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Alexander-Arnold and Maddison in, Maguire question mark - SPORTbible writers pick 26-man England squads for 2022 World Cup

The SPORTbible Team

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Alexander-Arnold and Maddison in, Maguire question mark - SPORTbible writers pick 26-man England squads for 2022 World Cup

England manager Gareth Southgate will name his 26-man England squad on Thursday ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with several key selection decisions still to be made.

While players like Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden are dead certs to be in Southgate's group later this week, players like Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Maddison will be sweating on their inclusions before the squad list is confirmed.

We have decided to exclude certain players such as Reece James from this list because the expectation is that he will miss the cut to be selected for the finals.

With that in mind, we tasked the SPORTbible team with picking their own 26-man squads for the Three Lions ahead of the squad being formally announced.

In total, there were 22 players who each writer picked, while there were 12 names who featured in at least one list - but not all of them.

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Here's who our panel selected - and we've also named the overall squad we believe England should pick for the finals based on the average picks of all writers.

Nasir Jabbar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope.

Defenders: Harry Maguire, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Ben White, Dan Burn, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Ryan Sessegnon, Kieran Trippier.

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, James Maddison, Jordan Henderson, Conor Gallagher.

Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish.

My England team includes the usual names; from Harry Kane to Declan Rice. But I’ve included Trent Alexander-Arnold despite his inconsistent start at Liverpool. His attacking attributes are just too good to leave out. The same can be said for James Maddison, who has starred this season. His scintillating form at Leicester City cannot be ignored. He has to be on the plane to Qatar. I’ve opted for Conor Gallagher over Kalvin Phillips, who has barely kicked a ball for Manchester City this season. With Ben Chilwell’s unfortunate injury, I’m taking Ryan Sessegnon as another left-sided full-back option. Newcastle United pair Callum Wilson and Dan Burn also make the cut, having impressed this season.

Ryan Sessegnon is a possible wildcard pick for England. Credit: Alamy
Ryan Sessegnon is a possible wildcard pick for England. Credit: Alamy

Rory O'Callaghan

Goalkeepers: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope.

Defenders: Walker, Alexander-Arnold, Trippier, Stones, White, Maguire, Shaw, Eric Dier, Tomori.

Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips, Henderson, Mount, Foden, Maddison, James Ward-Prowse.

Forwards: Kane, Saka, Grealish, Rashford, Sterling, Wilson.

I've taken a huge risk in only including one specialised left-back in my squad, Luke Shaw, with Kieran Trippier able to provide back-up if the Manchester United man gets injured. If Trippier also suffers an injury, Bukayo Saka could potentially fill in as a left wing-back. Dan Burn, Tyrick Mitchell, Ryan Sessegnon and James Justin are other options at left-back but rather than draft in an experienced player who is unlikely to play, I’ve used Ben Chilwell’s spot in the squad to bolster England’s attacking options with Leicester’s James Maddison. Newcastle striker Callum Wilson sneaks in ahead of Roma’s Tammy Abraham and Brentford's Ivan Toney, while James Ward-Prowse is also in to provide midfield cover. The rest of the squad pretty much picks itself. While my squad may appear unbalanced, the majority of England’s best players are in attack. Gareth Southgate should look to play to the team’s strengths and adopt an attacking approach in Qatar.

Marcus Chan

Goalkeepers: Ramsdale, Pickford, Pope.

Defenders: Alexander-Arnold, Trippier, Walker, White, Stones, Joe Gomez, Shaw, Maguire, Tomori.

Midfielders: Foden, Mount, Bellingham, Rice, Henderson, Maddison, Ward-Prowse.

Forwards: Rashford, Kane, Saka, Sterling, Harvey Barnes, Wilson, Grealish.

Despite all the talk about his defending, Alexander-Arnold has to be included as his creative play from full-back is second to none. Most of the squad pick themselves. A fine mix of youth and experience will help Southgate navigate the tournament. Leicester star Harvey Barnes is my wildcard pick as he has found form at the right time, a classy player who can change the game in the blink of an eye.

Harvey Barnes has been in fine form for Leicester City. Credit: Alamy
Harvey Barnes has been in fine form for Leicester City. Credit: Alamy

Daniel Marland

Goalkeepers: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope.

Defenders: Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Trippier, White, Tomori, Maguire, Stones, Marc Guehi, Conor Coady, Shaw.

Midfielders: Rice, Phillips, Bellingham, Henderson, Maddison, Foden, Mount.

Forwards: Sterling, Rashford, Saka, Grealish, Wilson, Kane.

The England goalkeepers pick themselves at this point, although Jordan Pickford should still be No.1 over Aaron Ramsdale. Defence is tricky with Reece James and Ben Chilwell out and uncertainty over Kyle Walker's status. Ben White deserves a chance with so many out in addition to his fine form for Arsenal this season. Harry Maguire gets criticism for his Manchester United form, yet steps up for England. Ditto Mason Mount. James Maddison's inclusion is heart over head, but he could be the difference-maker in tight games, especially if knockout ties go over 90 minutes. Callum Wilson is the best out-and-out striker not named Harry Kane at this present moment. Marcus Rashford's form gets him back into the squad, while United teammate Jadon Sancho misses out.

Jack Kenmare

Goalkeepers: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope.

Defenders: Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Trippier, White, Tomori, Burn, Stones, Dier, Guehi, Shaw.

Midfielders: Rice, Phillips, Bellingham, Henderson, Maddison, Foden, Mount.

Forwards: Sterling, Rashford, Saka, Grealish, Wilson, Kane.

There’s plenty of obvious selections in my 26-man squad, so I’ll pick out the not-so straight forward decisions. First off, there shouldn’t be a debate about whether Trent Alexander-Arnold makes it or not. With the absence of Reece James through injury, he’s a must for me because of his ability to feed Harry Kane/Callum Wilson from the flank. I’ve left Harry Maguire out and included Fikayo Tomori based on form in the last 12 months. Maguire’s confidence and lack of pace would be a real worry for me against the stronger teams.

I’m all about form-based selections and that’s why Dan Burn, Eric Dier (who can also play DM) and James Maddison — one the Premier League’s best players right now — make my squad. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was also under consideration after a superb 12 months, as was Conor Gallagher, but I opted for Kalvin Phillips based on international experience.

Finally, the much-debated forward slot goes to Callum Wilson; another in-form player going into this winter’s tournament. Ivan Toney was so close to getting the call-up but Wilson edged it.

Callum Wilson is one of England's most in-form strikers ahead of the World Cup. Credit: Alamy
Callum Wilson is one of England's most in-form strikers ahead of the World Cup. Credit: Alamy

Tom Marshall-Bailey

Goalkeepers: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope.

Defenders: Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Trippier, White, Tomori, Maguire, Burn, Stones, Shaw.

Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Maddison, Foden, Mount, Ward-Prowse.

Forwards: Sterling, Rashford, Saka, Grealish, Wilson, Kane, Ivan Toney.

As with the rest of the writers, I think there are a number of names here who have to be on the list and there are probably three roles up for consideration. The three picks I have which differ to the others are Dan Burn, James Ward-Prowse and Ivan Toney. With England struggling for naturally left-sided defenders, I think Burn could be a really valuable asset to Southgate. He has experience of playing as a left-sided defender in a back three or as a left-back in a four which could free up Kieran Trippier to be used elsewhere while backing up Luke Shaw. He's also part of the joint-best Premier League defence so far this season, which counts for a lot. It feels slightly disrespectful to Ward-Prowse to only discuss his set-piece ability but, in addition to his obvious talent, I think he will bring some leadership to the group and is a familiar face in Southgate's squads, while there are not masses of alternatives in central midfield, where Conor Gallagher has been in and out of the Chelsea side and Kalvin Phillips has missed a significant chunk of the season at Manchester City. Ivan Toney is my final pick as someone who can offer a slightly different profile of striker up front, as well as boasting an enviable record from 12 yards. And we all know how valuable that could be for England in a World Cup.

Overall squad based on all writers' picks

Goalkeepers: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope.

Defenders: Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Trippier, White, Stones, Maguire, Burn, Tomori, Shaw.

Midfielders: Rice, Bellingham, Henderson, Phillips, Ward-Prowse, Mount, Foden, Maddison.

Forwards: Saka, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish, Kane, Wilson.

Who would make your England squad tomorrow? Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: England, Gareth Southgate, Football World Cup, Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Maddison, Kalvin Phillips

The SPORTbible Team
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