Peter Crouch's guide to England's World Cup squad gunning for glory in Russia this summer
- Gareth Southgate has selected a bold and vibrant squad for the World Cup
- Harry Kane is a world class player and will be buoyed by his new Tottenham deal
- Harry Maguire is right up there with the best in the Premier League now
By Peter Crouch for the Daily Mail
Published: 17:30 EDT, 13 June 2018 | Updated: 20:03 EDT, 13 June 2018
The World Cup begins on Thursday and each manager has entrusted their players with the responsibility of bringing the World Cup home.
England manager Gareth Southgate has opted for a young, vibrant squad - as their portrait images below, released on Wednesday night, show - with some bold selections.
Sportsmail's PETER CROUCH runs the rule over Southgate's 23-man squad bidding for glory this summer.
Gareth Southgate has picked a bold and vibrant side to take to the World Cup in Russia
Age: 24 Caps: 3
The way he played in the first game of this season has stuck in my mind. That was his debut for Everton after his £30million move from Sunderland but he was outstanding.
He's brilliant with the ball at his feet, too, and is every inch the modern goalkeeper who can spray passes around. Gareth Southgate wants the team to play out from the back and that will hold no fears for him.
Age: 25 Caps: 8
If my Stoke team-mate isn't No 1 in Russia, there will come a day when he holds that position. Injuries have cost him but he has a good head on his shoulders and is a top goalkeeper. He'll never let anyone down.
Age: 26 Caps: 1
People will ask what benefit Burnley's No 1 will get going to the World Cup as No 3 keeper for England if he is not going to play but let me put like this: I'd go as No 3 'keeper! I'd go to as the kit man if they gave me the chance! What a brilliant experience to cap an excellent individual season.
Age: 28 Caps: 35 Goals: 0
Played with him at Tottenham. What an athlete! When I first saw him play, I didn't think it would be possible to sustain those runs up and down for 90 minutes but he's different class. Taken his game up another level at Manchester City. He's our best right back but he has the ability and intelligence to play on the right side of a back three.
Age: 27 Caps: 7 Goals: 0
Every time I watch him play, I think to myself how good it would be to have him on my side. The first-time balls he puts in from the right are a striker's dream, you would just love to be on the end of those inch-perfect crosses. Another one whose form has gone up a notch this season.
Kyle Walker (left) and Kieran Trippier are set to form the right-hand side of England's defence
Age: 19 Caps: 1 Goals: 0
I mentioned him a few times in my column during Liverpool's run to the Champions League final. He keeps on standing out and you saw another example in that game against Real Madrid when his first touch was to cushion a ball out of the sky and lay it off. Nothing bothers him. If the 19-year-old is called upon, he will be ready.
Age: 24 Caps: 26 Goals: 0
You couldn't say last season was ideal. He had an injury then didn't get the starts he would have liked but there is no doubting his quality and Gareth Southgate knows him inside out. I'll be surprised if he doesn't start.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (left) and John Stones are two young stars set for long England futures
Age: 32 Caps: 60 Goals: 5
I've always had trouble playing against him, right back to the days when he was at Bolton. He's stepped forward and replaced John Terry at Chelsea and you'll see him put his body on the line and make a block in an important game that is as good as a goal.
Age: 25 Caps: 5 Goals: 0
It now feels like he is getting more appreciation for what a good footballer he is. He is a proper defender but he's got quality on the ball and I can't forget when Stoke played at Hull the season before last when he did a Cruyff-turn on the edge of his penalty area and then hit a 60-yard inch-perfect pass.
Harry is right up there with the best in the Premier League now and deserves his place in the squad.
Age: 26 Caps: 25 Goals: 0
When Sir Alex Ferguson signed him for Manchester United, he was given a huge build up. It's been difficult for him to reach those levels but he's come on each season. He'll be valuable as he can play different positions.
Age: 32 Caps: 34 Goals: 7
He was my pick for left back in the PFA Team of the Year. His set pieces are always a threat, he is solid and you don't see many wingers give him the run around. For an attacking midfielder, his transition to defence has been seamless.
Age: 27 Caps: 18 Goals: 0
The one natural left-back in the squad, he'd probably have been a certainty to start England's opening game against Tunisia were it not for injuries.
We go back a long way and I remember coming on as a substitute when he scored that screamer against Arsenal in 2010. He has my utmost admiration for coming out and talking so candidly about some of the personal issues he has endured.
Ashley Young (left) and Danny Rose are two different left backs but quality options nonetheless
Age: 24 Caps: 26 Goals: 3
He'll do a crucial job holding things together and keeping play ticking over in midfield. I've met him a few times.
He seems a good, level-headed lad, very down to earth and I don't think anything flusters him. If we end up in a game that goes to penalties, I could see him striding forward and putting his effort away without any problem.
Age: 27 Caps: 39 Goals: 0
There has been a lot of criticism aimed at the Liverpool midfielder down the years but he's turned people around this season. He will never hide and I can see why he was such a strong contender to be named captain.
Eric Dier (left) and Jordan Henderson will provide England with a defensive midfield base
Age: 22 Caps: 25 Goals: 2
Will he start? A year ago, you would have said he was a shoo-in but now it seems that Raheem Sterling has jumped ahead of him. If it was down to me, I'd find a place for both of them in the team.
He's got such wonderful ability and he strikes me as one of those players who has the temperament, character and talent to score a big goal in a big game.
Age: 25 Caps: 12 Goals: 1
He never fails to impress me. He's got so much pace and that terrifies opponents. I played in England teams that had midfielders with great technical ability but this squad has a different dimension with its speed. I like the fact he is a home-grown Manchester United player: we need these characters.
Dele Alli (left) and Jesse Lingard's technical and physical qualities are a major plus to England
Age: 28 Caps: 11 Goals: 0
Very similar to Ashley Young in how he has reinvented himself as a full back. When we played Manchester City, I remember looking at him and thinking how comfortable he looked. You need versatility in a squad and he will be able to slot back into midfield with ease.
Age: 22 Caps: 4 Goals: 0
The future of English football. He took my breath away when Crystal Palace played Stoke with his speed and power, covering 10 yards in the blink of an eye. He is so naturally gifted and possesses tremendous skill.
Fabian Delph (left) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will hope to make a mark at their first World Cup
Age: 24 Caps: 24 Goals: 13
Our one genuine world class player will be on a high after signing his bumper new deal at Tottenham. You know he is going to score on the biggest stage if he gets a chance.
Give Harry an inch and he will punish you, nothing flusters him and, if we go deep into the competition, I can see him winning the Golden Boot.
He'll thrive with the captaincy and I was delighted he received the honour - he's come a long way since we first trained together at Spurs.
My only slight concern is whether the impact of a long season will take a toll. He puts so much into every game and training session.
Age: 23 Caps: 38 Goals: 2
I had no interest in the story about his tattoo, even if it does look like me doing 'The Robot'! Turning up late for duty wasn't a great idea though and if I'd been in the squad with him, I'd have probably had a word.
But that issue is over so let's concentrate on what he can do on the pitch. He's a matchwinner and I love his desire to get into the area. He's got it in his locker to run teams ragged.
Harry Kane (left) and Raheem Sterling could dovetail beautifully in attack for England in Russia
Age: 31 Caps: 22 Goals: 7
God forbid anything happens to Harry but, if it does, we have a ready-made replacement. He got 23 goals for Leicester last season and I love the aggressive way he goes about unsettling defenders. He'll have an impact somewhere.
Age: 20 Caps: 19 Goals: 3
We can't forget he's only 20. He was playing up front for Manchester United at 18 so what he's achieved so far isn't really normal.
Jack Butland always comes back to Stoke after international games raving about the quality of his finishing. He's had a hard season and I just hope his confidence hasn't been dented. He is such an exciting player - the type who will get you out of your seat.
Age: 27 Caps: 39 Goals: 16
You forget just how good he had been for England before he suffered a long-term injury. Some are more consistent for their country than club and Danny is one.
He's a very good international player and has scored more goals for England than any other player in the squad. He could be crucial.