The 26-man England squad Gareth Southgate should take to the Qatar World Cup
Posted by  badge Boss on Nov 09
Gareth Southgate has some huge decisions to make ahead of naming his England World Cup squad (Getty / Metro.co.uk)

Though it may not feel like it, we are within touching distance of the start of a that promises to be unique in every sense.

It’s the stage of the season where the Premier League season normally clicks into gear ahead of a packed festive calendar but it will cease for six weeks post this weekend’s action to give way to a maiden winter World Cup.

Never before has picking a tournament squad been fraught with so much difficulty for international managers, who must name their 26-man touring party before a further two round of domestic fixtures.

We’ve already seen a host of players such as N’Golo Kante, and pull out of the tournament with injury and the unfortunate reality is that there’s likely to be more between now and the start of England’s World Cup campaign against Iran on November 21.

An expanded squad list of 26 should mean Southgate can cover his bases but he still faces some tough decisions, particularly in midfield and attack.

With that in mind, Metro.co.uk’s selected the 26-man squad Southgate *should* choose if the Three Lions are to end their 56-year wait for World Cup glory.

Goalkeepers

Jordan Picford is firmly established as England’s No.1 (Picture: Getty)

Southgate has shown faith in Jordan Pickford since taking charge and it looks likely that the Everton goalkeeper will be his first choice once again in Qatar.

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Aaron Ramsdale has come on leaps and bounds since joining Arsenal in 2021 and his ability with his feet is something that Southgate looks for in his No.1.

In third, it’s a straight choice between Nick Pope and Dean Henderson but the Newcastle stopper has been in fine form this term and his added experience could prove important.

Defence

England look likely to be without Reece James at the World Cup (Picture: Getty)

It’s in defence where England have the most injury concerns.

Kyle Walker has been sidelined for the last five weeks with a groin injury but he’s on course to recover in time for the tournament and his ability to play at right wing-back, right-back and right centre-back makes him a shoo-in.

There’s less optimism that Reece James will prove his fitness in time after he sustained a knee injury last month and even the best case-scenario has the Chelsea defender returning for the latter stages of the tournament.

With the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier available, James’ inclusion is not worth it above others that can play from the first minute of the tournament. On the other side Luke Shaw is included and the likes of Trippier and Walker can provide cover after Ben Chilwell’s injury.

Central defence is England’s weakest area of the squad and the likes of Harry Maguire, Conor Coady and John Stones can count themselves lucky that there’s not stiffer competition. Fikayo Tomori deserves a call-up for his form with AC Milan, while Ben White has shown his flexibility by excelling at right-back with Arsenal this term.

Midfielders

James Maddison has been snubbed regularly by Gareth Southgate (Picture: Getty)

Central midfield has been an area of concern in recent years for the Three Lions but the emergence of Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham has given the side a new-look in recent times.

While those two should feature in Qatar, starting opportunities are less assured for Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish as much will depend on what formation Southgate opts to go with.

With Jordan Henderson and Ruben Loftus-Cheek providing depth to the central midfield options, the biggest call comes in the form of James Maddison.

The Leicester City playmaker has somehow only managed one appearance for the Three Lions and he’s been repeatedly snubbed by Southgate.

Maddison’s performances in an under-performing Leicester side this season have been exceptional and though there may not be a natural position for him in the side, he deserves to go in recognition of his performances.

Attack

Harry Kane won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia (Picture: Getty)

Captain Harry Kane will be looking to build on his fantastic World Cup debut in 2018 this time around and he’s a certainty to lead the line for the Three Lions.

Bukayo Saka should start on the right flank, meaning there’s likely one more starting berth up for grabs.

Marcus Rashford has forced his way back into the squad and is Manchester United’s top scorer this term following a dismal campaign last time out. It could be between the 25-year-old and Raheem Sterling for the final spot in attack and the Chelsea man may struggle given his underwhelming performances since moving to Stamford Bridge.

Callum Wilson and Ivan Toney are vying for the same spot in many people’s minds but the pair are such contrasting strikers that it’s worth dropping a midfielder in order to bring both players.

The England squad Gareth Southgate SHOULD pick

Golkeepers: Aaron Ramsdale, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Conor Coady, Ben White, Luke Shaw

Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, James Maddinson

Forwards: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson, Ivan Toney

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