Sven-Goran Eriksson has warned England manager Gareth Southgate against picking Manchester United duo Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw for the World Cup because they aren’t playing regularly.
Both defenders were dropped by United manager Erik ten Hag after a shaky start to the Premier League season and have failed to regain their places from Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia, respectively.
But Maguire and Shaw were still both included in Southgate’s squad for this week’s UEFA Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany, with the England boss likely to stick with his trusted lieutenants for Qatar.
Eriksson, who managed England between 2001 and 2006, has cautioned against taking the pair to the tournament if they don’t regain their United place.
He said: ‘I think it’s difficult for Southgate to pick Maguire and Shaw because if they don’t play regularly, it’s very difficult to let them play in the national team because it’s one thing to train, but it’s another to have a regular routine of games. So that’s a difficult one.’
Eriksson, who led England in two World Cups and a European Championship, also warned against picking Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold in the right-back position.
Southgate has often overlooked Alexander-Arnold in favour of Kyle Walker or Kieran Trippier but he was named in his latest squad despite some worrying early season moments.
Eriksson, speaking to Boyle Sports, said: ‘It’s incredible how many good right-backs there are, you could almost close your eyes and pick one name.
‘I remember during my time we had Gary Neville, or on the other side Ashley Cole, if they were not available it created a problem. But here if one or two right-backs are not available, you can easily put one in.
‘I guess I’d start with Alexander-Arnold or Kyle Walker, one of them.
‘Trent is a fantastic attacker of course, great crosses and a great right foot, extremely good right foot.
‘As a defender he’s not the best in the world but of course if you play for Liverpool, attacking, attacking, they maybe don’t need that.
‘I think it very much depends who the opponent is. For example Brazil, where you will probably not have the ball as much, maybe then you put in one who is stronger defensively.’
The former Three Lions manager also believes Marcus Rashford can still win a place in England’s starting line-up for when they start their World Cup against Iran on November 21.
Rashford looks revitalised under Ten Hag this season after a 2021-22 campaign that started with the disappointment of his missed penalty in the Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy and featured injury problems.
The Man United forward missed out on Southgate’s latest selection because of a muscle problem, with Jadon Sancho, also far better this season, a notable omission.
Eriksson said: ‘In regards to Sancho and Rashford’s absence, I think Rashford should be in the squad. He picked 28 players I think.
‘That’s a lot, I don’t think he can do that for the World Cup, but that means he wants to see as many players as possible. And he wants to work with them and see how they are in training.
‘So I guess it’s normal, but I think some of the players who are not picked still have a chance to be picked when he chooses the World Cup squad.
‘One thing I thought was a little bit strange but good for English football, the players are coming from I think 16/17 different clubs and during my time there were not so many clubs.
‘They have players from Dortmund, players from Roma, which is fantastic so I think it’s strange that there are so many players good enough to play for the national team not only playing for big teams.
‘You are not used to seeing a couple of players from Newcastle and West Ham playing in the national team.’
England play Italy in Milan on Friday night and Germany at Wembley next Monday as they look to avoid the ignominy of relegation from League A of the Nations League.
They trail Italy by three points and realistically must win both games this week to avoid dropping into League B.