England World Cup squad announcement: Which outsiders have the loudest clamour?

Will Ben White and Callum Wilson make England squad? Credit: Alamy
Will Ben White and Callum Wilson make England squad? Credit: Alamy

England will announce their World Cup squad on Thursday afternoon and there have been thousands upon thousands of words written and tweets sent as everybody professes to know more about managing England than the actual England manager.

In order to qualify for this list of players championed by all and sundry, the players must not have been in the last England squad in September. So we are ignoring the clamours for Trent Alexander-Arnold (surely in) and Fikayo Tomori (likely out) because they were in that last squad.

 

5) Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea)
Last called up by Gareth Southgate in March 2019 but he did go to the last World Cup and did start three games in that tournament, so we know the England manager is a fan. But that was 2018 and this is 2022, when Loftus-Cheek is actually playing games for Chelsea, though crucially not playing consistently well.

If he watched him against Manchester United then he is in. If he watched him against Arsenal then he is not.

Why the clamour? Because people have belatedly realised that we do not really have many central midfielders, despite desperate attempts to claim Mason Mount, James Maddison or Phil Foden can play in that position. And nobody likes to opt for the dull but more likely option of James Ward-Prowse.

READ: Five England players to suffer the biggest falls from grace since the last World Cup

 

4) Callum Wilson (Newcastle United)
It’s been over three years since Wilson last got an England call but he has timed a run of fitness and form to perfection as he has scored four goals in his last seven Premier League games. Two months ago all the clamour was for Ivan Toney and his penalty-taking abilities but the clamour is fickle and people have moved on; it’s now all about Wilson, who has the advantage of a powerful north-east media on his side.

There is definitely a depth of feeling that a fit Wilson is a more rounded footballer than either Toney or Tammy Abraham, who has not scored a Serie A goal since mid-September. Alan Shearer prefers him to his rivals, which may or may not be because Newcastle, but we think he knows a fair bit about strikers.

 

3) Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
This one has died down a little but was feverish three weeks ago when Gomez was sensational against Manchester City. He has reverted to being a bit sh*t since then and has played just three minutes of Liverpool’s last two fixtures after Ibrahima Konate returned to fitness. And of course Liverpool fans don’t want any of their players to be called up by England anyway so…

The chat about England’s central defensive options is very odd because Marc Guehi has been in every England squad in 2022 and yet he is never mentioned in anybody’s dream World Cup 26. He is far, far more likely to get the nod than Tomori or Gomez, but obviously the only people clamouring for Guehi’s inclusion share his surname or his shirt.

 

2) Ben White (Arsenal)
The one man on this list who seems almost certain to go to the World Cup, largely for reasons of injury to Reece James. The very thing that prevented him being called up in September (being played at right-back by Mikel Arteta) is likely to help him get the nod in November (being played at right-back by Mikel Arteta).

Many Arsenal fans have already worked themselves into a frenzy about White being left out before it has actually happened, creating memes featuring him, Harry Maguire and Eric Dier as if those were his competition for a place. Stand down because they’re not; all three are likely to go to Qatar.

Oh and the clamour is right because White has been mint this season.

 

1) James Maddison (Leicester City)
Maddison has become a world-beater in his absence from the England set-up. He is Pirlo. He is Pepe. He is pretty much everyone.

Nobody even dare name a World Cup squad without the name of Maddison, except perhaps Gareth Southgate.

Of course we’re not allowed to ask where he would play in this England side as he largely plays from the right for Leicester but is given a free role to roam. Instead we must all pretend that he is in fact a central midfielder so we can justify putting him in our England squads ahead of Ward-Prowse, Jordan Henderson or other terribly dull but crucially apt choices.

The truth is that he would be a handy option to have from the bench but does Southgate want another of those when he already has Grealish? We will find out on Thursday.

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