England manager Gareth Southgate has defended his largely young and inexperienced 2018 World Cup squad. Southgate has received criticism since announcing the 23-man squad for Russia 2018, with pundits saying he was taking a gamble during the world’s biggest tournament. The Three Lions manager said that what was being referred to as a gamble was instead being free of inhibitions.

Joe Hart still has a future on the national team

This group of players is the best and they will be very exciting to watch, now and in the future, Southgate said. The squad includes Liverpool teenage sensation Trent Alexander-Arnold.

31-year-old goalkeeper Joe Hart and midfielder Jack Wilshere were left out of the squad. Wilshere had a dip in form toward the end of the season, which led to him not making the cut.

Joe Hart, who was on loan at West Ham, conceded 39 goals in just 19 games. Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope and Jack Butland took up the goalkeeper slot on the national team. Hart could, however, get call-ups in the future if his form improves. He is still an important member of the national team, Southgate added. Liverpool striker Adam Lallana, who is recovering from an injury, is on the standby list.

The captain for the Three Lions World Cup team has not been named. Southgate said the team would discuss that during their meeting on Sunday.

Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane are among the players who have a shot at the captaincy -- according to the BBC.

Important to believe in the squad

Admitting that the Three Lions lacked the experience that some of the tournament’s favorites had, Southgate blamed the situation on the premier league, which he said did not have enough English players.

It is important to believe in the squad, he added. With 58 caps, Gary Cahill is the only player on the squad with more than 40 caps to his name. Southgate revealed that Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill did not initially answer his call because he was afraid he had not been picked for the World Cup.

England begin their World Cup campaign against Tunisia on June 18.

They will then face other Group G opponents Belgium and Panama. They have friendlies lined up against Nigeria and Costa Rica before departing for Russia on June 12.

The Three Lions will be looking to improve on their World Cup showing. They have not made it past the quarterfinals since finishing in fourth place in 1990. In the 2014 edition, they were knocked out in the group stages for the first time since 1958.