Tomorrow afternoon is D-Day for England’s World Cup hopefuls, as Gareth Southgate is all set to announce his official 23-man squad for this summer’s tournament in Russia.
In the opinion of most observers, Southgate isn’t likely to throw any curveballs out there, although the exclusion of a couple of veterans and the inclusion of a wild card or two might well end up happening.
Past England managers, however, have made some World Cup squad picks that truly shocked the fans. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way, and these stunning selections (or non-selections) went on to mixed results at the subsequent tournament.
Here are 5 times that the England manager shocked the fans with his World Cup selection.
#1: Ashley Cole forced into international retirement – World Cup 2014
Despite not playing much football for Chelsea in the club season leading up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it seemed like a given that veteran left-back Ashley Cole would find his way into Roy Hodgson’s squad.
After all, he’d been England’s first choice in the position since 2002 and had played at 5 major tournaments.
Sure, he was slowing down at the age of 33, but after impressive late-season showings against Liverpool and Atletico Madrid, it looked as if he still had something to offer for his international side.
And Hodgson, renowned for being somewhat conservative, would surely take him as the comfortable option.
Surprisingly enough though, Hodgson disagreed, and instead selected Everton’s Leighton Baines, who’d almost been an ever-present for the Toffees in the 2013/14 season – and Southampton youngster Luke Shaw as the left-backs for his squad, omitting Cole entirely.
Cole for his part took the decision well and gave a gracious farewell statement, using the omission as a catalyst to retire from international football.
As it turned out, England probably could’ve done with his experience despite his likely rustiness. Their defence looked soft in the group stage losses to Italy and Uruguay, that saw them eliminated at the first hurdle, and Baines himself was at fault for Mario Balotelli’s winner in the former game.