They will not win the world cup because they have excluded the world best player out of their team

  1. Former Arsenal and Aston Villa midfielder Paul Merson believes that England will not win the World Cup due to excluding Chelsea right-back Reece James from the squad.

James picked up a knee injury against AC Milan in the Champions League last month. The 22-year-old has not featured for the Blues since and has been working hard on making a recovery in time for the tournament later this month.

There were speculations that James could still travel with the squad and feature in the latter stages of the tournament. However, Gareth Southgate opted against that and left the Chelsea defender completely out of his squad.

Now, the former Gooner has criticised this decision and believes that the Three Lions are not going to win the cup for excluding James. In his column for the Daily Star (h/t Daily Mail), the 54-year-old gave his criticism.

“If it was Harry Kane he would be going – what’s the difference? We aren’t going to win the World Cup without having James in the team. He is a shoo-in to start and if we took him, he plays in England’s team every day of the week. He is one of our best players. If it was Kane, they would say ‘right we’ll take him and use him after the group stages.”

James has been Chelsea’s best player this season. His performance, both as a right-back and right wing-back has received praise from pundits and opponents alike. The 22-year-old has if anything established himself as one of the best in the world in his position.

Had the injury not happened, it was highly likely that the Cobham graduate would have been Southgate’s first-choice at right-back in Qatar. It is understandable to leave him out for the group stages, but to not take one of their best players when he has the chance to recover and play makes little sense.

Southgate has named three right-backs in his team for the Cup this year. Arsenal defender Ben White has also been named and he has played regularly as a right-back for Mikel Arteta’s side this season. While all these defenders can perform too, leaving out James is likely to be a mistake for Southgate.

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The Three Lions last won the tournament in 1966. Since then, they have come close with Southgate’s side crashing out of the semi-finals against Croatia in the last World Cup. While they go as one of the favourites this year, it remains to be seen if they can bring the cup home.

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