Choice between Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland will be tough for Gareth Southgate, says David Seaman

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Jordan Pickford is the favourite to earn the No1 spot for England.

Former England goalkeeper David Seaman admits he does not know who he would pick in goal for England at the World Cup.

The choice between Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland is one of Gareth Southgate‘s biggest dilemmas ahead of the tournament in Russia.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford has been handed the number one shirt and played in Saturday’s friendly against Nigeria while Butland enjoyed a trouble-free outing in Thursday’s win over Costa Rica.

Seaman, who went to three World Cups with England, says there is little to choose between the two ahead of the opening Group G game with Tunisia.

He told Press Association Sport: “He (Southgate) has got a big decision, whether he goes with Jack or Jordan. “They are both young goalkeepers, but they need to go out there and express themselves and enjoy it.

“They have not got the experience but they are in the World Cup, they have got the talent, they have to go out and show it and step up.

Jack Butland

“I don’t know who I would pick. That is Gareth’s decision, they are both similar standards and what will make Gareth’s mind up is training.

“They see each other in training, Gareth will be watching and then make his decision.

“If I look at it, it looks like Jordan is going to get it because he is always in there first. We will see what happens.”

Southgate’s decision not to take Joe Hart in his 23-man squad was one of the headlines when it was announced in May.

With two goalkeepers who have less than 20 caps between them vying for the gloves, Seaman – part of the England team taking on the Rest of the World at Soccer Aid 2018 this weekend – says he would have included Hart to add some experience.

“I would have taken him,” he added. “He has got a lot to pass on. Whether Joe would have been happy being third choice, I don’t know, we don’t know what was said. But I would have had him involved.

“I can understand the other side of it as well. Do the others want him around? I don’t know, but I would have taken him.”

Hart

Southgate has won praise for the way he has taken to the job following Sam Allardyce’s sacking and Seaman, who played with the former defender at four tournaments for the Three Lions, is also impressed.

“He is doing a great job,” the former Arsenal goalkeeper added.

“I was happy when he was appointed, I knew the experience he had with the players he is now bringing through.

“For me it was a great appointment. I played with him before and I know what type of person he is, he’s a strong man and a good guy.”

Soccer Aid for Unicef will be broadcast on ITV from 6.30pm on Sunday 10 June and tickets are still available from www.manutd.com/socceraid

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Zinedine Zidane headlines all-time World Cup dream team

Alex Rea 10/06/2018
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Endless iterations can be constructed and no matter the variation, debate would be intense.

There tends to be a misty-eyed look into past tournaments which does mean modern stars are overlooked, so finding the right balance is tricky, especially given the game’s evolution adds another layer of difficulty.

Here, though, is our all-time World Cup XI and bench.

WC BEST IN BUSINESS-NEW-1

DREAM TEAM: 4-3-3

GK Lev Yashin (Soviet Union)

First true sweeper keeper, essentially invented modern goalkeeping and was central to the Soviet Union’s fourth-place finish in 1966.

RB Cafu (Brazil)

Most complete full-back of his time and remains the only player to have featured in three World Cup finals – winning two in 1994 and 2002.

CB Bobby Moore (England)

Captain of England’s famed 1966 World-Cup winning side and is widely regarded as one of the best defenders of all time.

CB Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)

Calm and cerebral, ‘Der Kaiser’ captained West Germany to triumph at the 1974 World Cup and repeated the feat as manager in 1990.

LB Paolo Maldini (Italy)

He appeared in four editions with Italy and although he never won, reached the final in 1994. A world-class talent across two decades.

CM Andres Iniesta (Spain)

Take your pick from the twin Spanish orchestras of Xavi and Iniesta, ‘Don Andres’ edging it for his winner at the 2010 tournament.

CM Lothar Matthaus (Germany) 

Never has a nickname been more appropriate – Der Panzer. Appeared at five different World Cups and is the ultimate complete midfielder.

CM Zinedine Zidane (France)

A once-in-a-generation talent, Zizou is France’s finest export and a national hero. He won the 1998 edition with two goals in the final.

FW Pele (Brazil)

No Brazilian has scored more and no other player has won more than his three World Cups. The game’s greatest-ever goalscorer.

ST Ronaldo (Brazil)

At his peak, the most frightening forward on the planet. Sensational in 1998 and irrepressible in 2002 despite his knee injuries.

FW Diego Maradona (Argentina)

“El Pibe de Oro” – The Golden Boy. Iconic performance against England in 1986 and single-handedly guided Argentina to success that year.

BENCH

Dino Zoff (Italy), Miroslav Klose (Germany), Daniel Passarella (Argentina), Garrincha (Brazil), Gerd Muller (Germany), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Bobby Charlton (England)

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Panama World Cup 2018 squad and team guide as Gary Stempel's life work is realised

Chris Bailey 10/06/2018
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According to a 2015 census the average age of the population in Panama is 28.4 years. The Panamanian team that emerged from the final phase of the qualifying rounds, by football standards, rounded out as a positively ancient 29.4.

As far as football is concerned, Panama is clearly no country for young men. It is fitting though that some of the very last players of a golden generation that

finished Gold Cup runners-up in 2013 have managed to clinch one last, unlikely hurrah in Russia.

This is the first time that the country, home to just four million people, have qualified for the grandest stage. And what a journey the last 40 years have been.

Panama’s debut World Cup qualifier came in 1976 and even then, football in the country was so disjointed that professionalism arrived 12 years later.

There was such disarray in the early days that proper pitches, boots and even footballs were in extremely short supply.

In the late 1990s everything finally came together – through the help of an Englishman. Gary Stempel, who was born in Panama City, returned to the land of his birth and helped transform the baseball-mad country into a proper football outpost.

He took charge of the country’s youth teams – essentially impoverished kids found on the street – and built from the ground up, leading a side to the Under-20 World Cup in 2003.

More development has followed but the youngsters of the past are now veterans of the present without a wealth of talent to replace them.

World Cup fever, though, is certainly one way to kick-start the production line after Panama made it through a CONCACAF qualifying group that stretched the limits of belief.

Big-hitting USA somehow lost to dead-last Trinidad & Tobago in the final round of games. Panama consequently sneaked into the third automatic qualifying spot thanks to long-time captain and proverbial poet Roman Torres, who scored the winner against Costa Rica in the 88th minute.

Belgium, England and Tunisia may view Panama as Group G’s cannon fodder this summer. But if anything can return life to old legs, it is this one last dance.

KEY PLAYER

Gabriel Torres

Switzerland v Panama - International Friendly

While Panama keep it tight at the back, it will be up to Torres to chase after every loose ball and lost cause. The 29-year-old had a very productive 2017, scoring five goals including the equaliser in that historic qualification match against Costa Rica.

COACH

Hernan Dario Gomez

Switzerland v Panama - International Friendly

Luckily Panama have a coach who has been there and done it. Gomez is the only person, alongside the late Henri Michel, to have guided at least three different teams to the World Cup – Colombia in 1998 and Uruguay in 2002 before his finest feat with the Central American minnows.

CAPTAIN

Roman Torres

OSLO, NORWAY - JUNE 06: Roman Torres of Panama during International Friendly between Norway v Panama at Ullevaal Stadion on June 6, 2018 in Oslo, Norway. (Photo by Trond Tandberg/Getty Images)

A sprightly 32 compared to the rest of his battle-hardened team-mates, the skipper quite literally rose to the occasion when he smashed Panama into the World Cup. La Mareja Roja’s (The Red Tide) only hope is to constrict their opponents – the leadership of their Seattle Sounders man will be crucial.

YOUNG STAR

Michael Murillo

Panama's player Michael Murillo (C) vies for the ball with Randall Azofeifa of Costa Rica during the Central American Football Union (UNCAF) tournament at Rommel Fernandez stadium in Panama City on January 22, 2017. / AFP / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)

Not much to choose from here but Murillo deserves some attention. A tall and hardy right-back, the 22-year-old has impressed for New York Red Bulls in the MLS and set up two goals in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final victory over Club Tijuana back in March.

KEY STATS AND FACTS

– This is Panama’s first-ever World Cup,

– Panama have six active players who have reached 100 caps.

– The nation’s lowest-ever FIFA ranking is 150th, in August 1995.

FIFA Rating

69 DEF 69 MID 68 ATT

World Cups competed at

1 (2018)

World Cup record

N/A

Best finish

N/A

Qualification record

P16, W6, D5, L5

World ranking

55

SQUAD

Wales vs Panama - International Friendly

Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon (Chorrillo), Jaime Penedo (Dinamo Bucharest), Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco).

Defenders: Felipe Baloy (Municipal CSD), Harold Cummings (San Jose Earthquakes), Erick Davis (Dunajska Streda), Fidel Escobar (San Miguelito), Michael Murillo (New York Red Bulls), Adolfo Machado (Houston Dynamo), Luis Ovalle (Olimpia), Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders).

Midfielders: Jose Luis Rodriguez (Gent), Yoel Barcenas (Cafetaleros de Tapachula), Armando Cooper (Universidad de Chile), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), Gabriel Gomez (Bucaramanga), Valentin Pimentel (Plaza Amador), Alberto Quintero (Universitario).

Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo (Alajuelense), Ismael Diaz (Deportivo La Coruna), Blas Perez (Municipal), Luis Tejada (Sports Boys), Gabriel Torres (CD Huachipato).

VERDICT

The odds are stacked against Panama but if their veterans keep it compact and scrappy, there will always be a chance of the knockouts.

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