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Who England should take to the World Cup is a conversation that stokes up football debate amongst fans across the UK every four years.
As players come into form, flop in front of goal or have a breakout season, it’s an unenviable task to take on – and those selections have cost England and its manager on more occasions than we can count.
Whether it’s a striker who couldn’t finish his dinner or a keeper who couldn’t kick snow off a rope, you’ll find that where fans put their money, and confidence, tells you a lot about the size of a job that Gareth Southgate has before boarding the plane in June.
Our betting data for the 17/18 domestic season has provided us with a 23-man England squad that should go to the World Cup, based on the players fans are backing with their own money.
Way out in front is leading English scorer, Harry Kane – no doubt his successful claim for a dubious second goal at Stoke raised eyebrows, but it’s that insatiable appetite for goal that means he’s being backed to score game after game.
Amongst every England striker who’s been backed over the course of the domestic season, Harry Kane has received 56% of all bets to be on the scoresheet first or at any time.
It’s no surprise that Kane is 1/12 in our market for ‘To Make The Final 23 Man England World Cup 2018 Squad’. He’s also evens to captain the side in the Three Lions’ opener against Tunisia.
And we’re so confident that Kane will be on the plane to Russia that we’re offering new customers odds of 20/1 on the Tottenham man making the plane. All you have to do is sign up, place a bet on Kane to make the final 23 man England squad at 1/12, and we will top the bet up to 20/1! Get involved here.
By comparison, Jamie Vardy comes in second with 22% of the total backing, Marcus Rashford has been backed by 16% of fans and fourth choice Danny Welbeck is way behind at 6%.
Nick Pope’s Burnley have been backed to win to nil frequently, and Pope’s 10 clean sheets this term have seen his backing rise in the market to 28% and Burnley’s league position climb to 7th.
Only Jordan Pickford, with 25% backing, has managed to match Pope’s 10 shutouts this season and neither has made a single error leading to goal all year.
Much debate around Southgate’s squad is whether Joe Hart should make the cut. With 75 appearances for the national side, his experience may seem invaluable and he retains an 8% share of bets amongst goalkeepers. Yet of all England’s choices, he’s accumulated 4 individual errors leading to goals this season and the less experienced Jack Butland may just board the plane in his place with a 7% backing.
This data looks even more surprising when you look at our specials market ‘Who Will Keep Goal For England At Their First World Cup 2018 Match?’ – Pickford is the 8/11 favourite, while Pope is fourth favourite at 14/1 .
Pope is also a 6/4 shot to make Southgate’s 23 man squad for the tournament.
Manchester makes up the entirety of our back four. City’s runaway success places Kyle Walker as the standout defender, with 46% of bets backing him to keep a clean sheet – his pace and flexibility make him a valuable asset for England, Southgate even employed him at centre back against the Netherlands in March to great effect.
Manchester United’s no-thrills season has been built on a solid foundation – both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have both taken 28% backing while the converted left back Ashley Young has reinvented himself as a formidable fullback gaining 31.6% backing for clean sheets over the course of the season.
This is all despite Smalling, who is out of favour with the England boss Southgate, being 3/1 to be part of the final squad travelling to Russia.
Picking the midfield that sits in front of the defence is seemingly straightforward enough, Tottenham’s Eric Dier and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson received 34% and 13% of bets at the position to keep a clean sheet. These two holding midfielders have been well backed to get a goal first or anytime too, at 44% and 37% respectively.
This should come as no surprise – Dier is 1/12 to make the final squad and Henderson is also 1/10 to be boarding the plane.
Interestingly, Liverpool skipper Henderson is the second favourite to be England’s captain in their first group game at 2/1 , with Dier in at third favourite – he is 7/2 to be wearing the armband when England take to the field against Tunisia on June 18th.
The gap in fans’ confidence between this pairing in the middle of the park and the rest of the English midfield options is massive.
Lewis Cook ( 3/1 to make the 23 man squad) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are next with just a 6% and 5% respective backing to keep a clean sheet. And while a ‘utility’ player such as Fabian Delph could maybe slot into this position – the lack of public confidence in the England midfield shows how hard it will be for Southgate to get it right in Russia.
There’s no shortage of options going forward this year. Raheem Sterling has matured at Manchester City and is enjoying the best goal-scoring season of his career.
Alongside Spurs starlet Dele Alli, these two attackers will likely find themselves starting in Russia and both have been backed to score by 21% of the market.
Joining them in the forward line is another academy graduate from Carrington in Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, who received 16% of the backing for England’s playmakers. Surprisingly though, Theo Walcott (12%) would make the squad despite not having played for England since 2016.
It would indeed be a surprise if Walcott were to feature in Russia – and the betting backs this up, as the Everton winger is 5/1 to make the cut for the final 23 man squad.
Those to miss out based on the research include Burnley’s James Tarkowski, Leicester’s Harry Maguire and Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere.
Maguire (1/8 to make the 23 man squad) is one of the most-backed goal scorers amongst centre backs (15%) but his market share of clean sheets is lower than Jones, Smalling, John Stones and Gary Cahill.
Wilshere meanwhile has just a 4% share amongst scoring midfielders, while Ryan Sessegnon, the only non-Premier League player making a case for a place in the squad, has just a 1% share.
The Arsenal man’s exclusion shows that our customers are not in agreement with our traders – who have Wilshere at 1/3 to be part of Southgate’s final squad for the World Cup.
The complete England squad can be revealed as:
Who would make your England squad?
Find all of our specials markets for the 2018 World Cup here.