World Cup Qualifiers: Who should feature for England against Albania based on their current form?
The international break will see the Three Lions also travel to San Marino over the weekend.
A majority of the England squad for this week’s World Cup Qualifiers also featured in the previous international fixtures against Andorra and Hungary, however Gareth Southgate has brought Jude Bellingham back into the squad, while Emile Smith-Rowe could also make his senior debut.
England are currently top of their qualifying group and so may not play their strongest team against Albania tomorrow, however we have had a look at what the Three Lions’ starting XI would look like if Friday’s line-up was based on each player’s current form elsewhere.
Jordan Pickford has been England’s number one choice in goal since the 2018 World Cup and nobody has really provided him with any proper competition for his spot since.
However, Aaron Ramsdale has enjoyed a near perfect start to his life at the Emirates Stadium following his summer move to Arsenal.
The ex-Sheffield United keeper has claimed six clean sheets in nine matches for the Gunners so far and has made a string of exceptional saves – most noteably one against Leicester City following a James Maddison free-kick.
While Ramsdale’s performances will have to continue a little longer for him to take Pickford’s spot, he’s definitely the most in-form goalkeeper in the England squad right now.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, John Stones, Conor Coady, Ben Chilwell
The right-back spot is – and always has been - a tough one to choose. Both TAA and Reece James have been brilliant so far this season, with Trent picking up six assists in competitions, while James has four goals and has set up another four.
While both would impress if they were to take up the position, Trent Alexander-Arnold is arguably the best right-back in the world when he is at his best and we are yet to be given the chance to see that for England following his injury prior to the Euro tournament.
The centre-back duo was another difficult one – but more because of the lack of options rather than having too many.
The likes of Ben White and Fikayo Tomori are both much more deserving than some of the defenders that Southgate called up to his squad, but instead we are left to pick the best of a bad bunch.
John Stones’ only issue is his lack of game time this season for Manchester City but he has proven himself to be a top defender since his revival at the Etihad Stadium.
Funnily enough, Conor Coady – probably the centre-back furthest down in the pecking order – has probably been the most in-form of the lot.
While Wolves struggled at the start of the season, they have lost only one of their last seven matches and currently sit eighth in the Premier League.
Meanwhile, despite an impressive Euro tournament for Luke Shaw, the left-back is currently having a nightmare of a campaign with Manchester United, while Ben Chilwell has wormed his way back into Thomas Tuchel’s starting XI with Chelsea.
Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden
Mason Mount, James Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice pulling out of the squad means we have very limited midfield options left.
Despite Kalvin Phillips enjoying a highly successful summer with England, it is hard to ignore how Jordan Henderson and Liverpool have done so far this season.
As well as that, despite missing out on the previous World Cup Qualifiers, Jude Bellingham has been sensational for Borussia Dortmund and certainly deserves a shot at a regular place in the starting XI.
Meanwhile, Phil Foden comfortably takes an attacking role in the midfield and probably will do for years to come.
Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham
The attacking trio is probably the one that least resembles what Gareth Southgate would pick.
Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish and Harry Kane are likely to be the England boss’ main three up top, however with a combined total of three goals and three assists between them in the Premier League this season, they certainly aren’t enjoying their best form.
Meanwhile, Smith-Rowe and Saka are both lighting up the Emirates Stadium at the moment and have been superb as the Gunners have managed to turn around what was a dreadful start to the campaign.
Abraham has also enjoyed a successful few months in Italy following his summer move to Roma and will likely think this is his best chance to get some minutes under his belt for England given how poor Kane has been for both club and country.