Harry Maguire will start England’s World Cup opener against Iran in a back four, with Gareth Southgate opting for a 4-3-3 formation.
Southgate’s formation change allows for an extra midfielder in the starting XI, with Jude Bellingham likely to make his World Cup debut.
According to reports, Bukayo Saka will start ahead of Phil Foden on the right wing.
Maguire’s inclusion is controversial given that he has only made one Premier League start since September, but the Manchester United defender has played a key role in England’s last two major tournaments.
The 29-year-old was instrumental in England’s World Cup semi-final run in 2018 and was named to the tournament team as England finished runners-up at Euro 2020.
However, starting Bellingham is less contentious, as the 19-year-old has had an outstanding season at Borussia Dortmund, scoring nine goals in 22 appearances across all competitions this season.
“Gareth Southgate is going to start this World Cup campaign with a flat back four with Harry Maguire at the heart of the defense with John Stones alongside him.
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“That frees up a space in midfield and means he can go 4-3-3, and it’s looking increasingly likely that 19-year-old Jude Bellingham will make his England World Cup debut in the starting XI.
James Maddison and Kylie Walker are out of the Iran match
England’s opener at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha will be missed by James Maddison and Kyle Walker.
Walker is still recovering from groin surgery, and Maddison has not trained since arriving in Qatar due to a knee injury.
England will take a knee before Iran’s first match
Southgate has confirmed that England will take a knee before their World Cup opener against Iran.
When football resumed after the Covid-19 shutdown, England made a gesture against racism and inequality in thirty-three consecutive matches.
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England did not take a knee in September, but they will do so in Monday’s Group B opener and throughout the World Cup.
“We have discussed taking the knee, we feel we should. It’s what we stand for as a team and have done for a long period of time, Southgate said.
“Of course, we understand in the Premier League that clubs have decided to only do that for certain games, big occasions, we feel this is the biggest.”