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Gray believes West Ham star will be perfect plan B for England in Russia

England secured a place at next year’s World Cup during weekend’s international break, but fears remains over how the Three Lions will fare at Russia following recent disappointments at major tournaments.

Despite finishing top of UEFA Group F, England’s narrow 1-nil wins in their last 2 games against Slovenia and Lithuania suggest they would struggle against the world best teams.

Manager Gareth Southgate must get his selection process right for the Three Lions to impress at Russia, and former Sunderland man Michael Gray believes West Ham striker Andy Carroll must be included in the World Cup squad.

The talkSPORT pundit was following the Lithuania game and tweeted thus after making a keen observation as England struggled to find the back of net from open play: “Might think I’m being sarcastic here but this game is ready made for Andy Carroll.. he has to be included in the WC squad. Plan B”

Gray is amongst a handful of football experts calling for Carroll’s inclusion, but the frequent injury woes of the Hammers striker remain a cause for concern.

Nevertheless, the 28-year-old started 15 league games last term, scoring 7 goals, and already has started 4 times this term.

Should Carroll manage to stay fit all-campaign and hit double figures in goals, though, Southgate might be left without a choice than to include him in his World Cup plans.