Who Will Make England’s 26-Man World Cup Squad?

Liam Bewsher

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Who Will Make England’s 26-Man World Cup Squad?

For the upcoming World Cup in Qatar, England will be allowed a 26-man squad, which in the grand scheme of things is three extra slots than usual, so here we take a look at which players could make it into Gareth Southgate’s side.

England

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Goalkeepers

The regular trio of goalkeepers is expected to stay the same, with Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope all looking likely to be selected for the tournament in Qatar bar any injuries.

Pickford was one of the players of the tournament at Euro 2020, conceding just twice at that tournament, whilst producing two fine penalty saves in the shootout against Italy. Meanwhile, Ramsdale was in goal during England’s recent 4-0 humiliation by Hungary but is expected to be in the squad due to having a good season at Arsenal.

Nick Pope’s move to Newcastle United from Burnley will have helped his chances due to still playing for a Premier League outfit, although he will have to be wary of not being dislodged at club level by Martin Dubravka.

Dean Henderson virtually spent a whole campaign on the bench with Manchester United last season, significantly damaging his chances, although with a rumoured loan move to Nottingham Forest in the pipeline, the 25-year-old may have one last shot of showcasing his abilities once again.

Meanwhile, Fraser Forster looks likely to miss out following a move to Tottenham Hotspur to become Hugo Lloris’ backup and Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart has not featured for the national side since 2017. Sam Johnstone could also stake a claim if he performs to a good standard for Crystal Palace.

Pickford, England

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Defenders

Right-Back

England have a plethora of options when it comes to right-back, with Southgate often opting to play the likes of Kieran Trippier at left-back. Reece James featured there against Hungary although he is far more suited at right-wing-back as he plays in this role for Chelsea, whilst Kyle Walker could be a useful option at right-centre-back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold will be somewhat bewildered as to how he has only featured for England 17 times since 2018, with some regarding him as the best right-back in the world. When playing for Liverpool, it would appear that the right-wing-back role would suit the 23-year-old well due to his impressive ball-playing and crossing attributes.

Walker Trippier

Centre-Back

England will first of all need to decide upon their system when choosing centre-back, in major tournaments, the Three Lions have often utilised a 5-2-3 formation.

John Stones seems to be the first name on the teamsheet as far as centre-backs are concerned, whilst many will be worried about Harry Maguire’s form heading into the World Cup following dismal displays for Manchester United in the Premier League last season.

Fikayo Tomori made 31 appearances for AC Milan as they claimed their first Scudetto since the 2010/11 season, with many calling for him to feature alongside Stones and Walker as one of the three centre-backs.

Tyrone Mings has made 17 caps for England since the start of 2019 and seems to be a favourite of Southgate’s due to him being left-footed, whist Conor Coady who is used to play in a 5-2-3 for Wolverhampton Wanderers has 10 caps for the Three Lions in the last two seasons and is regarded as a good player to have in the camp.

Everton’s Michael Keane will have to impress to stand any chance of getting back into the side, as will Goodison Park-bound James Tarkowski. Meanwhile, Joe Gomez only managed 327 minutes of Premier League football last season with Liverpool.

Perhaps Dan Burn of Newcastle could be an outsider for a call-up having impressed heavily since his move to St James’ Park in January. Palace’s Marc Guehi will also fancy his chances having played three times for England this year.

Stones, Maguire, England

Left-Back

After Euro 2020, it looked like Luke Shaw had England’s left-back position nailed down, as the United defender scored in the final and created three assists in six appearances. However, since then, like Maguire, his form at club level has significantly deteriorated, seeing him dropped for the likes of Alex Telles.

Shaw will have to start the season in a good fashion if he is to make it back into the England team.

Meanwhile, Ben Chilwell was in superb form for Chelsea last season at the time he suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament and will be desperate to stake a claim. If Southgate opts for Trippier in the squad, then there ultimately could be just one place in the squad for Shaw and Chilwell to contest over.

However, if these two are to fail to impress, perhaps Saka could be utilised there or even Leicester City’s James Justin could be called up if he stays injury-free.

Luke Shaw, England

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Midfield

Central Midfield

England’s central midfield options are very impressive at this moment in time, as the Three Lions also have a plethora of high-quality individuals here.

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips were both instrumental in England’s run to the final of Euro 2020 and the latter has since sealed a move to Manchester City from Leeds United. However, following the emergence of Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, Phillips will do well to retain his place in the starting XI, although will likely be in the squad itself.

On top of this, Conor Gallagher showed plenty of promise on loan at Palace last season as he scored eight and created three assists in 34 Premier League appearances, whilst James Ward-Prowse at Southampton fired in 10 goals and five assists in 36 top-flight matches. Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson has played just five times for England since Euro 2020.

Despite having a sensational season for Leicester that saw him make 30-goal contributions across all competitions, James Maddison is very much out of the fold having not been selected since November 2019.

Mason Mount will likely be selected despite only scoring four times in 31 international caps. The Chelsea midfielder scored 13 and created 16 assists in 53 appearances for the Blues last campaign. Arsenal's Emile Smith-Rowe could also be in contention too.

Kalvin Phillips, England

Wingers

Yet again, England has plenty of options on the wings, with Manchester City duo Phil Foden and Jack Grealish both likely to stand a good chance of being selected. Both started on the bench against Hungary and have the capability to play in a central position.

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka will be looking to be selected for back-to-back international tournaments, whilst Jarrod Bowen’s form at West Ham United has seen the 25-year-old earn a chance following a season that consisted of 31 goal contributions as the Hammers finished seventh and made it to the semi-finals of the Europa League.

Raheem Sterling starred in England’s Euro 2020 run, although it is yet to be known what club he will be playing for next season as he has been linked with a move to Chelsea. The 27-year-old scored three goals and created one assist as England reached the final of the Euros.

Two players that will be desperate to regain their places in the England squad is United duo Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho who like Shaw and Maguire, both suffered from United’s sudden drop-off in form. Sancho managed just eight-goal contributions, whilst Rashford started the season injured and only managed seven across the board.

Gareth Southgate was recently quoted as saying that Sancho and Rashford have “a lot to do” to get back into the squad.

Raheem Sterling, England

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Forwards

The obvious two choices for the striker position following the end of the 2021/22 season are Harry Kane who won the Golden Boot with England at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and is captain of the side, whilst the other would be AS Roma’s Tammy Abraham who managed 27 goals last season and started up-front in the Three Lions 0-0 draw with Italy in the Nations League.

Other options would likely be Dominic Calvert-Lewin who has been frequently chosen as a back-up for Kane, but, spent the majority of last season out injured, hence why the 25-year-old only managed five goals in 17 league appearances for Everton. The other option is Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa who scored 11 Premier League goals last season and has two in seven caps for the Three Lions.

Perhaps Rashford’s versatility and capability to play as a striker could also see him be given a chance to make England’s 26-man squad.

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