England World Cup squad: The five guaranteed starters in Gareth Southgate’s best XI

Gareth Southgate's World Cup XI

By the time next year's World Cup comes around, Gareth Southgate will no doubt have a whole host of selection headaches to deal with. 

As ever, whatever starting XI he does opt for come the opening game, he'll be met with intense scrutiny from fans and pundits alike who don't agree with his picks. 

With a lot of football to be played between now and then, England hopefuls have plenty of time to give the manager something to mull over before picking his final squad.

A plethora of impressive young talent, the likes of Bukayo Saka, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden, will also be hoping to lock down their own starting spots in the not-so-distant future, meaning big choices could lay ahead and some familiar faces could drop out.

But who are the ones most safe in Southgate's side? Throughout his tenure as England boss, there are a number of players we know the manager believes he can rely upon in the big moments in a tournament setting. 

Kyle Walker vs Hungary

Kyle Walker

When Kyle Walker saw red against Iceland in 2020, even he was talking about whether it could spell the end of his England career. 

That rash challenge appeared to be something of a turning point for the Manchester City man though, who has ever since cut a far more composed and reliable figure. Walker's turn-of-pace has helped teammates out of sticky situations on more than one occasion, and it was clear Southgate saw the value of that throughout the Euros. 

Despite fierce competition at right-back, it's likely the 31-year-old's priceless experience will secure his starting spot for at least this one more tournament. 

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Declan Rice England

Declan Rice

Declan Rice's development into a near-complete central midfielder over the last couple of years has been nothing short of phenomenal. 

There's never really been any doubting his capabilities as a purely holding midfielder, but since adding the ability to drive forward with the ball and provide key passes in attacking transitions, he's quickly become one of the Premier League's best.

Southgate's tendency to play it safe in midfield and employ two defensively-minded CMs means Rice is all-but-guaranteed a spot in the starting XI.

Harry Maguire celebrates for England

Harry Maguire

The Manchester United centre-back has faced intense criticism at club level this season. The current struggles at Old Trafford have been extremely well-documented and the opportunity to get away on this latest international break provided a welcome getaway for the 28-year-old.

Despite that drop in form, and question marks over his fitness, Southgate had no second thoughts about including him as a starter against both Albania and San Marino, games he quite easily could have been rested for.

Given that, it seems it'll take something fairly drastic for his inclusion to be cast into doubt when it comes to Qatar. 

Harry Kane celebrates for England

Harry Kane

Another who hasn't exactly excelled at club level this campaign, but in an England shirt, is simply undroppable in the eyes of Southgate.

With Wayne Rooney's all-time England scoring record just around the corner, the England captain looks certain to become the country's most prolific striker to date.

Jordan Pickford England goalkeeper

Jordan Pickford

The number one spot in the national side has often been something of a cursed chalice for goalkeepers, and a number of high-profile howlers have spelled abrupt ends to England careers throughout the years.

However, so far, Jordan Pickford has avoided such a fate. Question marks have often been raised about his performances at club level, but on the whole he's never really let England down. 

Aaron Ramsdale is doing his best to stake a claim after enjoying a fine start to life at Arsenal, though it's unlikely Southgate will turn his back on a goalkeeper that has consistently been his go-to man, especially with the tournament getting underway in just one years' time. 

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