England 2022 World Cup squad: Who’s on the plane with one year to go?

Gareth Southgate has some difficult decisions to make with his England squad ahead of next year’s tournament (Picture: Getty)

With exactly one year to go until the World Cup in Qatar, the countdown is on for Gareth Southgate and his England side.

After a fourth-place finish at the World Cup three years ago and a runners-up spot at the European Championships last summer, the Three Lions are one of the favourites as the competition heads to the middle-east for the first time.

Not since the mid-1990s has an England manager had such a plethora of options in attack, with an abundance of forwards at Southgate’s disposal.

It’s in midfield where England are light, however, with a lack of traditional box-to-box players available and Southgate may circumvent that by opting to play a back three.

It’s unclear whether FIFA will allow a 26-man squad as was the case at the European Championships last summer but whether it’s 23 or 26, Southgate has a number of tough decisions to make and there’s a number of players that could make a late bid to be on the plane.

Here’s how thinks will be heading to Qatar…


Aaron Ramsdale is pushing Jordan Pickford to be England’s No1.

Southgate’s faith in Pickford has seen the Everton stopper remain first choice throughout the last four years. Though his club form has not always warranted a starting berth, Southgate values Pickford’s ability on the ball and he’s more often than not performed for his country.

Ramsdale is perhaps the surprise promotion from last summer, with the Arsenal goalkeeper earning his first cap in the 10-0 demolition of San Marino. The 24-year-old’s stock has risen significantly following his move to and his early season form has seen him become second choice behind Pickford.

Southgate’s toughest selection is likely to come for the third spot. Nick Pope and Sam Johnstone will be in contention but Southgate is a fan of Manchester United’s Dean Henderson. The former Sheffield United stopper will likely need to leave Old Trafford if he’s to get a spot on the plane but he has time to prove his worth.

Harry Maguire’s form has been questioned recently (Picture: Getty)

England’s strength at full-back areas means it makes sense to play with a back three and is a good way of working around the side’s weakness through central defence and central midfield.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has rediscovered his best form for Liverpool this term and appears to have won back Southgate’s faith. Kyle Walker’s ability to play on the inside of a back three makes him a valuable asset in the squad, while Reece James is a hybrid of both.

On the other side, Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell will battle it out for a starting spot but Aaron Cresswell’s form for West Ham makes him an outside bet to add to his three caps.

In central defence, Harry Maguire and John Stones are certain starters but there’s less certainty over the back-up. Southgate values Conor Coady’s work ethic and professionalism but his form for Wolves must improve to keep his spot, while Tyrone Mings’ form at Villa has been questionable. Arsenal’s Ben White could be the biggest promotion in the next 12 months, with the former Brighton defender showing good progress at the Emirates since his £50m move to north London.

Jude Bellingham could be an England starter by the time the World Cup comes around (Picture: Getty)

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips formed a good partnership as England made the final of the Euros last summer and the former has made even bigger strides in his career since the tournament, making him one of the first names on the Three Lions’ teamsheet.

The spot next to Rice could be occupied by Philips, Jordan Henderson or Dortmund wonderkid Jude Bellingham but don’t rule out Oliver Skipp making a late bid for the squad under Antonio Conte’s guidance at Tottenham.

Mason Mount is one of Southgate’s most trusted players and will make the squad, provided he’s given suitable game time at Stamford Bridge.


Raheem Sterling remains one of Gareth Southgate’s most trusted players (Picture: Getty)

England’s strength is in the wide areas and Southgate will have to be selective with who is on the plane to Qatar.

Despite his lack of game time at Manchester City, Raheem Sterling is one of Southgate’s most trusted lieutenants and it would be a surprise to see him omitted, even if his club form continues. Marcus Rashford is another that is valued by Southgate and he appreciated the Manchester United forward making himself available for last summer’s Championships, despite requiring shoulder surgery.

Bukayo Saka has taken his fine form from last season into this one and Phil Foden’s game has gone up another notch under Pep Guardiola. Jack Grealish moved to Manchester City primarily to win trophies but he also felt it would aid his cause to make the England squad more regularly and Southgate appears to have been won round by the former Aston Villa skipper.

The biggest doubt is over Jadon Sancho. The winger has made a poor start to life at Manchester United since his £73m arrival from Dortmund and he was left out of the squad for the qualifiers against San Marino and Albania. However, Sancho possesses too much quality to be overlooked and he has another 12 months to rediscover his best form.

Harry Kane is closing in on Wayne Rooney’s England goalscoring record (Picture: Getty)

He may be struggling in front of goal for his club, but back-to-back hat tricks in this week’s qualifiers showed Harry Kane hasn’t lost his prowess.

The England skipper is just five goals short of breaking the scoring record for his country and Southgate will once again build his attack around the Tottenham man, regardless of his club form.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin earned a spot at the Euros because of a fine season with Everton but it’s the forward’s aerial presence that makes him a fine plan B option for Southgate.

It’s the third position that will likely be the most contested and Mason Greenwood is the current frontrunner. The Manchester United forward still only has one cap to his name and was left out of the last squad because of his desire to focus on his club.

Southgate has concerns about Greenwood’s professionalism but there should be no such worries over his ability and if he continues playing like he is for United then he should make the squad.

On the fringes….

Steven Gerrard reveals Jurgen Klopp message after taking Aston Villa job

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