Harry Maguire will start England’s World Cup opener in a back four against Iran with Gareth Southgate set to play 4-3-3.
Southgate’s change of formation means there is room for an additional midfielder in the starting XI, with Jude Bellingham likely to make his first World Cup start.
Reports elsewhere suggest Bukayo Saka will be given the nod ahead of Phil Foden on the right wing.
Maguire’s inclusion is controversial given he has made just one Premier League start since September, but the Manchester United defender has been an integral part of England’s last two major tournaments.
The 29-year-old played a key role in the 2018 Three Lions World Cup semi-final and was later named in the team of the tournament as England finished runners-up at Euro 2020.
But Bellingham’s departure is less controversial with the 19-year-old enjoying a stellar season at Borussia Dortmund with nine goals in 22 appearances in all competitions this campaign.
Maddison and Walker out of game against Iran
James Maddison and Kyle Walker will miss England’s opener at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.
Walker is still recovering from groin surgery, while Maddison has yet to train since arriving in Qatar after suffering a knee problem.
“Kyle Walker is a bit short for this game but is progressing very well. We’re ahead of what we thought he might be at this stage,” Southgate said at his press conference on Sunday.
“James hasn’t been able to train since we arrived so he won’t be able to play tomorrow.”
Southgate continued: “Our challenge is to provide our supporters with a memorable tournament. We have taken them on fantastic journeys in our lives to tournaments.
“Our country is also going through a difficult period – not the same as some other countries in the world.
“But we are in an economic recession and life has been difficult for many of our people, so we want them to enjoy their football and take a trip with our team that brings real happiness.”
England to kneel ahead of Iran opener
England will take a knee ahead of their World Cup opener against Iran, Southgate has confirmed.
England made the gesture against racism and inequality in 33 consecutive matches when football returned following the Covid-19 shutdown.
England haven’t taken a knee in the September fixtures, but they will make the gesture in Monday’s Group B opener and beyond at the World Cup.
“We discussed taking the knee,” Southgate said. “We think we should. It’s what we stand for as a team and have been doing for a long time.
“Of course we understand in the Premier League that clubs have decided to only do it for certain games, the big occasions, we think that’s the biggest.
“We think it’s a strong statement to go around the world for young people in particular to see that inclusivity is very important.”
Premier League captains decided before the start of this season to use specific times to take a knee rather than making the gesture every game.
The teams agreed to perform the act before the first round, dedicated “No place for racism” matches in October and March, Boxing Day and the final round, as well as the FA Cup and Carabao Cup finals.