Gareth Southgate’s England squad reveal for the 2022 World Cup had Three Lions fans on the edge of their seats as the countdown to Qatar continues.
The former defender found himself with a string of key decisions to make on his final 26-man panel, with elation for those picked, and disappointment for those missing out.
Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold made the cut, after missing Euro 2020 through injury, alongside bold calls for Conor Gallagher and Marcus Rashford.
Southgate responded to the public drive to include James Maddison by naming the Leicester City star, but the difficult calls to players not called up have dominated Southgate’s agenda.
Who missed out on England squad?
Southgate admitted he has been unable to speak to certain selected players in recent days as his priority was reaching out to those not selected.
The England manager’s task of naming a World Cup squad never fails to spark a national debate and frustration for those remaining at home.
Injuries have robbed Reece James and Ben Chilwell of a World Cup spot this month with Fikayo Tomori, Marc Guehi, James Ward-Prowse and Ivan Toney among those overlooked by Southgate despite being fit.
WORLD CUP SQUADS FOR ENGLAND’S GROUP B OPPONENTS:
USA | Wales | Iran
Tomori’s Serie A success not enough
Tomori’s ever present role in AC Milan’s Serie A title win last season brought him to the forefront of Southgate’s thinking this summer.
However, Southgate never appeared willing to break up his Premier League duo of Harry Maguire and John Stones, despite Tomori’s impressive adjustment to Italian football.
Gareth Southgate on Harry Maguire & Fikayo Tomori: “We don’t think the young ones [centre-backs] have done quite enough to push the older ones out”. 🏴 #WorldCup2022
“Yes, I’m sure Harry Maguire is one of our best centre backs”. pic.twitter.com/j9MNgYMwfq
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 10, 2022
The former Chelsea star’s omission is potentially the most controversial call from Southgate with fan concerns over Maguire’s poor form and the presence of Eric Dier and Conor Coady as back-ups.
No party at the Palace as Guehi misses out
Crystal Palace skipper Guehi was a longer shot than Tomori to cover one of the central defensive places despite making all of his three England appearances in 2022.
Despite carrying on an impressive 2021-22 campaign this season, Tomori’s former Blues teammate also appears to have been overlooked in favour of more seasoned campaigners to supplement Maguire and Stones.
Marc Guéhi is the cleanest tackler in Europe’s top five leagues this season (30+ attempted):
◉ 35 tackles attempted
◉ 31 successful tackles
◉ 3 fouls from attempted tackles
◉ 1x dribbled past
An incredible 89% true tackle success rate. 👏
— Squawka (@Squawka) March 22, 2022
Set-piece King Ward-Prowse stays at Southampton
Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse failed to make the cut despite his status as one of the Premier League’s most consistent operators with the most outfield minutes played this season across Europe’s top five domestic leagues.
His golden ticket appeared to be set-pieces, with England lacking a specialist from free-kicks, but Southgate has rolled the dice in favour of other options.
Kalvin Phillips played a key role in England’s run to the final of Euro 2020 but his injury issues have reduced him to a minimal role at Manchester City this season.
Southgate has stuck by the former Leeds United man with Conor Gallagher preferred to Ward-Prowse due to his pressing abilities.
Gareth Southgate has explained why Kalvin Phillips is going to the World Cup…
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) November 10, 2022
Wilson wins the Kane understudy race over Toney
England captain Harry Kane will again lead Southgate’s side at a World Cup with the Spurs hitman already netting 11 Premier League goals this season.
However, the traditional form race between other strikers has included some surprise names, with Newcastle’s Callum Wilson and Brentford skipper Ivan Toney facing off.
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s star fading, Southgate brought Toney into his UEFA Nations League squad in September, but opted against bringing him off the bench.
That stance hinted at uncertainty over the 26-year-old, and despite outscoring Wilson in Premier League action this season (eight to six), Southgate admitted his form dipped at the worst time ahead of the announcement.
Ivan Toney could have been useful in Qatar 👀🎯 pic.twitter.com/zfniQ20WI5
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) November 10, 2022
When is England’s first World Cup match?
England kick off their World Cup Group B campaign against Iran on November 21, 2022 in Doha.
England World Cup 2022 schedule
|Mon, Nov. 21||England vs. Iran||1 p.m.||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
|Fri, Nov. 25||England vs. USA||7 p.m.||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Wales vs. England||7 p.m.||Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium|