Rio Ferdinand leaves out Jack Grealish and Mason Mount from his England starting XI for the 2022 World Cup and includes THREE right backs… so who makes the Manchester United icon’s cut for the first game in Qatar?
- England recorded wins against Ivory Coast and Switzerland in the past week
- Matches provided boss Gareth Southgate with more selections headaches
- There are fewer than eight months to go until the 2022 World Cup kicks off
- Rio Ferdinand has named his starting XI and left out established top-flight stars
Rio Ferdinand has named his England starting XI for this winter’s World Cup and has left out a host of Premier League stars.
Time is running out for Three Lions players to book their place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the showpiece event in Qatar, with just six Nations League fixtures left before the tournament.
The latest international break saw England record victories in friendlies against Switzerland and Ivory Coast at Wembley, with the latter seeing the likes of Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings get on the scoresheet and Jude Bellingham impressing.
Rio Ferdinand has named his England starting XI for this winter’s World Cup in Qatar
Time is running out for Three Lions stars to book their place in Gareth Southgate’s squad
They no doubt provided Southgate with yet more selection headaches ahead of the 2022 World Cup – when England will look to go one better than they did at Euro 2020 – but ex-England centre-back Ferdinand has offered up his opinion.
Speaking on his Vibe with Five podcast, Ferdinand omitted Manchester City centre-back John Stones from his defence, saying: ‘I’m going to go three at the back as I think that’s our best chance.
‘[Harry] Maguire on the left, Kyle Walker central and Reece James on the right. Trent [Alexander-Arnold] at right wing-back and [Luke] Shaw left wing-back.’
Ferdinand however spring a surprise in midfield, firstly by splitting up the Euro 2020 partnership of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips and then by snubbing the likes of Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson by saying: ‘I’m going to go Declan [Rice] and [Jude] Bellingham.’
Ferdinand left Bukayo Saka (left) and Jadon Sancho (right) out of his England starting XI
Ferdinand also chose to omit Chelsea’s Mason Mount (left) and Man City’s Jack Grealish (right)
Then in attack, the likes of Man City’s £100million star Jack Grealish, Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount, Arsenal star Bukayo Saka and Man United forward Jadon Sancho were also snubbed, with Ferdinand adding: ‘[Phil] Foden in the hole and then two strikers – [Raheem] Sterling and [Harry] Kane.’
Further explaining his selections and how the team would play in Qatar later this year, Ferdinand said: ‘Reece James coming out with the ball coming into midfield because he can do that; he played midfield as a kid.
‘Trent out on the right. Walker centre, he’s covering the whole backline on his own.
‘My midfield, Declan, Jude and Foden dropping in as a number 10 and coming back into midfield.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was also left out of Ferdinand’s starting XI in Qatar
The former defender opted for a midfield of Declan Rice and teenager Jude Bellingham (above)
Manchester City centre-back John Stones was excluded from Ferdinand’s defence
RIO FERDINAND’S ENGLAND STARTING XI IN QATAR
(3-4-1-2): Pickford; James, Walker, Maguire; Alexander-Arnold, Rice, Bellingham, Shaw; Foden; Kane, Sterling
‘Free role for Sterling, he can go where he wants, Kane holding the ball up and running behind.’
While his form has been impressive this season, the selection of Bellingham ahead of more experienced colleagues is perhaps the most surprising. But Grealish heaped praise on the ex-Birmingham midfielder after his man-of-the-match display against Ivory Coast.
‘I haven’t actually (played with a teenager who is that good),’ Grealish said. ‘It is scary how good he is at 18.
‘He is just so mature. He is built like he is my age at 26. He has so much technical ability and he is mature for his age.
‘I can tell you one thing, I was nowhere near as good at 18. I was at Notts County (on loan from Villa) and I was a scrawny little thing as well.
‘You see talented 18 or 19-year-old kids but not many are that mature as he is on the pitch. He is so versatile and can play in many different positions on the pitch.
‘He can be a six, eight or a 10. It was good to play with him and I think it was my first time playing with him. It is nice to play with a fellow Brummie.’