Following the somewhat surprising news that 31-year-old Wayne Rooney is set to hang up his England jersey for good, attention will now turn to who will follow in the Everton man’s footsteps and lead Gareth Southgate’s men into the World Cup next summer in Russia, should they qualify as they are on course to do.
The England manager will name his latest England squad on Thursday ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia next month.
We take a look at who Southgate will be considering as he ponders over the next permanent England captain.
1: Harry Kane
Tottenham striker Harry Kane is the firm favourite to take over the armband from the former Manchester United striker and speaking in June after captaining England to a 2-2 draw with rivals Scotland, the 24 year old said; via The Sun,
“I would love to be England captain. I don’t know what the gaffer’s feeling is but he gave me the armband and it was probably the most special moment of my career.”
Kane who’s father hails from Co. Galway, turned down the opportunity to play for the Republic of Ireland and made his England debut in 2015 against Lithuania where he found the net after just 80 seconds endearing himself to the Three Lions faithful.
Capped just 19 times, Kane has limited experience at International tournaments having only represented his country at Euro 2016. The striker is however vice captain at Tottenham and following Rooney’s retirement he will now be one of the first names on the team sheet.
2: Gary Cahill
Should Southgate be looking for a natural leader that has experience of winning trophies to lead his first assault in a major tournament with England, then the 46-year-old should look no further than Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.
Cahill has seven years more experience than Kane and has two Premier League titles and a Champions League title to his name. He also learned from one of the best in John Terry at Stamford Bridge and has taken over from the Chelsea man as captain of his club. Gareth Southgate may decide a fellow defender, capped 55 times for his country, is an ideal candidate to fill Rooney’s boots.
The 31-year-old former Bolton man was unlucky to miss Euro 2012. He was initially named in the squad but subsequently he was cruelly ruled out with a broken jaw. The defender did however represent England in the World Cup in 2014 and at Euro 2016 where he was vice captain to Wayne Rooney.
3: Jordan Henderson
A surprise choice as captain of Liverpool, Jordan Henderson too could be an option for Gareth Southgate in his search for a new leader.
While he will never come close to the ability of a Steven Gerrard or Paul Scholes in the England midfield he does posses the qualities needed in a leader on the pitch and his stint as Liverpool captain following the departure of Steven Gerrard has seen him grow as a footballer.
The 27-year-old, who has been capped 32 times, lacks the experience of Gary Cahill but with Liverpool now back in the Champions League he will have plenty of big game experience to offer Southgate.
Should Southgate desire a midfield general as captain he should look no further than Henderson.
4: Joe Hart
The 30-year-old goalkeeper is experiencing an unsettling spell at club level following Pep Guardiola’s decision that the he is no longer the right man to stand between the sticks for Manchester City. A spell in Italy last season with Torino was followed by a move to West Ham United, but crucially for Southgate, Hart has continued to play first team football.
Often the subject of criticism, Hart has represented England 71 times. The shot-stopper has the most tournament experience in the English squad, having been involved in two World Cups and two European Championships and remains one of Southgate’s most experienced men.
He will however be pushed all the way to keep his place in the England goal following the return to fitness of Jack Butland at Stoke City and the arrival of £30 million Jordan Pickford at Everton. Fraser Forster too continues to impress at Southampton. And only three keepers will go to Russia next summer.
5: Chris Smalling
The Manchester United defender is currently struggling to break into Jose Mourinho’s side at Manchester United but the 27-year-old did line up alongside Gary Cahill in England’s last International qualifier against Scotland.
Capped 31 times for his country the two-time Premier League winner has more experience on the International stage than favourite for the role Harry Kane, but his inability to nail down a place at Old Trafford could see the former Fulham man struggle to make the squad with club teammate Phil Jones continuing to keep him out of the United side. Jones may also push Smalling out of the England team if he continues to build on his impressive start to the season.
The defender has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford before next weeks deadline day. If he does move and secures regular first team football, his chances of landing this dream role will improve.
Damien McEvoy Pundit Arena