Alan Shearer has named his England World Cup starting XI, insisting Kieran Trippier is an absolute must for Gareth Southgate’s defence in Qatar.
The final squad for this winter’s competition is set to be unveiled on Thursday with a number of Premier League stars still in a race to be fit in time.
Chelsea’s Reece James is among those having suffered a knee injury in September with Manchester City star Kyle Walker also recovering from a groin problem.
With doubts over their fitness, it could open up space for Trippier at right-back with the Newcastle United star enjoying an excellent campaign in his favoured role this season.
And should one or both of James or Walker recover in time to start for England’s opener against Iran on 21 November, Shearer insists Trippier should still be in the team – possibly at the expense of Luke Shaw at left-back.
Asked to pick his starting XI, Shearer told Vibe with Five: ‘There are so many ifs. Is Kyle Walker going to be fit? Reece James? So they are big question marks.
‘I would without a doubt have Kieran Trippier in there in my defence, I think he is England’s best defender in those positions.
‘I know Gareth had him left-back start of the Euros. But I will without a doubt have him in the team.’
Shearer picked Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden to support Harry Kane in attack with a midfield three of Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount and Declan Rice.
A back four proved trickier for the Newcastle legend, suggesting Manchester United duo Harry Maguire and Shaw could both miss out.
‘Maybe [Eric] Dier, maybe Shaw,’ Shearer concluded having named John Stones at the heart of defence. ‘If Walker if fit, I would perhaps start Trippier left side.’
Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham appears to be a nailed on starter in Qatar after a sublime season in Germany where has scored nine goals in 20 appearances in all competitions.
‘He could be a superstar,’ Shearer said. ‘He is already going to be superstar. but he could be someone that comes out of the tournament and the whole world is going, “who is this player?” He is that good.’