LONDON: England’s squad for the World Cup finals in Russia next month included three minor surprises.
One was the choice of uncapped Nick Pope as No3 goalkeeper rather than Joe Hart, a second the choice of young Liverpool rightback Trent Alexander-Arnold and a third the inclusion of Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph.
England have been matched in the group stage with newcomers Panama, Tunisia and Belgium.
Goalkeepers: Butland (Stoke), Pickford (Everton), Pope (Burnley). Defenders: Walker, Stones (both Man City), Trippier, Rose (both Tottenham), Young, Jones (both Man Utd), Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Maguire (Leicester), Cahill (Chelsea). Midfielders: Dier, Alli (both Tottenham), Henderson (Liverpool), Delph (Man City), Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Lingard (Man Utd). Forwards: Kane (Tottenham), Rashford (Man Utd), Vardy (Leicester), Sterling (Man City), Welbeck (Arsenal).
Stand-by: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski (both Burnley), Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Jake Livermore (West Brom) and Adam Lallana (Liverpool).
Allardyce and Moyes out
** Everton have sacked Sam Allardyce as manager after only six months. Allardyce had been appointed last autumn to keep Everton in the Premier League after a poor start to the season under Ronald Koeman. Marcos Alonso, their initial target, is favourite to take over.
West Ham are also looking for a new manager after deciding not to extend the contract of David Moyes.
** Aston Villa, one of the founders of English league football, are one game away from a return to elite level in the Premier League. They will play Fulham in the promotion play-off final at Wembley after holding Middlesbrough goalless at Villa Park, Birmingham, to win their semi-final 1-0 on aggregate.
Stewart Downing’s 89th-minute free-kick against the bar was as close as Boro came to forcing extra time as Villa survived to progress thanks to a lone headed goal from Australian World Cup captain Mile Jedinak in the first leg. Villa also escaped a late penalty appeal.
Fulham reached the final by defeating Derby County 2-0 at Craven Cottage and overturning last week’s 1:0 goal defeat in the Midlands. Ryan Sessegnon and Denis Odoi scored the goals. Fulham need to win at Wembley to have any hope of keeping highly-rated teenager Sessegnon.
The play-off final has been labelled the “richest game in football” with an estimated worth of £170m in Premier League revenues.