England: Predicting the 2022 World Cup squad

Gareth Southgate, England
(Image credit: Getty Images)

England used to struggle to field a first XI that could truly challenge on the world stage: now, the Three Lions struggling to name a squad without leaving out truly elite footballers. 

It's a much better place to be. But with so many top players across clubs, some of them have to miss out. Some of the best players in the world might be left at home to simply watch the action later this year. 

Gareth Southgate was lucky to have 26 spots in his Euro 2020 squad: assuming he only gets 23 for Qatar, who's going along?

The predicted England 2022 World Cup squad: Goalkeepers

Jordan Pickford, England, Euro 2020

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let's start right at the back. Jordan Pickford has been Gareth Southgate's no.1 for the past two tournaments and will likely make a third, even despite a wretched season with Everton – whether or not he's first-choice. 

Aaron Ramsdale is pushing him closest for the no.1 jersey with great form for Arsenal, with the other high profile goalkeeper at England's disposal, Dean Henderson, a doubt for the tournament unless he's playing regularly next season. Fraser Forster and Sam Johnstone are the next in line, as proven by recent call-ups. 

Nick Pope might get a call-up if he proves he can play with his feet – though Southgate doesn't seem to favour him. Freddie Woodman, on loan at Bournemouth, is currently not really playing – but Gareth Southgate is his godfather. Jack Butland might be the only other shout to regain a place – but as no.2 to Vincent Guaita at Palace, that seems unlikely, too. 

Central defence

Ben White (left) made his second England start.

(Image credit: PA)

England seem to be at a crossroads in defence. Harry Maguire and John Stones are the two most senior options – but with Maguire's poor form and Stones so often not an automatic starter for Manchester City, neither are as secure in their position as others of similar presence in the set-up. Still, it would probably take monumentally bad form for either to drop out completely. 

Ben White and Marc Guehi seem the natural successors, judging by this international break's call-ups, with Midlands club captains Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings often selected for their leadership and off-field contributions. That's a lot of centre-backs to take: but Southgate likes a lot of defensive options and he likes leaders in that area of the pitch: surely at least one of Coady and Mings will go. Both are perhaps ahead of Guehi right now.

Fikayo Tomori is the obvious absence, right now. Qatar may come a little too soon for the AC Milan man to force his way into the side – unless a big move to a big Premier League side happens this summer. Joe Gomez and Eric Dier might yet force  back into the set-up – but both seem unlikely. 

Trevoh Chalobah, Japhet Tanganga and maybe Rob Holding are maybe next in the pecking order – but surely can only expect call-ups if there are injuries. 

Right-back

Reece James

(Image credit: Getty)

Where England's embarrassment of riches lie. Three right-backs went to the last World Cup and there are even better options this time. 

Kyle Walker is the first-choice and can play at centre-back, too – but beyond that, there's going to be one disappointed party, surely. Trent Alexander-Arnold has seemingly never convinced Southgate and didn't get to at the Euros, while Kieran Trippier is ageing and currently out injured. Reece James makes up the original four picked last summer and is the best all-around going forward and back. For our money, we reckon Trippier will miss out. 

Kyle Walker-Peters' recent call-up puts him firmly in the next band of players looking for a call-up, ahead of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, whose poor season hasn't done him any favours. Tino Livramento surely has to be an outsider by now, as does Tariq Lamptey and Ben Johnson. With just a 23-man squad, it'll be too soon for any of them, though. 

Left-back

Luke Shaw

(Image credit: PA Images)

Luke Shaw is the frontrunner to start in Qatar and Ben Chilwell's disrupted season has done little to change that. Tyrick Mitchell is next in line, while Bukayo Saka is an option there.

Kieran Trippier to sneak into the squad as a back-up left-back? We wouldn't be surprised. Matt Targett, Rico Henry and Omar Richards might feel aggrieved, too. 

Central midfield

England

(Image credit: Getty)

Declan Rice is the standout option and certain of going to the tournament. Jordan Henderson is a vice-captain in the team and almost guaranteed of a place, with Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount fixtures in the set-up since their first call-ups. The four of them are all dead certs for different reasons. 

Kalvin Phillips has had a bad season at Leeds, with injuries and his side's form. He could miss out – especially considering he was the direct replacement for Henderson at the Euros, depending on other players. James Ward-Prowse is on the periphery, Curtis Jones is on the cusp of a call-up (though not getting first-team minutes with Liverpool), while his colleague Harvey Elliott might be a surprise shout for the team.

Elliott might be in the James Maddison category: a clearly talented midfielder who has a laddish image. Could that count against him for Southgate, who values mature leader types? Either way, Conor Gallagher is ahead of him for now, while Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Jesse Lingard also seem more likely to return than we are to see Elliott – providing both play first-team football next season. 

Attackers

Raheem Sterling

(Image credit: PA Images)

Raheem Sterling is definitely on the plane, regardless of club form: and Euro 2020 proved while that might be a good thing. Bukayo Saka has had a superb season and offers versatility, so count him in, along with Phil Foden and Jack Grealish who seem certainties, too.

Jadon Sancho missed out on a recent call-up and could struggle to regain his place – and the same goes for Marcus Rashford with Emile Smith Rowe picked for the past two squads. Jarrod Bowen could yet force his way into the squad, too. Callum Hudson-Odoi seems unlikely to earn his place back – but stranger things have happened. 

The number of attacking options surely depends on the number of strikers who go, too. In the olden days, it would've seemed unthinkable not to take four strikers: these days, with advent of false nines, that number is shrinking. Given how well Foden and Sterling play as a strikers for City, for example, they may be considered as ones in the World Cup squad. 

Strikers

England Harry Kane

(Image credit: Getty)

Harry Kane is going as captain and probably the all-time England scorer ever. After that, things become hazy.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was his second-in-command at the Euros but has had an atrocious season with injury. Ollie Watkins hasn't played centrally as much this season with Danny Ings coming to Aston Villa. Ivan Toney is a good all-round player but could he lead the line for England at an international tournament?

Tammy Abraham has had the best season of any of them at Roma and seems the best bet to replicate what Kane offers. Patrick Bamford looks unlikely to build on his single cap right now and Callum Wilson was en vogue once but probably won't be again.

FourFourTwo's prediction

Goalkeepers: Aaron Ramsdale, Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Ben White, Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Jude Bellingham

Forwards: Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham

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