Jesse Lingard has been appropriately rewarded for his breakthrough season, in which he has transformed from a part-promising, part-confusing squad player, into a first-team regular and scorer of spectacular and important goals. Whether he’ll be able to make that same change for his country remains to be seen, but he’s a hard worker and he’ll probably get a chance.
The other three might not be likely starters. Marcus Rashford has spent quite a lot of time on United’s bench, but that’s fine: he’s a child, he’s a threat when he gets into the game, and he’s perfectly capable of doing the same for England. Phil Jones is Phil Jones, and as such absolutely has to go. If you can take Phil Jones somewhere, you take him there.
Perhaps the most surprising call-up is Ashley Young, who spent four years out of international consideration before returning in 2017 and is now, at the age of 32, heading to his first World Cup. Just goes to show that hard work, diligence, and a manager who absolutely despises his other left-back options can go a long way.
On that topic, Luke Shaw doesn’t make the squad. Poor lad. TBB has always thought he had the talent to establish himself as first choice for both club and country. Perhaps in some other universe. One where Jose Mourinho is playing a lot of golf.
Also missing is Chris Smalling, who may not be the best defender in the country but has, in our admittedly red-tinted view, had a significantly better season than Gary Cahill. Ah well. Wouldn’t be an England squad without some weird calls.
Here’s the full squad: