6 players with fading England World Cup hopes
The last England squad before the World Cup had few surprises with Gareth Southgate mainly sticking to a similar set of players he has used regularly over recent years.
Some fans wanted change after a disappointing run of winless fixtures in the Nations League this summer culminated in the low point of the Southgate era, a 4-0 home loss to Hungary.
But Southgate has faith in the players who took the Three Lions to the semi-finals at Russia 2018, then went one step further at Euro 2020 only to suffer penalty heartbreak against Italy.
That means that while there is still time to shine ahead of Southgate’s selection for Qatar, a clutch of players have fading hopes of making the cut. Here are six stars likely to miss out.
Ben White – Arsenal
White has won four caps and he was in Southgate’s provisional squad for Euro 2020 only to be one of the players cut from the final group, with the 24-year-old again on the fringes this year.
Arsenal fans have pointed White is in fine form this season. However, the defender’s problem is he is currently featuring at right-back for the Gunners, rather than in the heart of their back line.
White may be outperforming players such as Harry Maguire and Conor Coady who are included in Southgate’s squad, but England have an embarrassment of riches in the right-back slot.
It is difficult for Southgate to pick White as a centre-back when he is not getting a game in his strongest position at club level, even if the ex-Brighton man’s versatility can count in his favour.
England are likely to use Kyle Walker or Reece James as the wide centre-back on the right side if they opt for a back three, with White lacking the recovery pace either of those players boast.
As a result, it is hard to see White making the trip to Qatar, but his time will come for England.
Callum Wilson – Newcastle United
England still have a question mark over who will be the main backup for star striker Harry Kane, but Wilson’s hopes of going to Qatar were dented after he was left out again this month.
Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe feels Wilson can still force his way into Southgate’s plans but the 30-year-old won the most recent of his four caps in 2019 and has players ahead of him.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney has jumped above Wilson in England’s pecking order after earning a maiden call-up for September’s Nations League games against Italy and Germany. The fact Wilson is regarded as being injury-prone is also likely to be considered by Southgate as well.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin – Everton
Toney’s call-up was also bad news for Calvert-Lewin, whose myriad injury issues of late mean his hopes of going to the World Cup are all but over.
The 25-year-old has yet to feature in the Premier League this term and only managed five goals last season from his 17 appearances in a disrupted, difficult year for the Toffees.
Calvert-Lewin’s aerial ability would make him a decent Plan B option for England but Toney and Roma striker Tammy Abraham are now far likelier to be used as attacking options behind Kane.
Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho – Manchester United
A better start to the season for United prompted suggestions both Rashford and Sancho could both be recalled by Southgate, but neither made the cut for his Nations League squad.
Rashford seemed closer to being picked only for an injury problem to scupper his hopes but Sancho can feel aggrieved after finding form under new Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag.
Sancho’s quality is not in doubt and Rashford has delivered for England before, with the 24-year-old having scored 12 times for the Three Lions in his 46 international caps.
Both attackers will hope United’s strong run continues in the build-up to the World Cup, with places seemingly still up for grabs for versatile wide options in the final squad of 26.
James Maddison – Leicester City
The Foxes are rock bottom of the Premier League and Maddison continues to be overlooked by England despite still making a positive impression for Brendan Rodgers’ struggling side.
Maddison was the highest scoring midfielder qualified to play for England in the Premier League last season and, despite Leicester’s issues, he has also hit three goals in six games this term.
With Maddison winning his only international cap in 2019, Southgate appears to lack trust in the 25-year-old. Players such as Mason Mount, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden are preferred.
England have plenty of options in the attacking midfield spots, with Maddison set to miss out. While Maddison’s set piece prowess is in his favour, Southgate prefers James Ward-Prowse.