England squad: Ranking players ahead of World Cup from ‘Starting XI’ to ‘Will be watching at home’

England squad

England couldn’t have asked for a better international break.

Their mission was to finish off the job and officially qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

At Wembley, they beat Albania 5-0 to effectively seal qualification. They put the cherry on the cake with an emphatic 10-0 victory over San Marino.



Job done.

In 12 months time, Gareth Southgate’s side will be will getting ready for the World Cup.

But who will be on that plane to the Middle East?

Well, we’ve decided to do Southgate’s job for him and rank England players who could potentially make the 23-man squad into categories.

From ‘Will be watching at home’ to ‘Starting XI’ we’ve cast our opinion over a whole host of England stars to rank their chances of being in Qatar using Tiermaker.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our ranking:

QUIZ: Can you name these England one-cap wonders?

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Who received their only cap against Norway in 2012?

Will be watching from home

  • Michael Keane
  • Aaron Wan-Bissaka
  • Oliver Skipp
  • Ivan Toney
  • Trevoh Chalobah
  • Callum Wilson
  • Ollie Watkins
  • Matt Target
  • James Tarkowski
  • James Maddison

Forget beer gardens in the summer, these guys will be watching at home with a hot chocolate with the Christmas decorations up.

We’re not going to go through each player individually but very few of these players even have caps under their belt and if Southgate doesn’t feel the need to call them up for games against Albania and San Marino, he’s not going to call them up for the World Cup. They will be enjoying a nice six-week break in the middle of the season.

Ollie Watkins

Unlikely to make it

  • Jesse Lingard
  • Fikayo Tomori
  • Kieran Trippier
  • Nick Pope
  • Joe Gomez
  • James Ward-Prowse
  • Tammy Abraham
  • Patrick Bamford
  • Jarrod Bowen
  • Conor Gallagher
  • Callum Hudson-Odoi
  • Sam Johnstone

This group of players have slightly more chance of making the final squad but it’s ‘unlikely’ at this stage.

Many of them have already represented their country but for a number of reasons – whether that’s a lack of playing time at their club or better players ahead of them – they need a bit of luck to make the 23-man squad.

But don’t write them off immediately. A superb second half of the season or a couple of injuries and they could well be heading to Qatar.

Tammy Abraham

Making up the numbers

  • Jadon Sancho
  • Conor Coady
  • Tyrone Mings
  • Emile Smith Rowe
  • Mason Greenwood
  • Marcus Rashford
  • Dominic Calvert-Lewin
  • Ben White

When we say ‘making up the numbers’ we don’t mean this in a derogatory way. These are all fantastic players who will feel they deserve a place in Southgate’s squad. There won’t be room for all of them, though.

If they do make it, they won’t be expecting to start too many matches in the tournaments but will hope to play a role from off the substitutes bench.

Jadon Sancho, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ben White are the three players who are most likely to miss out on the final squad.

Emile Smith Rowe

Definitely on the plane

  • Jordan Henderson
  • Bukayo Saka
  • Ben Chilwell
  • John Stones
  • Kalvin Phillips
  • Jude Bellingham
  • Mason Mount
  • Aaron Ramsdale
  • Kyle Walker
  • Reece James
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold
  • Luke Shaw
  • Jack Grealish

Barring an injury or a sudden loss of form, expect these 13 players to be heading to Qatar. Some of them will be starting, some of them will be playing a bit-part role. But such is England’s squad depth right now that you wouldn’t be confident betting your life on any of these stars being in the starting XI come the opening fixture. Like with the Euros, Southgate has another decision to make in terms of the right-back slot with Kyle Walker, Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold all included in this list. How can he leave any of them at home, though?

At left-back, Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell will do battle once again – although we think Chilwell has the upper hand this season.

In midfielder, there’s Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish all wanting a starting berth.

While the talented Bukayo Saka could also push for a start.

John Stones is almost certain to start but, with him not having a great season domestically for Manchester City, there’s an element of doubt there.

Jude Bellingham

Starting XI

  • Harry Maguire
  • Declan Rice
  • Jordan Pickford
  • Harry Kane
  • Raheem Sterling
  • Phil Foden

So, we reckon six players are nailed on to be starting in England’s World Cup campaign next summer.

Harry Maguire’s form for Manchester United has been questionable for he’s still England’s best defender.

Declan Rice is having a brilliant season for West Ham and there’s nobody better than him in that position right now.

Jordan Pickford is England’s No.1 – although Aaron Ramsale’s form for Arsenal may push him close.

Harry Kane is England’s captain and, regardless of him form for Tottenham this year, will be leading the line for England.

It’s a similar case for Raheem Sterling, who has had a difficult campaign for Man City. However, Southgate always relies on him and he has a terrific international record.

Meanwhile, we think Foden is also nailed on to start for the Three Lions whether that’s in a midfield three or a more advanced position. He’s got to be a starter.

Harry Kane

Final rankings

There we go, Gareth. We’ve done your job for you.

We’ve even picked six of your starting XI too. We’ll leave it up to the England manager to pick the rest of the side.

You may not totally agree with our rankings but one thing’s for sure: England have a very impressive squad heading to Qatar and Southgate has some tough decisions to make.

England squad

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