With England having long been assured of qualification for next summer’s World Cup, Gareth Southgate will have had plenty of time to evaluate which players he should be considering for a place in his squad.

This week’s two friendlies – against top class opposition in the form of Germany and Brazil – will provide a valuable benchmark, but he can’t ignore what’s been happening in the Premier League.

With the help of data from StrataBet calculated from the start of last season, BetStars has picked its suggested starting 11 for this week’s game from the current England squad and looked more broadly at who should be given a seat on the plane to Russia in June.

and the data suggests that he deserves his place in the starting XI.

For each playing position – assuming Southgate sticks with the three-man defence that he deployed in their most recent fixture – BetStars has isolated the most relevant key stat and ranked every English player based on their Premier League performances since the start of last season.

Southgate’s job has been made tougher by the unusually large number of withdrawals, but there’s still a strong starting line-up available to him.

In goal, Jordan Pickford should be given a chance to justify his large summer transfer fee, as only the injured Tom Heaton has pulled off more saves for each Premier League goal conceded recently.

Ben Foster would be the next choice, with current squad members Jack Butland and Joe Hart ranking a distant fifth and sixth respectively after disappointing starts to their domestic campaigns.

Three of the top five centre backs – ranked by fewest central 18-yard entries allowed per 90 minutes – are still in contention to face Germany and Brazil.

John Stones, Gary Cahill and Phil Jones are all established at top flight clubs, with youngster Stones encouragingly ranked best of all, but there are some surprising names emerging behind them on the shortlist.

Newcastle’s Jamaal Lascelles – already their captain and heralded by Magpies legend Alan Shearer – and Lewis Dunk of fellow top-flight newcomers Brighton have both excelled at stopping opponents in their tracks and should be considered for an audition at international level.

Both arguably made more sense for this month’s squad as they have allowed fewer than seven entries per 90 minutes while Harry Maguire and Michael Keane have each permitted over nine and rank among the poorest options overall by this measure.

Focusing on the defensive side of a full back’s game, Southgate may be relieved to learn that he has already handed the Premier League’s top recent performer a chance to impress.

Joe Gomez has allowed fewer entries down the right per 90 minutes than anyone else, and Danny Rose has topped the charts on the left, so both should get some game time this week.

However, when Gomez’s Liverpool team-mate Nathaniel Clyne returns from injury then it may be worth moving one of them over to the left at Rose’s expense given how well the Reds duo have performed individually.

While England seem to have already identified the best options available at full back, Huddersfield’s Tommy Smith has emerged as a surprise contender as potential cover given his impressive showing this season.

Starting with the more defensively-minded players, Fabian Delph and Jordan Henderson have let fewer opponents past them per 90 minutes than any of their fellow countrymen in this position.

 

 

 

 

 

However, of the players available, a partnership of Crystal Palace loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Eric Dier stands out in the data, although Dier only ranks eighth best overall while Southgate’s only other options in his current squad – Jake Livermore and Jack Cork are behind Loftus-Cheek in the rankings.

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When compiling a shortlist for Russia, Southgate should also check out Isaac Hayden and Dale Stephens – both among the top five Englishmen by this measure – as insurance against any further absences in this department.

Attacking Midfielders – Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard

Moving out of the engine room and into the creative departments, Southgate is currently without the services of his three best performers: Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli.

In the interim, the emerging Manchester United duo of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford have been involved in the most chances per 90 minutes of the options available and won’t get a better chance to show what they can do.

However, in the build-up to next summer’s tournament, Southampton’s Nathan Redmond, whose only senior cap to date was coincidentally against Germany back in March is another strong option. Redmond has been the heartbeat of the Saints’ attack this season and has been involved in almost as many goalscoring chances – as either creator or finisher – as the injured Alli.

There’s only room for one starting striker in this formation and, when he’s fit, you’d get some funny looks if you weren’t writing Harry Kane’s name on the team sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Kane will not feature for England agaisnst Germany (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The Spurs frontman has banged in almost a goal per game in the Premier League since the start of last season, but in Kane’s absence England will have to make do with Jamie Vardy and his more modest scoring rate for now.

Tammy Abraham is an outside shout given that he’s almost matched Vardy’s output since his loan move to Swansea, edging out the more established duo of Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll.

 

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