Big Sam & Sammy Lee Pick Their England Starting XI
In Episode one of the No Tippy Tappy Football podcast with Sam Allardyce via William Hill, featuring Sammy Lee as a guest, the famous management duo went through their preferred England starting XI for the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Both Sam and Sammy had to make compromises in their selections and offered their insight and opinions throughout the podcast on the players that they chose for their combined XI.
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford
Everton’s Jordan Pickford was named in goal, with Sammy praising him to be the best goalkeeper in the country.
The 28-year-old was one of the players of the tournament at Euro 2020 and even managed to save two penalties in the Three Lions' loss to eventual champions Italy in the final, with ‘Big Sam’ regarding this as unlucky, and that usually, a goalkeeper who does this would've won the team the tournament.
Pickford has made 45 caps for England and has been an ever-present since making his debut in November 2017.
Defence: Reece James, Harry Maguire, Conor Coady & Luke Shaw
The England defence is something that does cause a lot of debate amongst the fanbase, with there being several options in each position, on top of some believing that the Three Lions would be better off ditching the back five that Southgate deploys.
Chelsea right-back Reece James was picked ahead of some stern competition, narrowly edging out Kyle Walker in Sam’s eyes, meaning that he is also ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier.
James has been a superb asset for Chelsea in terms of both defensive qualities and attacking numbers, with the 22-year-old managing to score 11 and create 21 assists in 134 matches for the Blues. He has made 15 caps for the Three Lions so far.
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire may have had a torrid time since Euro 2020, but, he has been given full backing here, with Allardyce stating that he is a quality centre-back. The 29-year-old has made 48 caps for his country and was quintessential to their successes at the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020.
Conor Coady might be a shock choice, however, Sammy is evidently a fan of the 29-year-old Everton centre-back - mentioning his good personality and leadership skills.
The Liverpudlian has made a total of ten caps for England and regularly features in and around the squad due to his leadership and personality. Since joining Everton from Wolves, the Toffees' defence has significantly improved, conceding 12 times in 12 Premier League games - the fifth-best record in the division.
Similarly to the right-back situation, two choices were brought up in the conversation, with Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell being the ones considered.
Shaw got the nod here, and like his club teammate Maguire, the ex-Southampton left-back had a poor 2021/22 season for United after such a strong Euro 2020 campaign where he even scored in the final against Italy.
Of late, it looks as though the 27-year-old could have rescued his starting XI place ahead of Tyrell Malacia at club level, having started in the Red Devils' last four league matches.
Midfield: Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham & Mason Mount
Declan Rice is a player that has been frequently linked with moves away from West Ham United due to his outstanding qualities across the pitch, on top of his leadership skills. He is a phenomenal player at the age of 23.
The Hammers’ captain was vital at Euro 2020 and could’ve arguably been named as a potential Man of the Match candidate in the final due to his impressive display.
The next midfielder to be chosen is Borussia Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham, who is perhaps the most sought-after midfielder in world football right now.
Sammy mentions that he doesn’t understand why Liverpool are waiting an extra year in the hope of signing the ex-Birmingham man if he is key to their plans, while Allardyce also gives the 19-year-old praise, stating that it was a blow for any of the big English sides to miss out on signing Bellingham prior to his move to the Signal Iduna Park.
Bellingham is already the Black and Yellows’ captain and is having a superb season, scoring four and creating one assist in five Champions League matches.
Mason Mount has been a favourite of Southgate’s since making his Three Lions debut in September 2019.
The 23-year-old has made 32 caps for England, scoring five times, including last time out in the Three Lions' 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley Stadium. Interestingly, Mount played in the same system that Southgate deploys with England when Thomas Tuchel was Chelsea's manager, showing that he is a tactically versatile player following his recent adaptations to Graham Potter’s methods.
Forwards: Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane & Phil Foden
Lee decided to choose Saka for the right-wing, due to the energy that the 21-year-old provides.
The Arsenal academy graduate is having a superb season for the Gunners who currently sit at the top of the Premier League standings, as he has scored four goals and created four assists in 11 league matches. On top of this, it is well known that Saka is a very popular member of the England camp amongst his teammates, further adding to the good atmosphere that has been created.
As Allardyce says the striker position picks itself, with Three Lions captain Harry Kane leading the line.
The 29-year-old won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and has 51 goals in 75 caps for England. On top of this, Kane is the Premier League’s second top scorer behind Erling Haaland, with ten goals in 12 matches.
The final player here is Manchester City winger Phil Foden, who can also play as an attacking midfielder in a midfield three.
Foden, who is just 22 years old has already shown signs of becoming one of City’s greatest-ever players and has been in red-hot form so far in the 2022/23 campaign, scoring seven times and creating three assists.
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