England boss Gareth Southgate made a surprise decision to bench Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell for the Three Lions opening game against Croatia.
Luke Shaw finished the past season in spectacular form and was expected to make the England team for the game against Croatia. However, Southgate went with right-back Kieran Trippier for the left-back role.
Chelsea left-back Ben Chilwell didn’t even make the squad for the game, and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has said that the duo can as well go home.
The former Arsenal defender hailed Southgate for following his guts but warned that he’d have faced lots of backlash if his gamble didn’t pay off.
“Fair play to Gareth as he is getting pelters if that does not come off and that is what I like about him,” Paul Merson told Sky Sports.
“It’s the confidence he has in his own ability to go: ‘You know what, I’m going with what I believe and I’m not going to listen to the public. It is my job and I have to do this my way.’
“If we lose on Sunday, then he is in major trouble, so that was a big gamble.
“If I’m Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell, though, I might as well go home now with Gareth having gone for a right-footed left-back in Kieran Trippier.
“I also thought playing a back four was a big gamble, but we can’t get carried away as Croatia were terrible and looked well past their sell-by date. In midfield, Kalvin Phillips’s performance shocked me if I’m being honest.”