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Andros Townsend names his England starting XI for the first World Cup game

Andros Townsend has revealed who he would pick for England’s first game of the upcoming World Cup and has admitted Gareth Southgate has some tough decisions to make.

The tournament is scheduled to start in exactly two months, with hosts Qatar meeting Ecuador. England will then start their campaign against Iran the following day before taking on the United States and Wales in the other Group B games.

Townsend was embarrassed talkSPORT on Tuesday morning when asked who he would pick for England’s first game if he were in charge. Not surprisingly, Townsend has stood by Everton team-mate Jordan Pickford to maintain his position as England’s No 1 despite his recent injury setback.

“Undoubtedly in goal, although the media is acting like there are better options out there, Jordan Pickford,” Townsend said.

The Toffees winger then explained he would go with a 3-4-3 formation and named Chelsea duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell as his full-backs, with Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire forming the back three.

Townsend’s selection may surprise some as he admitted Maguire and Chilwell have both struggled for game time this season and admitted the latter’s place on the side is “up for grabs” but he chose to be with them nonetheless to stay.

His decision to pick James over Trent Alexander-Arnold could also spark some debate, but Townsend leaned towards the former after the Liverpool defender’s indifferent start to the campaign.

Moving into midfield, Townsend claimed Declan Rice was a safe starter but was reluctant to name the West Ham man’s partner in the middle of the park.

He eventually settled on Jude Bellingham, stating that the teenager should be considered “light” ahead of Mason Mount in the pecking order.

Bellingham has had a strong start to the season in Germany, scoring in both of Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League games so far.

Mount has become a trusted member of Southgate’s first team but is yet to find the net this season and would have to settle for a place on the bench if Townsend had his way.

Townsend completed his team by selecting England regulars Raheem Sterling and captain Harry Kane before saying he would “just” choose Phil Foden over Bukayo Saka.

Should Southgate opt for Townsend’s XI, he would pick eight of the same players who started England’s first game at last year’s EURO against Croatia, with James, Chilwell and Bellingham coming on for Tyrone Mings, Kieran Trippier and Kalvin Phillips.

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