Ahead of Gareth Southgate naming his England squad on Thursday, we’ll be examining his options across the pitch.
Who has booked their place on the plane to the World Cup? Who is in form and pushing for a call? And who still needs to impress?
Today we take a look at the goalkeepers in contention…
Who was in the squad last time?
Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, Angus Gunn
England were last in action in November, battling to back-to-back goalless draws in friendlies with Germany and Brazil. Stoke’s Jack Butland was expected to start the first of those matches but a broken finger in training saw Everton’s Jordan Pickford make an impressive debut against Germany.
England U21 shot-stopper Angus Gunn of Norwich was called up to cover Butland’s absence before the Brazil game, but regular No 1 Joe Hart returned to the team for that contest. The Manchester City ‘keeper, who is on loan at West Ham, kept a clean sheet against Neymar and co.
How is their form right now?
Just a couple of weeks after that clean sheet against Brazil, Hart’s fortunes dipped and he was dropped by West Ham boss David Moyes after a 4-0 defeat at Everton. He returned to the side for Saturday’s meeting with Burnley, but he was culpable for the Clarets’ third goal, spilling a long-range shot into the path of Chris Wood to finish.
Hart’s continuing struggles have raised questions over his suitability to be England’s No 1 in Russia, but many of England’s other goalkeepers have also struggled to impress in recent months.
Pickford’s save percentage is down at 67.1 per cent. He helped Everton keep a clean sheet against Brighton on Saturday but was culpable for both Burnley goals in their recent 2-1 win over the Toffees, while Butland has returned to full fitness but a glaring error against Leicester undid much of his good work last week.
What are the other options?
This time last year, few would have picked out Burnley’s back-up goalkeeper Nick Pope as a potential World Cup call-up but the former Charlton man has excelled since stepping in for the injured Tom Heaton. Pope has the best save percentage – 80.2 per cent – of any English goalkeeper in the Premier League, has not made a single error leading to a shot or goal, according to Opta, and has starred in some of Burnley’s biggest results of the season.
With Southampton’s Fraser Forster enduring a tough season on the south coast as the Saints flirt with relegation, Pope’s stats make him a standout figure.
Who is Southgate expected to go for?
Southgate backed Hart in December, when quizzed on who should be England’s No 1. Hart, after all, had been the Three Lions’ first-choice through their qualifying campaign which saw them record the best defensive figures in Europe.
However, he also stressed at that time that with the World Cup some way off, Hart would have to continue to show good form – something he has been unable to do on the West Ham bench.
Southgate talked up the great competition for places England had in the goalkeeping department in December. Three months on and the picture is not so clear, with many stoppers struggling for form.
According to Sky Bet, Pickford (1/10), Butland (1/8) and Hart (1/3) are the favourites to make the three-man cut, with Pope (7/4), Heaton (7/2) and Forster (12/1) next in line.
Who should England select?
Choose your 23-man England squad, using our squad selector below. You can share your squad with your friends on social media.
(c) Sky News 2018: England’s goalkeepers: Who should Gareth Southgate take to the World Cup?