On Thursday, Gareth Southgate named his 26-man squad ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup. It has been a topic that has split opinion all across the country but it will hopefully be a team that can reach the latter stages of this competition. The squad consists of three goalkeepers, nine defenders, six midfielders and eight forwards which could still change if some of those players suffer injuries this weekend. At their last major tournament, the Three Lions reached the final of UEFA Euro 2020 but lost out on penalties to Italy on home soil. They will be hoping to go one step further in Qatar when they kick off their campaign against Iran on 21st November, before games against the USA and Wales.
Starting with the goalkeepers and the three that have been picked are Everton’s Jordan Pickford, Newcastle United’s Nick Pope and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale. The former is most likely to start in between the sticks during this tournament, however, Pickford has competition for his place with both Pope and Ramsdale impressing at their clubs.
All three are first-choice goalkeepers for their clubs but the Everton keeper has been trusted by Southgate and he is likely to line-up against Iran in the first group game. Ramsdale has been magnificent for Arsenal since he joined Mikel Arteta’s side last year and Pope has impressed at St. James’ Park since his move in the summer. Interestingly, Pickford and Pope have played in non-league football showing that there can be hidden talent in the lower leagues of English football.
Onto the defenders now and Southgate has, as expected, selected Harry Maguire despite a lack of game time at Manchester United. Conor Coady has settled in very well at Everton this season and he will be on the plane to Qatar where he will most likely feature in a back three. Trent Alexander-Arnold, like Maguire, has been criticised for his performances but he is one of the best attacking full backs in world football. Manchester City pairing John Stones and Kyle Walker are also in the squad as well as Luke Shaw of Manchester United who could start at left back at the tournament.
After superb displays at Arsenal this season, Ben White will be another defensive option for Southgate to pick from and his versatility will be key with the 25-year-old able to play at right back, centre back and defensive midfield. Eric Dier has started every Premier League game at Tottenham Hotspur this season and Kieran Trippier will be looking to continue his excellent performances at Newcastle United at the World Cup. The notable absentees from the defenders include Fikayo Tomori of AC Milan and Crystal Palace’s Marc Guéhi who will be disappointed that they will not making the trip to Qatar.
Now onto the midfielders and Mason Mount will be making his first appearance at a World Cup in Qatar after being called up. Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham could be England’s midfield partnership in this tournament and they have both been attracting interest from other clubs. Despite not playing a lot at Manchester City this season, Kalvin Phillips has been called up to the squad.
Jordan Henderson will also be on the plane after featuring in all but one of Liverpool’s Premier League fixtures this season. There was competition for places for the midfield slots and many have been surprised about the decision to choose Conor Gallagher over James Ward-Prowse. The Southampton captain is known for his set-pieces but Southgate has opted for Gallagher who will be going to his first ever major tournament.
Lastly, probably the most talked about position – the forwards. After many stellar performances at Leicester City, James Maddison has rightly been picked in the England squad. In his 12 Premier League appearances this season, the attacking midfielder has scored six goals and assisted four. One player who will be battling it out with Maddison for a place in the starting 11 will be Marcus Rashford who has improved under Erik ten Hag this season. Bukayo Saka shone at the Euros last year and he will be looking to carry that on in Qatar. Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling will be battling it out for the positions out wide and Harry Kane will be leading the line and will be looking to be keep hold of his golden boot from the last World Cup.
Jack Grealish has also been called up as an attacking option even though the former Aston Villa man has only scored once in eight Premier League appearances. The final spot was to be given to a striker who could support Kane and be an impact as a substitute – the main candidates were Callum Wilson, Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney. Southgate stated that Abraham was not called up due to his poor form at AS Roma while Toney was not included because of Wilson’s incredible form. The Newcastle United forward has netted six times in 11 Premier League outings and he has been causing defenders nightmares this season. He has rightly been given the chance to shine on the biggest stage after previously making four appearances for the national team.
Overall, the vast majority of people are happy with the squad that Southgate has selected. There remains questions on why players such as James Ward-Prowse and Fikayo Tomori have not been chose but it is a squad that has the ability to reach the latter stages of the competition. But most importantly, what do you think of Southgate’s squad for this upcoming World Cup?