goalscorer.
Would represent something of a joker in Southgate’s pack were he to board the plane to Russia, having played no games in World Cup qualifying due to injury and form at club level. The Arsenal man is a creative schemer, who can travel box-to-box as Lampard did. His goalscoring record leaves something to be desired, but he is capable of unlocking any defence on his day.
Wayne Rooney (119 caps, 53 goals upon retirement)
The candidates to replace him in Russia:
A livewire, whose unpredictability makes him a good option for Southgate, Lingard has come into his own at Rooney’s former club Manchester United this season. He is in some ways similar to Rooney in his younger years: somebody with good awareness just outside the penalty area, with the ability to beat a man either with trickery and pace, or with an incisive one-two.
Used by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City in a variety of positions, Sterling has done well for England, directly replacing one of Rooney’s final Three Lions roles as the No10 behind a primary striker. His link-up play with Harry Kane needs work, but Sterling is an undoubted threat when picking the ball up just inside the final third and running at defences. Has also had a terrific goalscoring season for City that he will be hoping converts to the international arena.