Worst England World Cup squad prediction from 2013 and where players are now

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    England's starting XI against Iran for their World Cup opener might already be set in stone in Gareth Southgate's mind – but a prediction from 2013 could not be further off.

    The Independent attempted to name the first-team that would walk out at the 2022 World Cup nine years ago, with some awry choices. A lot can happen in that time period in football – as proven by some absolute throwback names that stand no chance of being named at all in the upcoming squad next month. TikTok user @jamie_fussall branded it the "worst XI" he's ever seen.

    According to them, it would not even be Southgate in the dugout but Gary Neville – whose only managerial stint saw him fail at Valencia two years after the prediction was even made. But where are the players now? And what even happened to them?

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    GK: Jack Butland

    At the time of the prediction, Butland had just broken onto the scene in the Championship with Birmingham before earning a move to Stoke. However, ill-fated loans at Barnsley, Leeds and Derby followed amid an injury nightmare for the former Three Lions stopper.

    The goalkeeper now finds himself third-choice at Crystal Palace behind Vicente Guaita and Sam Johnstone – though he still has nine caps to his name, the last coming in 2018.

    RB: Chris Smalling

    One of the better predictions perhaps, but only due to his recent form with AS Roma rather than Manchester United, where it might be fair to say Smalling was hardly a world-beater. However, naming the defender at right-back – a position he has played a handful of times – might leave people scratching their heads.

    However, Smalling's England career appears to be all but over after landing his last cap in 2017 – around the same time his form deserted him at Old Trafford. Though with a lack of top centre-back options, Southgate might be forced to reconsider.

    CB: Phil Jones

    The less said about this choice the better. Jones' career has turned out to be something of a tragedy with injuries affecting the defender. However, when he was fit, the United player hardly did enough to impress on a consistent basis.

    Remarkably, it was only four years ago in 2018 that Jones landed his last England cap – he even played twice at the Russia World Cup. Go on, check it, unbelievable isn't it?

    CB: Nathaniel Chalobah

    An ever-present in the Under-21 side, there was logic to picking Chalobah in this predicted XI, but his career has not panned out quite how he would have planned. Coming up through the Chelsea youth system was almost impossible during this period, while he also had bad luck with injuries, eventually leading to moves to Watford and now Fulham – where he now plays in midfield.

    The 27-year-old does have one England cap, though, but it is his brother Trevoh who has more of a chance of reaching Qatar this winter. The defender has been in fine form for the Blues over the past two years.

    LB: Luke Shaw

    Kudos to this prediction as it looks almost nailed on despite a topsy-turvy career for Shaw at United, even this season after battling new signing Tyrell Malacia for a starting spot under Erik ten Hag.

    But with Ben Chilwell still in iffy form and Kieran Trippier likely to be used at right-back, Shaw seems the obvious choice to step up. Southgate selected Shaw against Germany last month, with the former Southampton star sparking England's fightback from 2-0 down.

    CM: Ross Barkley

    Once upon a time, Barkley was regarded as one of England's top talents and had even been compared to Paul Gascoigne. But a meteoric rise came to an end after falling out of favour following a move to Chelsea.

    The midfielder now finds himself at OGC Nice along with a number of other Premier League flops such as Nicolas Pepe, Mario Lemina and Aaron Ramsey. He can probably forget about an England call-up anytime soon.

    CM: Jack Wilshere

    This wouldn't have been a bad shout had Wilshere actually been playing in 2022, but unfortunately he is now retired. Injuries have been cruel to the former midfielder, who is now a coach with the Arsenal Under-18s.

    However, if Wilshere and Barkley reached their potential it could have been a midfield duo of dreams. Here's hoping the same fate does not befall current pairing of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham.

    RM: Jordon Ibe

    It's hard to workout what the thinking was behind this one, with Ibe having made just one Premier League appearance for Liverpool at the time. It's even more mystifying when you consider that Raheem Sterling had just had his breakout season at Anfield.

    Nevertheless, it has been quite the downfall for Ibe – who has yet to play for new side Adanaspor in the Turkish second division. Don't wait up for that phone call, Jordon…

    LM: Wilfried Zaha

    While not an outrageous shout considering the Crystal Palace star is one of the better performers in the Premier League to this day, there is one small problem – Zaha now plays for the Ivory Coast.

    Despite making two appearances for the Three Lions, Zaha switched allegiances to the country of his birth in 2017 and has gone on to make 30 appearances for Ivory Coast.

    ST: Daniel Sturridge

    Considering that Sturridge is now 33, it might have been a stretch to believe that the forward would lead England to glory in the 2022 World Cup.

    As it happens, the former Liverpool star might be chilling on the other side of the world after just being released from Perth Glory. An injury-ravaged spell in Australia ended with just six appearances and no goals – Harry Kane can sleep easy knowing his England spot is safe.

    ST: Chuba Akpom

    Another equally baffling shout saw Akpom as Sturridge's partner up front – did we really have no one else at the time? Back then, the former Arsenal striker had not even scored a professional goal and things haven't improved greatly nearly 10 years down the line.

    Having brought his second spell in Greece with PAOK to an end at the close of last season, Akpom has started this campaign in fine form after netting four in eight Championship appearances. Maybe there is time for a call-up after all?

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    • England Football Team
    • World Cup
    • Manchester United FC
    • Arsenal FC
    • Liverpool FC
    • Gary Neville

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