Southgate is picking his World Cup squad and there are players he should choose even if they lack international experience
It is that time of year again. The hawthorns are in bloom. The cow parsley is high. Men in shorts have already begun to gather cautiously in public places, puffing their chests, milk-white ankles proudly bared. And by Wednesday lunchtime mid-summer will make an early appearance with the announcement of an England squad for the World Cup in Russia.
It is generally assumed Gareth Southgate is getting his selection for Russia 2018 out there a little early for the simple reason the squad basically picks itself. In the best possible sense this has become the most managed, carefully pondered England era, with no place for the last-second celebrity metatarsal dash, the drama of the Hoddle-style hotel squad countdown or any kind of Crouchie-doing-the-robot for Prince William triumphalism.