Who will start for England against Iran? Gareth Southgate’s ‘leaked’ XI sees bold formation change

A look at the likely England starting XI to face Iran in the Three Lions’ 2022 FIFA World Cup opener.

England are now closing in on their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener on Monday afternoon. The Three Lions take on Iran on Monday (1pm) in the second game of this World Cup, following on from Ecuador’s comfortable win over hosts Qatar on Sunday. Gareth Southgate’s men will be desperate to get off to a strong start after coming into this tournament on the back of disappointing form.

Group B is a tricky group, made up of three teams from the top 20 in the FIFA rankings, but England should still be confident of topping a group made up of Iran, USA and Wales. Although, living up to expectation in the pressure cooker that is a World Cup is much easier said than done.

As is often the case in modern football, the England line-up is believed to have been ‘leaked’ ahead of the match, with what is said to be Southgate’s likely starting XI availiable for fans to see ahead of kick-off later today.

Here is everything we know about how the Three Lions could line up against Iran, including formation and players:

What formation will England play and who is out with injury?

There are some key selection decisions facing Southgate for the opener with Iran, and the biggest factor is the formation. Recent reports have suggested Southgate is going for the 4-3-3, which could include Mason Mount in more attaching role in the midfield three, making it look a lot more like a 4-2-1-3 in possession. The formation would be a change from the three at the back system often used by Southgate in the past.

What we do know is that James Maddison and Kyle Walker will miss out with injury having come into the tournament behind in their fitness following recent injuries.

“Kyle Walker is a little bit short for this game but is progressing really well,” Southgate told BBC FiveLive. “We are ahead of where we thought he might be at this point. “James [Maddison] hasn’t been able to train since we arrived so he will not be able to make the game tomorrow.”

Raheem Sterling is expected to keep his place despite disappointing club form over recent weeks, while Kieran Trippier looks set to win a spot at the back. One of the big questions is whether Southgate opts for Bukayo Saka or Phil Foden, but The Guardian believe it will be the former. However, a greater number of sources suggest it will be Saka who makes the side over the Manchester City star.

What does the starting XI look like?

Expected England XI vs Iran (4-3-3): Jordan Pickford; Kieran Trippier, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Luke Shaw; Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount; Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane.

Should the reported leaks prove to be as accurate as those from the Euro 2020 tournament, it looks like Mount, Saka and Bellingham could be in for World Cup debuts. The majority of the predicted line-up starting England’s Euro 2020 Final defeat to Italy, with Saka seeing his penalty saved as the Three Lions lost the match on penalties.