Harry Maguire will start with a back four in England’s World Cup opener against Iran, while Gareth Southgate will play in a 4-3-3 formation after confirming his first tournament debut.
Southgate’s change in formation means there is room for an extra midfielder, with Judy Bellingham making his first World Cup start.
Bukayo Saka leads the way ahead of Phil Foden on the right wing, with Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling joining the front three.
Maguire’s inclusion has only started one Premier League game since September, but the Manchester United defender is believed to have been an integral part of England’s last two major tournaments.
The 29-year-old was instrumental in the Three Lions’ 2018 World Cup semi-final run and was named in England’s team of the tournament as they finished runners-up at Euro 2020.
But starting at Bellingham is less controversial than the 19-year-old, who is enjoying an outstanding season at Dortmund, scoring nine goals in 22 appearances in all competitions this season.
England’s debut XI vs Iran
Pickford, Trippier, Stones, Maguire, Shaw, Bellingham, Rice, Mt. Saka, Sterling, Kane.
Subs: Walker; Grealish Henderson, Rashford Pope Phillips, Dier, Coady, Alexander-Arnold, Foden, White, Ramsdale, Wilson, Gallagher.
Continuity rules for Southgate
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright
“There are no surprises in Gareth Southgate’s team. It’s the way he likes it. This is a manager who puts chemistry and continuity first. To be fair to him, it’s an approach that has served England well in the last two major tournaments.
“There are only two changes to his squad to face Iran, with new faces in Bukkaiosaka and Judy Bellingham, who played against Italy in the Euro 2020 final, and Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips.
“Had it not been for injuries to the Manchester City pair, Southgate might have named the exact same team he did at Wembley last July.
“Harry Maguire’s selection will certainly be up for debate, but Southgate hopes the stability will serve him well as he leads England to his third major tournament as manager.”
‘Positive choice from Southgate’
Sky Sports News Senior Correspondent Rob Dorsett
“It’s what we’ve come to expect with England news.
“Gareth Southgate went with a positive 4-3-3 formation against Iran, where he is expected to return to the bench.
“England will have most of the ball and expect to do most of the runs.
“He’s gone with a back four, so he has an extra midfielder.
“He made his World Cup debut at the age of 19. His athleticism and ability to break the lines make him key.”
England will not be wearing OneLove wristbands at the World Cup.
In a U-turn three hours before the opening match against Iran, England announced that they would not be wearing OneLove wristbands at the World Cup in Qatar.
The FA and Harry Kane have insisted they will wear the armband as a sign of anti-discrimination and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.
But on Monday morning, FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said England were “looking at whether there is another way to show our values” after the team threatened to book a captain wearing a OneLove rainbow armband at World Cups.
About an hour later, England Wales Belgian, Denmark Germany The Dutch and Swiss football associations have confirmed in a statement that they will not be wearing the armbands.
Read more about the story here.
England is expected to kneel before opening against Iran
England will have to kneel before their World Cup opener against Iran, Southgate has confirmed.
England have made a 33-match gesture against racism and equality as football returns from the Covid-19 shutdown.
England will play in Monday’s Group B opener and World Cup without a knee injury in September.
“We have discussed kneeling,” Southgate said. “We feel we should. That’s what we’ve been doing as a team for a long time.
“I am sure, In the Premier League, clubs have certain matches, We understand that it is decided to do this only on great occasions; I think this is the biggest.
“We think it’s a strong statement to go around the world, especially for young people, that inclusivity is very important.”