London — Liverpool’s 19-year-old right back, Trent Alexander-Arnold, received a surprise call-up for England as manager Gareth Southgate put his faith in youth with his final 23-man squad for the upcoming World Cup.
Chelsea’s out-on-loan midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 22, was also given a seat on the plane to Russia after impressing for Crystal Palace this season.
While Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill also makes the trip east, goalkeeper Joe Hart and Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere were both omitted from the squad announced on Wednesday.
Southgate broke with convention by declining to name a provisional 30-man squad, choosing instead to select his preferred 23 well before Fifa’s June 4 deadline.
He did, however, leave the door slightly ajar for five players placed on a standby list.
A former national under-21s manager, Southgate has championed young players since taking over in the wake of Sam Allardyce’s dismissal and has named one of the most callow England squads ever to travel to a major tournament.
Uncapped Alexander-Arnold is the youngest after an amazing breakthrough season with Liverpool, which will culminate in next week’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
There were a few players breathing a sigh of relief. Among them is Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford in the striking department. Leftback Danny Rose was also selected despite playing only 10 Premier League games for Tottenham Hotspur this season.
With Hart’s England days now apparently over after being his country’s senior keeper for the past three tournaments, Everton’s Jordan Pickford is expected to start in goal in England’s opening match against Tunisia on June 18.
He will be joined by Jack Butland, whose domestic season ended in Premier League relegation with Stoke City, and Burnley’s Nick Pope.
Southgate named four out-and-out strikers and, with Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard all named as midfielders, the squad appears to have plentiful goal-scoring options. In Brazil four years ago England managed two goals in three group games and crashed out before the knockout phase.
There was no place for Liverpool’s Adam Lallana, though he is one of the players on standby — as are Burnley keeper Tom Heaton, Burnley defender James Tarkowski, Bournemouth’s 21-year-old midfielder Lewis Cook and Jake Livermore.
England will play friendlies against Nigeria and Costa Rica on June 2 and June 7, respectively, before leaving for Russia on June 12.
Squad: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope; John Stones, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Ashley, Danny Rose, Trent Alexander-Arnold; Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Fabian Delph; Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck