Gareth Southgate is hoping some of his most experienced and trusted England players improve on their form or in some cases reclaim their starting positions for their clubs before he names his World Cup squad.
Worryingly for the England manager, some of his MVPs from last summer’s run to the final are in a difficult position as the tournament in Qatar draws nearer.
There are many question marks, including the bulk of those who started the European Championship final against Italy last July: Jordan Pickford is currently injured, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw were dropped by Erik ten Hag, John Stones has drifted in and out of that Manchester City team Kalvin Phillips is on the verge of shoulder surgery and Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling play in a struggling Chelsea side.
Southgate conceded the situation was “not ideal” as he explained his selection for England’s Nations League games against Italy and Germany in September, games that will double as warm-ups for the World Cup.
“This is a bigger squad than normal and part of the reason is that we are very close to a World Cup and we feel that although our results were disappointing over the summer we have played for a long time based on form and ability have chosen,” he reasoned.
“Obviously we have a number of players including Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips who don’t play many minutes with their club. It’s not ideal, but we believe they were and can be important players for us. It’s not a perfect situation, but there’s still a lot of football to be played before Qatar.”
Here’s the key information on Southgate’s squad announcement and which players could make the last 26.
When will England’s World Cup squad be announced?
Southgate will name their provisional World Cup squad on Wednesday October 19, 33 days before England’s first group game against Iran.
All 32 football associations then have to submit their final squads to Fifa by Sunday 13 November, a week before the opening game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.
How many players can England pick?
As at last summer’s European Championship, managers are allowed to select a squad of 26 players for the finals, compared to 23 at the last World Cup in Russia.
Before the final selection, managers can nominate 55 players in their provisional squads or, to use Fifa jargon, “release lists”. If a player gets injured in the Final 26, they can be replaced with someone on the release list.
As in most domestic leagues, managers can add up to five substitutes per game, which is partly the reason for the squad increase.
Who will England vote for?
The time of Jordan PickfordSouthgate’s hamstring injury will have worried Southgate as the Everton keeper was in the best form of his career in 2022. Pickford missed Nations League games in September but is expected to be fit for the finals. Newcastles Nick Pope seems to have cemented his place as Pickford’s understudy after excelling at his new club.
Southgate is well stocked with right-backs (although Trent Alexander Arnold fights for form) with Kyle Walker, ReeceJames and Kieran Trippier Everyone started the season strong. Otherwise, the defensive is a big problem for the England boss. From Southgate’s core defense options, perhaps John Steine‘ Position is secure considering he has played for Manchester City on a semi-regular basis. The same cannot be said of his long-time centre-back partner Harry Maguire.
- Jordan Pickford
- Nick Pope
- Kyle Walker
- Kieran Trippier
- John Steine
- Jordan Henderson
- Declan Rice
- mason mountain
- Jude Bellingham
- Raham Sterling
- Jack Grealish
- Bukayo Saka
- Phil Foden
- Harry Kane
There’s an equally shallow pool in central midfield, although there are at least a few players in form in that area of the pitch, most notably Borussia Dortmund’s wonder boy Jude Bellingham. west hams Declan Rice is one of the first names on the team sheet as it is mason mountain despite a stuttering start to the campaign. Jordan Henderson wasn’t at his best, but his experience and leadership skills are invaluable.
captain Harry Kane and Raham Sterling are certainties for the last 26 given their consistency for England during the Southgate years. They will likely join the attack Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish.
- Aaron Ramsdale
- Dean Henderson
- Luke Shaw
- Ben Chilwell
- Erich Dier
- Harry Maguire
- Conor Coady
- Fikayo Tomori
- Ben White
- Tyrone Mings
- Marc Guehi
- James Ward-Prowse
- Calvin Phillips
- Tammy Abraham
- Jarrod Bowen
- Ivan Toney
- Marcus Rasford
Aaron Ramsdales form for Arsenal last season and hints a little that he is leading the race to claim the third-choice goalkeeping spot ahead of him Nottingham Forestis Dean Henderson. However, the Manchester United loanee has fared well and certainly isn’t hurting his chances of landing.
Both Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw were included in Southgate’s youngest squad despite not appearing too often for their club sides. Of the two, Chilwell has made more compelling arguments to keep his spot. As for central defence, take your pick Maguire, Erich Dier, Conor Coady, Fikayo Tomori, Ben White, Marc Guehi and Tyrone Mings. It’s likely three, if not four, of these will be chosen, but it’s a challenge to say with any certainty which it will be.
further ahead, Calvin Phillips’ Shoulder injuries and missing appearances for Manchester City have put his place in jeopardy which could open the door for him James Ward-Prowsealso known as the 27th man at the Euro. Tammy Abraham, Ivan Toney and Marcus Rasford are all fighting for the backup forward positions while Jarrod Bowen needs to find his best form sharper again to stay in the squad.
The wild cards
- james justin
- Tyrick Mitchell
- Ryan Sessegnon
- Kyle Walker-Peters
- Joe Gomez
- Conor Gallagher
- Emile Smith Rowe
- Jess Lingard
- Harvey Elliott
- Jacob Ramsey
- Jadon Sancho
- Marcus Edwards
- Anthony Gordon
- Ollie Watkins
And now for the wildcards. There is usually at least one in an England tournament squad, from Michael Owen at France ’98 to Theo Walcott in 2006 and Ruben Loftus-Cheek four years ago. Considering Manchester United paid £73m to buy him, Jadon Sancho would not normally pass as a wildcard selection but having not played for England since September 2021 he fits the bill.
JamesMadison was arguably England’s top attacking midfielder in 2022 but barring an injury crisis, he’s unlikely to get the call. Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott may have more chances if he can keep his starting place at Liverpool Conor Gallagher is probably just a few good performances away from racing again.
Ryan Sessegnon is yet to be crowned at the senior level, but if Chilwell and Shaw continue to be overlooked by their club managers, he could just creep in. Meanwhile, for the ultimate wildcard look no further than Sporting Lisbon’s Livewire Marcus Edwards, who has been in brilliant form in the Champions League this season. Just 23 years old, Edwards was a regular in England’s youth teams and would bring an element of unpredictability to the squad if selected.