We got a good look this weekend at this England squad that is going to the World Cup in Russia.

Gareth Southgate kicking off against Nigeria with what looked pretty much his first team, then bringing on five squad players in the second half.

They actually played decent in the first half and scored a couple of goals that won the match, then dropped off a bit in the second half as they maybe tried to see out the game.

All in all a standard pre-tournament friendly which told us nothing new, reminding us that England will usually be able to ease past poorer lower ranked countries – but are almost sure to struggle when playing anybody of high quality in a competitive game. That being the story of the past 20 years or more.

England have got a few good players but the ratio of quality to workers/average is too low.

From a Newcastle perspective, watching England gave me quite a lot of hope.

As we know, many/most of the very best players, at the top Premier League clubs, aren’t English.

However, we should though be able to believe that the bulk of this England squad is at least representative of top ten, or top eight club quality in the English top tier.

I would rate Walker, Stones, Vardy, Kane and Sterling, as capable of playing for any club in the Premier League and most abroad as well.

However, that does leave another 18 players in that World Cup England squad.

Three of them are good but not brilliant keepers, whilst you have at least these eight outfield players as well: Welbeck, Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Dier, Loftus Cheek and Delph.

When I compare their quality, I don’t think any of the keepers are better than Martin Dubravka, whilst Jamaal Lascelles, Florian Lejeune, Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame, on the second half of last season’s form, aren’t of a lower standard than those England outfield players named.

My point is that I think Newcastle have at least half a team already, who are good enough to be top eight Premier League players. Not writing the rest off and for example Yedlin could show further improvement and be seen at that same level.

However, I would say definitely those five, and so if Rafa can find another three or four of a similar, or better, standard then Newcastle could start the season with eight or nine players in the team/squad who are top eight level players.

Not quite at the level to compete with Man City just yet…but certainly potentially capable of challenging to be best of the rest outside the top five or six, if getting the luck, especially staying away from injuries.

After that, who knows if you get real luck coming your way, plus then build with more quality in future windows.

The full England squad:


Pickford, Butland, Pope


Alexander-Arnold, Cahill, Jones, Maguire, Rose, Stones, Trippier, Walker, Young


Alli, Delph, Dier, Henderson, Lingard, Loftus Cheek, Sterling


Kane, Rashford, Vardy, Welbeck

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  • Leazes.

    You need to build a squad not a team…. dope!

    • TheNutJob

      tea for Mr leazes make sure it`s lemon, no sugar🍋

      • Leazes.

        I see Simon is using a lot more local names, so its a step in the right direction….. if only I could change his political perspective…..tsk

    • Nut

      Agreed, but means to an end, we are unlikely to see the finances given to Rafa to reform the whole playing squad unless miraculously he sells players for massive money.

      Given the budget constraints that are likely then the next best thing is to build a team…. hopefully existing players can play back up for now until we can use future finances to bring in others to replace and move the dross on again.

      It’s a constant circular process and we will always want to improve but I agree we do need more strength in depth within this team, just I don’t think we will get everything this window or even the next but maybe in time.

  • Leicester Mag

    Kind of ignores the fact that most top 8 have 10-11 international England class players and many top 6 have another 4-5 warming the bench.

    • TheNutJob

      as leazes said, you need a squad not 5 or 6

  • Billmag

    I fear there’s a howler waiting for Pickford, Sterling needs 4 or 5 chance’s to score 1goal, Cahill and Stones are to slow, Ali has gone off the boil, I fear we will struggle to get out of the group stages.

  • Geordiegiants

    If any of our better player can improve or at least maintain last seasons second half performances, and we can add a winger and striker at the least, we could be a decent team, the squad would leave a lot to be desired, but we would have a very good first 11.