Four Everton players make World Cup provisional squads

PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03: Gylfi Sigurdsson of Iceland looks on during the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland at Stade de France on July 3, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JULY 03: Gylfi Sigurdsson of Iceland looks on during the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter final match between France and Iceland at Stade de France on July 3, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images) /

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford is amongst the goalkeepers selected for England. Idrissa Gana Gueye and Ramiro Funes Mori turn out for Senegal and Argentina respectively. Gylfi Sigurdsson will be a key performer for Iceland.

Four Everton players have been selected in their countries’ provisional World Cup 2018 squads.

Despite a subpar domestic season, Jordan Pickford, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Ramiro Funes Mori will link up with their respective international sides, with the hopes of confirming their places in Russia as soon as possible.

On the face of it, only four players is disappointing, but, the decline of Everton’s veterans, and the failure of many notable international squads to make it past the World Cup qualifiers has severely depleted the Everton contingent.

In 2014, six Toffees were selected to go to Brazil. Only one of them, Romelu Lukaku, is likely to play in this year’s tournament.

What can we expect from Everton’s players in Russia?

Despite being small in number, it is very possible that most of these Everton players will have important roles in their respective teams’ World cup campaigns.

Iceland, who surprised everyone with a strong run to the quarter finals of the 2016 European Championships, rely on Gylfi Sigurdsson to dictate play and provide a threat from set-pieces.

It is likely that Iceland will have a defence-first approach in Russia. This however, will make Sigurdsson’s potency at dead balls an absolutely critical offensive resource for the North Europeans.

Likewise, Gueye should start in an extremely unbalanced Senegal team. The Lions are patchy in defence, and overloaded with attacking players. If Senegal prioritise attack, Gueye’s ability as a water-carrier in midfield will make him a key cog in manager, Aliou Cisse’s, gameplan.

Perhaps the most exciting inclusion however is Jordan Pickford. After a stellar season at Goodison, Pickford deserves an England berth, and should start over Jack Butland.

As reported in The Sun, Pickford won practically every prize going at the Everton end of season awards, and is arguably the Blues’ best player. Let’s hope he can transfer this form to International play.

Unlike his peers, Ramiro Funes Mori does not have a starting place guaranteed. The Argentinian defence have a lot of players with a similar skillset, and Funes Mori’s lack of game-time this season will damage his chances. He could however be called on from the bench.

Everton alumni to watch

For more nostalgic Everton fans, there will be a lot to look forward to in Russia. Most notably, former Everton manager Roberto Martinez heads up the Belgium team.

Despite his poor end with the Blues, Martinez is still playing a somewhat ponderous passing game. This however is well suited to the Red Devils, as players such as Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are more than able to unpick the most robust of International defences.

In terms of playing alumni, it’s hard not to get excited about Tim Cahill’s fourth World Cup berth. Cahill is something of a legend in Australia, and is the nation’s top scorer in the international finals.

If he scores once in this tournament, he will finish his career with an enviable six World Cup goals. In a recent article, I noted how Cahill had returned to his first English club, Millwall, in January. Let’s hope that he can continue to roll back the years this summer too.

Apart from Cahill and Martinez, there will be a good number of familiar faces in Russia. As mentioned above, Romelu Lukaku should play for Belgium. John Stones will play for England, and Bryan Oviedo may see game-time with Costa Rica.

The Verdict

There’s more than enough for Everton fans to get excited about in Russia.

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A good number of Evertonians, current and former will play big roles at the tournament, demonstrating the calibre of player development on Merseyside.

On a pessimistic note, it’s very likely that more Everton players could have made it to Russia if the Blues had enjoyed a better season, both in terms of management and results.

With more attacking opportunities, Theo Walcott could have made a case for England.

Prior to his poor debut campaign on Merseyside, some may have seen Michael Keane as a possibility for the Three Lions as well.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Oumar Niasse too. Despite a strong year, he failed to make the Senegal squad. More game-time could have improved his chances.

Next: Which Everton players should stay and go?

Still, the World Cup is largely inconsequential for the Blues. It will hopefully provide a great deal of exciting football, and a good distraction for the fans whilst the new regime beds in.