Three ways England could line up against Iran in World Cup opener – with Southgate mulling over major formation change | The Sun

ENGLAND's World Cup 2022 opener against Iran is just days away with Gareth Southgate's men already hard at work in Qatar.

The Three Lions reached the semi-finals in the 2018 edition of the tournament, being defeated by Croatia.


And they lost the Euro 2020 final on home soil to Italy.

Southgate and Co will be hoping to go a step further and win the World Cup – which would be England's first since 1966.

However, England cannot afford to take world No20 Iran lightly and Southgate will have to field a strong side to start the tournament on the right foot.

One thing is for certain: James Maddison and Kyle Walker will NOT be featuring.

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Foxes ace Maddison missed full England training ahead of the Three Lions' group opener.

While Manchester City ace and England veteran Walker is stepping up his return from groin surgery.

The defender is taking part in sessions at England's training base at the Al Wakrah SC Stadium, but Monday's game will come too soon.

So, how might Southgate's England line up against Iran? And will the England boss be tempted to make a formation change?

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Reliable 4-2-3-1

THE 4-2-3-1 is one of Southgate's tried and tested formations.

Southgate likes to protect his back four, and in the early stages of the tournament he used this formation with dynamic duo Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips maintaining order in the midfield.

It could be used again with Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, John Stones and Kieran Trippier protecting Jordan Pickford.

Rice will keep his place, with the West Ham captain among England's MOST important players.

There will be no place for Phillips, who is returning from injury, and so 19-year-old Jude Bellingham will get the nod.

Mason Mount is another of Southgate's favoured players, and he could start in the middle of the three playing behind captain Harry Kane.

Raheem Sterling can man the left flank while Arsenal boy wonder Bukayo Saka attack's Iran's left side of the defence.

Ambitious 4-3-3

BARRING one or two names in Sterling and Reece James, this is England's strongest team.

It would require Southgate being more bold and playing Phil Foden in the heart of the midfield, close to Bellingham with Rice sitting.

In-form Marcus Rashford could replace Sterling on the left and provide more direct running in behind Iran's defence.

Captain Kane likes to drop deep and play as a No10 at times so having pace in Rashford and Saka will be key.

Meanwhile in defence, Trippier keeps his place with Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold unlikely to be trusted in a back four.

Safety first 3-4-3

SOUTHGATE brings out the 3-4-3 against the big boys.

Usually deployed in the knockouts, but he could look to get England's first win under the belt with a more robust approach.

This change could allow a number of changes, including bringing Alexander-Arnold in as a wing-back.

England will need to make up for playing with an extra defender in the back three and the Liverpool man will be key for supplying his attacking pals.

Arsenal's Ben White can cover for Alexander-Arnold, joining Stones and Maguire in the back three.

Walker would usually play this role but he's missing.

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Saka could drop to the bench with Sterling starting on the right, and Jack Grealish could be England's attacking spark on the left.

Rice, Bellingham, Shaw, Maguire, Stones and Pickford are the mainstays in Qatar.

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