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Gary Lineker: England should 'write off' World Cup and call up young squad

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Southgate: England's World Cup squad my most difficult decision (3:18)

Gareth Southgate told ESPN that telling players they're not selected for the World Cup is one of the most difficult things he has had to do. (3:18)

Former England striker Gary Lineker believes the Three Lions "haven't realistically got a chance" to win the World Cup and should "write off" any hopes in favour of blooding some youngsters.

The likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson are all having fine seasons for their respective clubs but Lineker feels Gareth Southgate's side are still short of making a real challenge.

Southgate is set to name his 23-man squad on Wednesday and Lineker wants to see the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ryan Sessegnon make the cut with Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup in mind.

"If I was Gareth Southagte I would sell this on youngsters," he said at the BBC's launch of their coverage of this summer's tournament. "I would say this is an experience, take total pressure off them, say, 'It is all about experience, we are not going to do particularly well, we are not going to win this World Cup.'

"I think people will buy that because in four years' time we are going to be a serious force in world football, there's no doubt about that. We have got some great young players.

"Just write it off, we haven't realistically got a chance, you never know what might happen in tournament football, but we haven't currently enough world-class players. You need half of your team to be world-class to be favourites in a competition like this and we haven't got that at the moment, but we will have that in four years and six years.

"Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ryan Sessegnon, bring them in and give them that little bit of experience. [Southgate should] choose his squad, have back-up and let those players go on holiday and know whether they're in or they're out. It's better for everyone. It'll help them focus."

Lineker's thinking might actually line up with that of Southgate, who told ESPN FC that the continued development of his team is more important than reaching a certain round of the World Cup.

"Maybe there are other players a bit older playing in the league who might be better now or more experienced, but we don't think we could win a World Cup with them in future and would rather invest time and show belief in young players we think could be world-class," Southgate said.

Sources have said Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere and Gary Cahill will all be left out, leaving room for potential wild cards like 17-year-old Sessegnon, who has led Fulham to the Championship playoff final.

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand is an advocate of taking Liverpool's 19-year-old Alexander-Arnold instead.

"I'd take him, his Champions League form this year has been nothing short of breathtaking," he said. "To go in there, a pressure cooker, playing at Anfield, the expectation levels of their fans. We have been there and he took to it like a duck to water."