Former England captain Rio Ferdinand has called on Gareth Southgate to resist the urge to name experienced defender Gary Cahill in his side for the World Cup opener against Tunisia.
Cahill, 32, picked up his 60th senior cap as he came off the bench against Costa Rica on Thursday, having earned a spot in Southgate’s squad for Russia despite being dropped earlier in the year.
A strong end to the campaign at Chelsea, which saw him lift the FA Cup, saw Cahill recalled and he started and scored in the first warm-up match with Nigeria last weekend.
Kyle Walker is expected to be on Southgate’s teamsheet when the tournament gets under way, with his Manchester City colleague John Stones pushing for a place in defence having been the only man to start both friendlies.
Harry Maguire of Leicester is another option and ex-QPR defender Ferdinand believes Cahill should remain on the sidelines as Southgate’s side get their World Cup under way a week on Monday.
Asked if Cahill should start to bring experience into the England back three, Ferdinand replied: “No. I am not going there to win the tournament if I am the manager, and I think Gareth Southgate is going there to be competitive and to learn and build for a later tournament.
“He knows the underbelly of what is coming through better than anyone, being the (former) England Under-21s manager.
“He would have been looking at the Under-16s, 17s and 18s when he was there so he knows what is coming.
“There is no doubt in my mind he has got a board in his office, he has got the current squad but also the next three or four years mapped out – who is coming through if they get the right development.
“I can see him looking further ahead than just this tournament.”
While many are not expecting England to go all the way in Russia, Ferdinand feels leaving the competition with no regrets would still be going one better than when he was involved in the international set-up.
“Just go out there, it is not rocket science. Go out and try and enjoy it,” he said.
“As important is the manager setting down the tone of the team early. I think it is important that these guys, which they seem to have done, buy into a philosophy of playing. They all know he is going to.”