With the business end of the season well and truly in full flow, some football supporters are beginning to turn their head towards this summers FIFA World Cup in Russia. There will not be many Championship players that will be heading to Russia this year, Ryan Sessegnon and Ruben Neves will both be contenders with England and Portugal respectively but other than that no many come to mind straight away.
I will take a look at some players who will most likely be involved in this year’s most anticipated event.
With the lack of English players in the Premiership, England boss Gareth Southgate must have looked at those plying their trade in the Championship. First of all, on loan from Premiership’s Manchester United, Sam Johnstone.
In my mind, Johnstone is the best goalkeeper in the division and is surely a better option than the out of form Joe Hart and Fraser Forster, right? One problem for Sam is that there are three better goalkeepers, currently in form playing in the Premier League. The number 1 spot will surely be a pick between Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland while Nick Pope will be hoping to upset the apple cart.
However, should there be an injury then Johnstone could have an outside chance?
The second Villa player who I believe has an outside chance of going to Russia is Jack Grealish. You can’t tell me that Jake Livermore and Ross Barkley deserve a place in the squad more than our very own Grealish. The 22-year-old has shown that he is able to draw fouls while creating plenty for those around him. On top of that, he is always capable of a strike like the one we witnessed against Cardiff.
Grealish has a very slim chance of going but should he be lucky enough to go to Russia then the experience would be priceless as the player (hopefully with Villa) looks to make the step up to the Premier League.
ON THEIR WAY
We also have a few players who are almost certain to head to Russia this summer.
First of all Birkir Bjarnason has had a fantastic second-half of the season for Aston Villa playing fantastically at the base of the midfield like a Blonde Luka Modric. Iceland will need all the help they can get to get further in the World Cup this year but the transformation of Bjarnason this season will help them majorly. Making 65 international caps, Bjarnason will be a vital cog in Iceland’s plucky squad which will no doubt bring along a few more surprises in Russia.
30-year-old Ahmed Elmohamady could bring some attention towards himself this Summer, hoping to bring Egypt to success. His immense partnership down the right-hand side with Robert Snodgrass for club football has been a big factor in Snoddy’s electric form this season in the Championship with them two knowing each other so well.
The same could be said with Elmo and Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah. Salah will no doubt be the one to watch in the Egyptian team but will have to have help from Elmohamady who will most likely start right-back for the Pharaohs. As good as Elmo is his defensive capabilities are not the best but he will certainly be at the top of his game for when the World Cup comes around.
Our third and final World Cup definite is Mile Jedinak. The Aussie beast has played his last couple Aston Villa games at centre-back replacing the injured John Terry in our wins over Cardiff City and Leeds United. He is on set-pieces for the Socceroos and we could actually score a couple at this year’s competition scoring a hat-trick for them a few months back, scoring more goals in one game for Australia than he has in almost 2 years at Villa Park. The Jedi is Australia’s biggest leader and voice in the squad and will be a determining factor in the final position of the national team.
There are a couple Welsh players in the Villa squad but sadly they have not qualified after getting to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. We will not see Snoddy or Hutts making an appearance in Russia with Scotland also not qualifying. Jonathan Kodjia and Ivory Coast have also not qualified, and the Irish lads are obviously not on the way to Russia this summer either.
Tell us your thoughts on the Villans going to Russia, I don’t think any of them will win it but being Villans will give it a good shot!