Hart faces heartbreak but Rashford, Sterling, Kane a fearsome England trio

With under three months to go before the World Cup, Gareth Southgate is trying to figure out his best England team.

Here's how we think England will line-up against Tunisia on June 18 ...

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford

If you cast your mind back to last summer, the prevailing wisdom was that Everton had "won" the transfer market. As it turned out, only Pickford represented much of an upgrade on what they already had, and while he hasn't been flawless in the intervening months, he's done enough to displace Joe Hart, who will be lucky to get a place on the plane given his lack of playing time for West Ham.

Pickford's distribution will arguably be the most important element of his game for England, as if nothing else they should have plenty of pace on the flanks. Pickford spraying the ball out wide to start counter-attacks could be England's biggest threat.

Defence: Harry Maguire, John Stones, Gary Cahill

It looks likely that Southgate will favour a 3-4-3 system; it's not ideal, for reasons that will become clear, but it is a system that suits a number of England's attacking players. However it does potentially mean playing central defenders in a formation they are not used to, but there is just about enough for him to work with.

Southgate is a fan of Maguire, and with reason, a defender able to bring the ball out from the back with purpose, which is a quality the England coach has placed plenty of emphasis on. Stones is still clearly the best English defender at that particular art, but they will need a little ballast in addition to the distribution. Cahill might be out of the Chelsea team and was missing from the current England squad, but he's the most experienced defender they have, and one with the most experience in a back three. Southgate can't afford to ignore that sort of know-how.

Midfield: Kyle Walker, Eric Dier, Jack Wilshere, Danny Rose

The wing-backs in this formation virtually pick themselves. Rose might not be an automatic choice for Tottenham but he is still the best bet on the left flank, while Walker has been playing as an auxiliary wing-back for Manchester City, even if they don't often play a three-man defence. These two will be relied upon for much of England's attacking, but the players between them bring a few more concerns.

Central midfield is clearly the shallowest part of the squad in terms of quality, and the list of names who could effectively perform in a two-man formation is quite dispiriting. Dier and Wilshere are not an ideal pairing, in that neither have the dynamism of, say, N'Golo Kante, but they do offer a reasonable combination of graft and craft. Should a three-man central midfield be called for then Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana might be better bets, but in a 3-4-3 this is probably the best England can do.

Attack: Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford

Probably the only area of the England team which features players who a) other countries would actively covet and b) have been in form for the bulk of this season. This is written assuming Kane shakes off the knee injury that ails him. If he isn't fit, the World Cup could be reduced to the most expensive and best guarded holiday the rest of the squad will over go on.

Still, Kane isn't England's only threat. Sterling and Rashford both have the ability to frighten the heck out of opposition defences with their pace and directness, and given that both those things will be coming from either side of Kane, you can see England causing a few problems to opposition defences. Whether they will cause enough problems ... well, that's another question.

The Bench

The good news for Southgate is that, assuming he does start with a 3-4-3, he has tactically flexible options on the bench. The most obvious for when a goal is required will be Jamie Vardy, in fine form and able to play either with a partner or on his own. Dele Alli isn't having his best season but has still been involved in 15 goals for Tottenham, while Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain represent options should a change in system is required. Jesse Lingard shouldn't be ignored either. For all his detractors he has a knack of finding crucial goals for Manchester United, so if he can translate that to England then he'll be a valuable option.