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Leave out Maguire and Sancho, take White and Maddison - the England squad Southgate must pick for the World Cup

12:00 PM GMT+4 10/11/2022
Harry Maguire Jadon Sancho England 2022-23 HIC 16:9
Ahead of Gareth Southgate naming his squad for Qatar on Thursday, GOAL has picked our own 26-man Three Lions roster

The wait is nearly over. On Thursday we will finally know the England squad that Gareth Southgate has picked to take with him to the World Cup.

The Three Lions get their campaign under way in Qatar with a match against Iran on November 21.

So, who should make the final cut and be in the England squad as they go in search of World Cup glory?

We asked GOAL's Charles Watts to select the players he wants to see on the plane to Qatar.

Here’s the 26-man squad he went for...

  • Jordan Pickford England 2021

    Goalkeepers in

    Injuries permitting, this is a relatively easy one.

    Jordan Pickford has been Gareth Southgate’s long-term No.1 and he has always proven to be a dependable keeper when he’s been in an England shirt.

    He did go through a poor patch not so long ago at club level, but his performances for Everton have been much better of late.

    So, given he’s in good form for his club and he has a very good understanding with his team-mates at international level, he deserves to be Southgate’s first choice keeper in Qatar.

    Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope are then the two keepers to provide back-up for Pickford.

  • Dean Henderson; Nottingham Forest; 2022-23

    Goalkeepers out

    Dean Henderson may have had a decent start with Nottingham Forest this season, making two good penalty saves during the early weeks of the season. But he is definitely behind the other three and should be staying at home, barring any late injury issues.

    Sam Johnstone was in the reckoning not so long ago, but he’s not even getting games for Crystal Palace at the moment, so the 29-year-old doesn’t even come into consideration now.

  • Ben White Arsenal

    Defenders in

    I’ll get this straight out there, Harry Maguire should not be in the squad.

    I know Gareth Southgate trusts him and Maguire has been excellent for England over the past couple of years, but that does not mean he should travel to the World Cup.

    His form for Manchester United has been awful for a long time now, so much so that he barely even starts in the Premier League anymore.

    He's a mistake waiting to happen, as he demonstrated perfectly during the second half against Germany during England's final warm-up game.

    It’s just impossible to justify taking Maguire at the moment, especially over defenders who are playing week in, week out and are performing at a very high level.

    Indeed, I’d be taking Ben White, without a doubt. He’s been excellent for Arsenal, even if it has been at right-back this season. Fikayo Tomori would also make it, along with John Stones, Eric Dier and Conor Coady.

    At full-back, I would take Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, who would also be a centre-back option in a 3-5-2, along with Luke Shaw. Trippier could deputise at left-back if needs be, following Ben Chilwell's injury that will rule him out of the tournament.

    Although Alexander-Arnold has never really replicated his club form at international level, I just can’t leave someone that good going forward out of a squad that has struggled for creativity for some time now.

  •  Reece James Chelsea 2022-23

    Defenders out

    Reece James has not yet been officially ruled as he continues his come back from injury, but given his lack of game time recently and the fact he hasn't even been able to train, it's no surprise to see it being reported that he will not be heading to Qatar.

    It's a shame for James as he would have been a guaranteed starter had it not been for the injury, but you can't take a player who has been out for so long, even if there is a slight chance he could be back for the knockout stages of the tournament.

    As I stated before, Harry Maguire should certainly be staying behind in my view and I'd also leave Marc Guehi out, even though it would be another tough decision.

  • Jude Bellingham England 2022

    Midfielders in

    Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are two absolute musts, they would both be starting for me.

    If there were still any doubters over Bellingham's credentials before September's games against Italy and Germany, there surely can't be any left now after hisdynamic displays.

    Mason Mount would also get the call, even if he hasn’t quite hit the heights this season with Chelsea that he did in 2021-22.

    Jordan Henderson – who would be just as important behind the scenes as he would be on the pitch – will make it, while Jack Grealish has to go and could make a real difference for England.

    The brilliant Phil Foden is another no-brainer. He hasn’t produced his best performances yet while in an England shirt, but I think he could star playing alongside Bellingham just behind the forward line in a 4-3-3.

    I would also be taking James Maddison. There is simply no footballing reason not to take the Leicester City man, given his form over the past two seasons.

    I'm not saying he will come in and be England's saviour. But not taking him would be incredibly harsh, given his performances and goal contributions for the Foxes.

  • Kalvin Phillips England

    Midfielders out

    Kalvin Phillips has played himself out of the World Cup squad. Even if it seems as if he has recovered from his shoulder injury just in time, he’s not had enough football this season to warrant a place in the squad.

    I’d also leave out James Ward-Prowse. Clearly, he is a good player and his ability from dead-ball situations is excellent. But there are others in that squad who are good from set pieces and the likelihood of Ward-Prowse getting minutes is very slim.

  • Harry Kane England Italy 2022

    Forwards in

    Obviously, Harry Kane is a given. The Spurs striker is by far and away England’s best forward and any hope of having a successful World Cup rests on his shoulders.

    I would then take Tammy Abraham, Ivan Toney and Calum Wilson to provide cover for Kane in the central striking role.

    Abraham has been a huge success in Italy and deserves his place on the plane for what he has achieved after making the move to Roma from Chelsea.

    And Toney has been excellent for Brentford, proving himself to be a real threat at Premier League level. The same goes for Wilson, who has been very impressive of late for Newcastle.

    None of that trio are particularly fast, though, and you always want pace in your attack, so I would also bring Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.

    Rashford could provide something a bit different off the bench if needed and Sterling’s record at international level speaks for itself.

    Bukayo Saka has to go and showed exactly what he can do against Germany in September when used in his proper position on the right side of the attack, rather than being wasted at left wing-back as we saw against Italy.

  • Jadon Sancho Manchester United goal 2022-23

    Forwards out

    England aren’t exactly blessed with back-up for Kane, so there aren’t really many to leave out.

    Ollie Watkins hasn’t done enough with Aston Villa this season to throw his hat into the ring, and the same goes for Danny Ings.

    Dominic Calvert-Lewin isn't even close anymore due to his injuries and nor is Patrick Bamford.

    Jadon Sancho had started the season quite well with United, but with Saka, Sterling, Rashford, Grealish, Foden and Mount in the squad, he really isn’t needed.

    Jarrod Bowen is another player who just hasn’t done enough to make it.

  • England XI

    How England should line up at the 2022 World Cup

    My ideal formation for England at the World Cup would be 4-3-3. Playing three at the back is an option and the system that Southgate will no doubt opt for, but playing with a flat back four should be the priority to try and get the most out of the attacking players in the squad.

    Pickford gets the nod in goal, then I’d have a centre-back pairing of Stones and White – who are both excellent at carrying the ball out from the back and progressing play.

    Shaw would be my pick at left-back given Chilwell's injury, with Kieran Tripper on the opposite side. The Newcastle man has just edged ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold due to his superb form this season.

    In front of the back four, I would have Rice as the holding midfielder, with Bellingham and Foden in the more advanced central midfield roles. Both are brilliant in possession, but offer slightly difference skill sets in terms of joining the attack.

    Then, up front, I would have Kane as the central striker, with Sterling on the left and Saka on the right.