Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has named his preferred England starting XI for the World Cup this winter, and it includes Newcastle United defender Kieran Trippier.
The 32-year-old is currently on international duty with the Three Lions, alongside Toon teammate Nick Pope.
But while the Newcastle summer signing doesn’t feature in Merson’s England side, Trippier does. However, he isn’t starting him in a conventional role.
Rather than picking him on the right of defence, the former Arsenal star has got Trippier playing on the left…
Paul Merson’s strange England World Cup XI
England kick off their World Cup campaign on November 21st against Iran. There are plenty of players vying for a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting lineup, including Trippier.
However, the £12million man has a lot of competition if he wants to start in his preferred position of right-back. England also have Reece James, Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold who can play there.
But Trippier is a favourite of Southgate’s, and will fancy his chances of featuring. Merson thinks he will, but as a left-back.
The pundit has actually named three right-backs in his back four, with Walker playing as a centre-back next to John Stones. Merson has given the right-back nod to Liverpool’s Alexander-Arnold, leaving James out completely.
It’s a pretty wild back four, and not one that England fans will expect can lead the nation to World Cup glory.
And while Trippier has played on the left of defence before for his country, there are surely other options that should be ahead of him. But it speaks volumes of Trippier’s adaptability and professionalism that Merson thinks he should be starting ahead of the likes of Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw.
Jordan Pickford is chosen to start in goal ahead of Pope, which is understandable at the moment. While he can be questionable for his club, the former Sunderland stopper has never let his country down on the international stage.
But Pope will hope to stake his claim during the upcoming Nations League games and force his way into Southgate’s side.
Regardless of whether Pope or Trippier start for England at the World Cup, it’s just exciting to have Newcastle players in contention after years of no one getting close. It’s a further sign of the changing times at St James’ Park.