England World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate's 26-man selection? Big Debate

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    Inside England’s training base for 2022 World Cup in Qatar

    The 2022 World Cup is rapidly approaching, and Gareth Southgate is due to announce his provisional squad for the tournament imminently. The England manager will eventually be required to trim his selection to a final 26-man contingent as the Three Lions seek eternal glory in Qatar. Will Trent Alexander-Arnold go? Should Harry Maguire and Kalvin Phillips be included? In Express Sport’s latest Big Debate, our team decide the 26-man squads they’d be taking to the Middle East next month…

    Stuart Ballard’s squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale
    Defenders: Trippier, Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Stones, White, Gomez, Maguire, Dier, Chilwell, Shaw
    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Phillips, Ward-Prowse
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Rashford, Toney

    Gareth Southgate made his decision last month when he went with Harry Maguire and now he’s got to stick with it. I don’t think the England boss will deviate too far away from the squad he picked to face Italy and Germany, but Joe Gomez and Ben White are deserving of a seat on the plane to Qatar. It’s a toss-up between Marcus Rashford and Jarrod Bowen in attack, but feel the Manchester United forward will get the nod.

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    England World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate's 26-man selection? Big DebateEngland World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate's

    England World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man selection? Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

    Alex Milne’s squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Ramsdale, Henderson
    Defenders: Trippier, Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Stones, Maguire, Tomori, Dier, Chilwell, Shaw
    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Phillips, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Maddison
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Sancho, Rashford, Toney

    The goalkeepers pick themselves after Nick Pope’s horror show in the 3-3 draw against Germany. Trent Alexander-Arnold squeezes into my squad assuming Reece James won’t make it, but in the tiresome right-back debate the clear starter is Kieran Trippier for me. Every squad needs a wildcard, and James Maddison has done enough in the last few months to show he would be well worth a punt on. Meanwhile, Ivan Toney is the forward option who would cause defences most concern if Harry Kane is off the pitch. The likes of Jarrod Bowen and Tammy Abraham will feel aggrieved to miss out, but they simply haven’t done enough at the start of this season to stake their claim. 

    England World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate's 26-man selection? Big Debate

    England World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man selection? Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

    Ryan Taylor’s squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale
    Defenders: Trippier, Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Stones, White, Maguire, Tomori, Dier, Chilwell, Shaw
    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Maddison
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Rashford, Toney, Bowen

    I think Harry Maguire goes to the World Cup, regardless of his poor performances and lack of minutes. It’s a call that should not be made but as we have seen in recent years, Gareth Southgate shows loyalty to his players. I do agree that it’s hard to justify selecting Kalvin Phillips, however. He has barely kicked a ball since joining Manchester City. Kyle Walker is so important for England, particularly without Reece James, so he deserves a chance to prove his fitness. Conor Coady’s leadership would be missed but I don’t see why he should be selected for that alone. Ben White is the wildcard option but I think he could be a brilliant option for a start. James Maddison simply has to go.

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    Gideon Brooks’ squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale
    Defenders: Alexander-Arnold, Chilwell, White, Gomez, Stones, Maguire, Dier, Walker, Trippier, Shaw
    Midfielders: Bellingham, Rice, Gallagher, Henderson, Loftus-Cheek, Elliott, Mount, Foden, Grealish
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Toney

    As always with England squads, the interest is around the borderlines and the backs-ups and while they may not force their way into the starting XI Ivan Toney, Ben White, Conor Gallagher, Harvey Elliott and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have done enough with their clubs to get on the plane. I hope John Stones and Harry Maguire prove their fitness but Joe Gomez is an able deputy. Holding midfield options are light but I can’t see how you can take Kalvin Phillips with no form under his belt. A front ‘three-one’ combination of Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka behind Harry Kane looks high quality.

    Charlie Malam’s squad  

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale
    Defenders: Trippier, Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Stones, White, Gomez, Tomori, Dier, Chilwell, Shaw
    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Maddison
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Rashford, Toney, Bowen 

    Ivan Toney should go. Harry Kane starts every match but Toney would be my No 2 striker if I was Southgate. Marcus Rashford and Jarrod Bowen are then in over Tammy Abraham and Dominic Calvert-Lewin due to their superior versatility. Kalvin Phillips misses out due to a lack of sharpness. Maguire and Jadon Sancho are my big-name absentees but James Maddison and Trent Alexander-Arnold makes it in. Joe Gomez and Ben White start with John Stones in my XI. And Fikayo Tomori and Eric Dier are better back-ups than Maguire in his current form and confidence. 

    England World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate's 26-man selection? Big Debate

    England World Cup squad: Who should be in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man selection? Big Debate (Image: GETTY)

    Sam Smith’s squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale
    Defenders: Stones, Maguire, Dier, Tomori, Gomez, Guehi, Chilwell, Trippier, Shaw, Alexander-Arnold 
    Midfielders: Rice, Henderson, Bellingham, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Elliott
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Abraham, Rashford, Sancho 

    This is perhaps the toughest tournament squad Gareth Southgate has had to pick so far for several reasons. The poor form of a few usual regulars makes his choice tricky, while a few fringe stars could play themselves into contention. A fully fit Joe Gomez could squeeze his way into the fold, while there are places in this squad for Tammy Abraham and Jadon Sancho. Ivan Toney is an unlucky absentee. Each tournament usually springs up a surprise inclusion – step forward the ever-impressive Harvey Elliott.

    Jack Otway’s England World Cup squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale

    Defenders: Trippier, Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Stones, White, Maguire, Smalling, Dier, Chilwell, Shaw

    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Maddison

    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Rashford, Toney, Calvert-Lewin

    Harry Maguire may be down in the dumps at Manchester United but he rarely lets England down. For that reason, he should be on the plane. Dominic Calvert-Lewin would offer an alternative option to the rest of England’s forwards, while Ivan Toney’s current form means he deserves to go as well. Bringing James Maddison back into the international fold would be good as well, given how well he’s performed at Leicester. While Fikayo Tomori has done well for AC Milan, Chris Smalling has been even better for Roma – and subsequently warrants a recall.

    Fikayo Tomori

    Fikayo Tomori has been overlooked on multiple occasions by Southgate despite AC Milan form (Image: GETTY)

    Lewis Winter’s England World Cup squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale
    Defenders: Stones, Walker, Dier, Maguire, Chilwell, Shaw, Trippier, Alexander-Arnold, White, Tomori
    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Henderson, Maddison
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Sterling, Toney, Abraham, Rashford

    Harry Maguire is a controversial pick but has rarely let England down on the big stage. He must prove his fitness before the tournament, mind. Ivan Toney is in the form of his life so has to be on the plane, even if just to take a penalty. Ben White’s form at club level must be rewarded and Kyle Walker has to go if he’s fit. James Maddison would unlikely start a game at the tournament but has the X factor that could make the difference off the bench. Trent Alexander-Arnold has too much quality to leave at home, while Marcus Rashford has shown glimpses of getting back to his best.

    Alex Turk’s England World Cup squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope

    Defenders: Trippier, Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Stones, Dier, Tomori, Smalling, White, Shaw, Chilwell

    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Ward-Prowse, Mount, Maddison

    Forwards: Foden, Saka, Sterling, Grealish, Kane, Toney, Rashford

    This squad is based on the likely probability that Gareth Southgate runs a back five for the second successive World Cup. The big decision is Chris Smalling over Harry Maguire – Manchester United’s past over present. Smalling is thriving in Italy, just as much as Fikayo Tomori, and his experience could prove crucial in a young squad. Maguire will likely go as part of Southgate’s trusted core, but his confidence and form don’t warrant selection. Ivan Toney deserves to enter the tournament as Harry Kane’s backup. James Maddison must feature too.

    James Maddison

    James Maddison’s fine form could have come just at the right time to land him a spot on the plane (Image: GETTY)

    Joe Krishnan’s England World Cup squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale
    Defenders: Trippier, Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Stones, White, Tomori, Dier, Chilwell, Shaw
    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Foden, Mount, Grealish, Maddison, Gallagher
    Forwards: Kane, Saka, Abraham, Sterling, Sancho, Toney

    A World Cup squad needs a variety of different options, players with world-class pedigree that can deliver at any moment and others that are simply in terrific form. For that reason, Ivan Toney and Fikayo Tomori make it over Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford, who pay the price for their sub-par performances over the last year. Ben White’s versatility as a CB or RB is the reason he is preferred over Conor Coady, while Conor Gallagher pips Kalvin Phillips due to his incredible energy as a box-to-box midfielder.

    Jack McEachen’s England World Cup squad

    Keepers: Pickford, Pope, Ramsdale

    Defenders: Stones, Dier, Maguire, White, James, Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Trippier, Chilwell, Shaw

    Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Phillips, Mount, Maddison

    Forwards: Kane, Sterling, Saka, Foden, Grealish, Toney, Rashford

    A few players are lacking games going into the tournament, but England should expect to reach the latter stages in Qatar where James, Walker and Phillips can make an impact. Think Alexander-Arnold and Maddison should go despite not being Southgate’s favoured options, they can change a game in the blink of an eye. Toney as Kane’s backup, even if it’s just to take a penalty in a shoot-out, while Rashford over the likes of Bowen and Eze was close, but he has pedigree for England in the past.



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