Recovered yet?

Millions of football fans across the country are still nursing broken hearts following England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy. But the next World Cup is less than 18 months away and attention will swiftly turn to going one step further in Qatar.

We’ve taken a look back at talkSPORT’s predicted line-up from 2017 to see how likely they are to start at the finals.

Jack Butland

Joe Hart was still England goalkeeper back in 2017, but talkSPORT correctly predicted that he wouldn’t last much longer.

Their choice of successor looked astute too – Butland was a solid Premier League performer at Stoke City and already appeared six times for England.

But the Bristolian suffered with numerous injuries and Stoke’s relegation in 2018 saw his stock gradually fall. After two seasons in the Championship, Butland moved to Crystal Palace on a season-long loan and only played twice.

Interestingly, talkSPORT did namecheck England’s current shot-stopping hero. They wrote that Butland would “have competition from Hart, Freddie Woodman (England’s U20s highly-rated goalkeeper) and Jordan Pickford.”

After winning the Golden Glove and conceding just twice at Euro 2020, it’s difficult to see anyone else but Pickford as Gareth Southgate’s first choice in Qatar.

Kyle Walker

Walker was expected to retain his spot at right-back, although facing competition from Mason Holgate, Kyle Walker-Peters and Kieran Trippier.

talkSPORT wrote: “Walker will have adapted his game slightly after losing a yard of pace, but will still get forward well, using his knowledge and reading of the game to get in excellent positions.”

While working under Pep Guardiola has undoubtedly reshaped Walker’s game, he retains a lightning pace and often acts as a one-man barrier to counter-attacks.

Walker made the Team of the Tournament at Euro 2020, so the right-back slot is his to lose. He’ll still only be 32 come Qatar, but there’s Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold snapping at his heels.

John Stones

He probably wouldn’t have started the tournament had it not been postponed for a year, but Stones regained his best form during the 2020-21 season and started every game of England’s Euro campaign.

While it’s taken time for Stones to iron out the mistakes in his game, talkSPORT were correct to observe that his £50million price tag is barely mentioned these days.

The Manchester City man will almost certainly be first choice next year.

Michael Keane

For a while, it seemed like Keane would be starting alongside Maguire at this summer’s Euros. But a loss of form at Everton meant the defender wasn’t even included in the squad for the tournament.

Speaking about his omission from the World Cup qualifiers in March, he said: “I was surprised to be left out. I’d been in squads before and was playing well. I only found out when it got announced on Sky.

“Obviously I’m going to keep what was said between ourselves but I know the door is still open. I’ve just got to keep playing well and see what happens.”

We can’t get over talkSPORT listing Phil Jones as a viable starting centre-back for 2022. It makes you realise England have come a long way in a short space of time. To be fair, Harry Maguire had only just left Hull City for Leicester back in 2017.

Ben Chilwell

Chilwell has developed into an excellent left-back, securing a big-money move to Chelsea in 2020 and winning the Champions League in his debut season.

But he didn’t play a single minute at Euro 2020 while Luke Shaw became one of the stars of the tournament.

talkSPORT foresaw the rivalry between the two, stating: ‘Chilwell will know he cannot slip up though, with a 27-year-old Luke Shaw providing tough competition.’

We’ll give them this one. A good shout, considering he was only just breaking into Leicester’s first team back then.

Lewis Cook

Cook had just captained England’s U20 side to World Cup glory and was tipped to cement himself in Bournemouth’s midfield under the watchful eye of future national team manager Eddie Howe.

And Cook made his England debut during the friendly with Italy in 2018 before being named on the standby list for the Russia World Cup.

He hasn’t been called up since. Serious injuries have stalled his development and players such as Declan Rice and former Leeds team-mate Kalvin Phillips have emerged to become England heroes.

Cook is still on Bournemouth’s books and still has plenty of time to realise his potential if he can put his horrible history of injuries behind him.

Eric Dier

“Years after being part of Mauricio Pochettino’s Premier League-winning Tottenham side, Eric Dier will be a key part of England in 2022.”

Ah. Spurs were at their peak in 2017, so it wasn’t entirely outlandish to suggest they’d win the title. But Dier has long since become a figure of ridicule, from climbing into the stands to confront a fan to his heavily criticised performances in a declining Tottenham team.

We’ll always have Colombia and that tackle on Sergio Ramos though.

Nathaniel Chalobah

Another that spent last season in the Championship, Chalobah made 40 appearances as Watford bounced back at the first attempt.

The former Chelsea midfielder played for 6 minutes and 54 seconds in injury time of that famous win in Spain back in 2018, but that’s all he’s mustered.

It’s unlikely that Chalobah will add to his single cap, but we suppose stranger things have happened. This time last year, Phillips was yet to play to make his Premier League and England debuts.

Dele Alli

talkSPORT predicted that Alli would be “one of the world’s best number 10s” by 2022 and the creative fulcrum of the England side in Qatar.

The reality is much sadder. The Tottenham man has slipped away from contention as injuries and a startling deterioration in from have left the midfielder out in the cold. He last played for his country in 2019.

And with talents such as Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount filling the mantle of creative responsibility, Alli faces a difficult task regaining his place.

A return to his best at Tottenham should probably be his first priority.

Marcus Rashford

Rashford is listed as a striker here, with talkSPORT warning of competition from Dominic Calvert-Lewin (fair enough) and Dominic Solanke (ha).

He’s not the sure starter described here, but the Manchester United man has blossomed into a fine attacking player and national icon for his work in providing children with free school meals.

Despite missing his penalty against Italy, Rashford will no doubt be part of England’s 23 that head to Qatar.

Harry Kane

Will probably scrape in.

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