Manchester United’s England representatives learn World Cup numbers

by Alex Turk

In terms of 2018 FIFA World Cup odds, England are currently 7th favourites to lift the iconic trophy in July.

Bearing in mind the nation’s past fortunes in major tournaments, that could be a long shot even though optimism is as high as it has been for a long time.

Gareth Southgate has included four Manchester United players in his 23-man squad travelling to Russia this summer – Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford.

Defensive duo Jones and Young aren’t expected to have earned starting spots as the tournament kicks off next week, but best friends Lingard and Rashford are heavily contesting for a place in Southgate’s first XI against Tunisia on June 18.

Lingard’s importance to Southgate may be reflected by the shirt number he’s been given – after a terrific season at Man United he’ll sport no. 7.

Young and Rashford have both been given their United numbers, 18 and 19 respectively, which the latter wore as he stole the show in England’s final warm-up game against Costa Rica on Thursday night.

Jones was a bit of a surprise inclusion ahead of United team-mate Chris Smalling, but it’s unlikely he’ll get much game time unless the squad suffers an injury curse. If he does get on the field, he’ll wear no. 16.

The World Cup presents a perfect chance for these four players to stake a claim to starting positions at United in front of Jose Mourinho ahead of the 2018-19 season. Only time will tell whether they take it.

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