Who will captain England at World Cup 2018?
Lions prowling for a new leader
Goalkeeper Joe Hart played out England’s 2-0 win over Lithuania at Wembley on Sunday as stand-in captain, and did himself no harm in getting the call going forward.
The shot-stopper has problems of his own at the minute however – do Man City want him back, and if not, where will he be playing his football in the summer? The 29-year-old seemed quick to distance himself from taking the England armband full-time, telling the press after that World Cup qualifying win that Wayne Rooney remains captain, and he was merely helping out.
It looked like Hart was third-choice anyway, and only got the nod as Gary Cahill, who had done the job against Germany in that friendly defeat a few days earlier, was suspended. So, if we take it for granted that England will be playing in the World Cup next year, who is the man to lead Gareth Southgate’s side onto the pitch in Russia?
Cahill the man for the job?
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill is the obvious pick for next captain. At only 31-years-old, the centre-back still has plenty of time on his side and has at least two major tournaments left in him. Modern footballers are living a life that prolongs their career, and Cahill seems the perfect role model in a period of transition for the Three Lions.
He boasts big game experience in the blue of Chelsea, and will have a league winner’s medal in his possession soon enough. Cahill has played club football for the likes of Aston Villa and Bolton, as well as Chelsea, and has come up through the ranks at England too, playing at U20, U21 and senior level. He’s current vice-captain at both Chelsea and England, and seems ready for a move up in both sides. He was also placed in a position of responsibility at Bolton earlier in his career, so has no lack of experience as a leader. A respected member of the team, Southgate’s choice looks obvious.
Does Kane hold the key?
Injured at the moment, Harry Kane has got to be in with a shout. Recently described as one of the best strikers in the world at the minute, by Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino. 23-year-old Kane would certainly be a long-term replacement for Rooney, and a player who fills a similar role in the team.
A model professional, Kane has the ability to win football matches on his own, as shown in the white of Spurs more than once this season. He has experience leading a team out too, having captained the Lilywhites early in his career, and has been called upon to do the same more recently, taking charge against Palace at the lane back in September. His chances of getting the nod were given a serious boost when Southgate spoke to the media about Kane’s leadership qualities. In terms of a hint, that looks strong.
Stones a rock in the dressing room?
Looking for a younger option and the progressive John Stones may be a shout. The Manchester City defender was given the backing of manager Pep Guardiola recently, with the experienced gaffer telling the press that he loves Stones, and that he had the biggest balls in the dressing room. I’m not sure what that has to do with playing football, but a glowing reference from a manager of Pep’s standing has to be respected.
The 22-year-old is another who has developed through the youth ranks of England, playing at U19, U20, U21 and senior level. It would be a leap of faith for Southgate, but he certainly appears to have the confidence to step up and lead England back to glory, if called upon.