Southgate set to include two uncapped teenagers in first World Cup squad
You can't say they haven't earned it
Former Euro 96 penalty-misser and England boss Gareth Southgate, in that order, is considering adding a pair of bright-eyed, uncapped teenagers to his initial World Cup squad for this summer's upcoming tournament in Russia.
The FIFA deadline for the provisional 35-man squad is next Monday, and Southgate has been keeping tabs on two future England internationals in particular. It is now thought they will be now be amongst the names he considers taking to the World Cup.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has been superb for Liverpool in the latter half of the season after injuries to Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez gave the 19-year-old an opportunity in the first team, and the right-back has impressed with his positioning, intelligence and confidence on the ball - all abilities further demonstrated by his performances in centre-midfield over the last couple of weeks.
As mentioned, Joe Gomez is out of the tournament (and after impressing in a friendly against Brazil, he had a good chance of making the squad) and now Kieran Trippier, previously penciled in as Kyle Walker's back-up, is facing injury doubts after limping off against Newcastle United on Wednesday.
Should his scan on Friday prove serious, Alexander-Arnold could well be taking his place on the plane.
The other name high on Southgate's agenda is the Borussia Dortmund prodigy Jadon Sancho who has come alive in the Bundesliga in recent weeks, no less so than against Bayer Leverkusen in a 4-0 drubbing just over a fortnight ago. Sancho showcased his electrifying pace and dribbling in the victory, grabbing his first senior goal for the German club along with two assists.
Sancho moved to Germany for £8 million from Man City last summer was part of the England u-17 squad that won the World Cup, despite being recalled by Dortmund midway through the tournament to join the first team squad.
Both players have a very bright future ahead of them, and whilst Sancho in particular will likely not make the final squad, the fact Southgate is at least paying attention is a good sign.
Although then again, that is his job.