Time is running out for those England hopefuls who wish to be part of Gareth Southgate’s Qatar World Cup squad, and while one or two have certainly cemented their importance in the Three Lions set-up, others have flattered to deceive and may well miss out altogether.
England are among the favourites in terms of the World Cup 2022 betting odds, and that’s very much down to merit and not just because the market for placing bets on the Three Lions is so huge.
The selection that Southgate makes, as he trims his massive 55-man longlist down to 26 for the finals, will play a big part when it comes to the World Cup betting that will ensue.
So, who will make it, and who will have to watch the finals from the comfort of their own homes?
Raheem Sterling Out of Sorts
It would be fair to say that the former Manchester City man hasn’t impressed all that much since leaving the Etihad Stadium for Stamford Bridge, but it’s highly unlikely it will cost the winger his place in the England set-up.
That’s because, on the whole, Sterling has delivered the goods for Southgate and has the ability to make an impact in Qatar, but he may no longer be one of the first names on his starting eleven team sheet.
The 27-year-old undoubtedly has World Cup pedigree and has impressed on the biggest stage. Sterling already has 79 caps to his name and played a part in both 2014 and 2018 in Brazil and Russia, respectively.
Similarly, one has to wonder whether £100m man Jack Grealish has done enough to warrant a seat on the plane. The former Aston Villa man has been dire under Pep Guardiola, and without the price tag on the wide-man, would he even be in the running for a spot in the England squad?
His performances over the past 18 months certainly haven’t suggested he should be in the picture.
Arsenal and Leicester City Star Must Make It
If Sterling is a player who is fighting for Southgate’s attention, then two players who have done more than enough when on club duty to make it to Qatar are Arsenal’s Ben White and Leicester City’s James Maddison.
White, who can play as a full-back and in the centre of defence, has just four caps to his name but has been hugely impressive as Arsenal have started the Premier League season with a bang.
The 25-year-old has earned a place in Southgate’s final 26, as has playmaker Maddison, who has been a bright spot in the Foxes’ poor season. The former Coventry City and Norwich City man has only played once for the national team, back in November 2019, but must be a good shot to make it given his consistent club form.
Kieran Trippier to Start?
Newcastle United have been hugely impressive this season, and wide defender, and set-piece specialist, Kieran Trippier has been a big part of that success and may now be a sure-fire starter for England.
The former Tottenham and Atletico Madrid man has been a big hit since moving to the North-East, and injuries to other contenders, on either flank have improved his chances of being a key player in Qatar.
Growing Injury List
Chelsea duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell look likely to miss the finals with knee and hamstrings, respectively, and that will impact Southgate’s options on either side of his England defensive set-up.
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker, another full-back, is fighting to be back to fitness ahead of the finals, with the experienced defender having undergone surgery to resolve a groin problem.
His club team-mate Kalvin Phillips also looks good to return after the 26-year-old had surgery on a shoulder problem. The former Leeds United man has barely featured since his move to City but has always impressed when on England duty, so he will almost undoubtedly be picked if fit for action.
Other injury doubts include Newcastle United’s Callum Wilson, though Southgate is still positive about his side’s chances at the finals, which kick off on November 20th.
“England historically don’t respond well to pressure and expectation. But now, with the team we know, they know they’re capable. They’ve been to a semifinal, and they’ve been to a final. So, for the team, they’ll be disappointed with less,”
“We think we can have a really exciting tournament and take the fans on another journey. But we also know that there are a lot of 50-50 matches. That’s the challenge for us to be the better team in those big games.” Southgate added.