Sunday, July 3

England’s World Cup 2022 squad: Who’s on the plane?

The 2022 World Cup is under a year away, and England are among the favourites to go all the way in Qatar.

After going so close at Euro 2020, Gareth Southgate’s men have to be considered one of the best teams at FIFA’s showpiece event next winter.

But who should be in the 23-man squad to go to Qatar? It’s time for the return of 90min’s ‘Who’s on the Plane’ series…

Nick PopeNick Pope

Pope missed Euro 2020 with injury / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

It’s hard to have any strong feelings over the selection of the third-choice goalkeeper, but Nick Pope just about gets the nod over Sam Johnstone and Dean Henderson for now because he currently plays regularly in the Premier League.

Tyrone MingsTyrone Mings

Mings is Aston Villa captain / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Tyrone Mings hugely benefits from three key factors – he’s massive, he’s left-footed and he’s a leader. Hardly an amazing defender, his spot on the plane is certainly up for grabs – not least from club teammate Ezri Konsa.

Emile Smith RoweEmile Smith Rowe

Smith Rowe has been a joy to watch / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Even the most diehard of Arsenal fans have been surprised with just how good Emile Smith Rowe has been this season, and is probably the Gunners’ player of the year thus far. He’s even made his senior England debut and scored for the Three Lions, working his way into Southgate’s good books.

Luke ShawLuke Shaw

Shaw’s form has nosedived this season / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

Luke Shaw’s stock at the time of his goal in the Euro 2020 final had soared to Jupiter – there was a genuine case that he was the best left-back in the world.

But he’s been brought crashing back to earth this season and has a fight on his hands to keep Alex Telles out of the Man Utd team – if he falls out of favour then he may have to forego his seat on the plane, too.

Now free of shoulder pain following surgery, we’re still waiting to see Marcus Rashford explode into life again this term.

We’re not doubting him, it’d just be nice to see him firing again.

John StonesJohn Stones

Stones has scarcely featured for Man City this season / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

After working his way back into Manchester City’s starting XI last season, it seems that Pep Guardiola would now prefer Aymeric Laporte to partner Ruben Dias instead of John Stones.

Nevertheless, he remains one of Southgate’s best options at centre-back.

mason greenwoodmason greenwood

Southgate rates Greenwood highly / Chloe Knott – Danehouse/GettyImages

Southgate has been intent on managing Mason Greenwood’s development and values the youngster highly – he was on the initial 26-man list to go to the Euros and may have even taken a penalty in the final shootout if he were fit.

Bukayo SakaBukayo Saka

Saka has stepped up for Arsenal / Chloe Knott – Danehouse/GettyImages

Bukayo Saka is an international manager’s dream, being able to play in various positions across the pitch to a high standard.

Memories of that penalty miss are strong, but wrongfully gloss over how useful he was at the Euros as a whole.

Aaron RamsdaleAaron Ramsdale

Ramsdale has quickly become a fan favourite at Arsenal / Stu Forster/GettyImages

If you saw Aaron Ramsdale’s Arsenal renaissance coming, you’re a liar. Bloke’s been playing out of his skin after conceding about 200 goals in the last two seasons.

Still, at least Jordan Pickford has some competition (both for his spot and for the vibes he brings to the squad).

Away from the harsh Premier League spotlight, Jude Bellingham has established himself as one of the very best players in the Bundesliga.

Who knows just how good the teenager will be by the time the World Cup rolls around…

Jack GrealishJack Grealish

Grealish left boyhood club Aston Villa after Euro 2020 / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Sure, Jack Grealish probably isn’t worth £100m and isn’t standing out as much at Man City, but he’s still top class and brings an X-factor that few other Englishmen can.

Harry MaguireHarry Maguire

Maguire was immense at the Euros / Stephen Pond/GettyImages

Harry Maguire has been disappointing this season. He’s still quite easily England’s best option at centre-back.

Kyle WalkerKyle Walker

Triple H vibes / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

Kyle Walker’s experience, recovery pace and versatility in a back three mean that he has to be on the plane.

Ben ChilwellBen Chilwell

Chilwell’s shone for Chelsea this season / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Shaw may have wrestled the England left-back spot from Ben Chilwell last year, but the Chelsea man has taken it back after a superb start to the 2021/22 campaign.

Jordan Henderson - Soccer PlayerJordan Henderson - Soccer Player

Henderson is one of the most senior players in the England setup / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Father Time and injuries may be catching up with Jordan Henderson – the latter restricted his involvement at thee Euros – but Southgate still depends on him as one of his most senior options in a young England team.

Jordan PickfordJordan Pickford

Pickford was sensational at Euro 2020 / Visionhaus/GettyImages

A stunning Euro 2020 – which may have seen him win the Player of the Tournament award rather than Gianluigi Donnarumma if the penalty shootout went the other way – elevated Jordan Pickford in the eyes of England fans.

He’s number one unless his form falls off a cliff.

While he didn’t set the world alight at the Euros, Declan Rice has quietly been one of the best players in the Premier League since the summer.

Whether he’s at West Ham or a club competing for the top honours, he needs to be on the plane.

Reece JamesReece James

Unorthodox but whatever / Clive Mason/GettyImages

Reece James’ all-action beginning to the new campaign have seen him draw comparisons to Steven Gerrard.

He’s a right-back. Unbelievable.

Mason MountMason Mount

Mount is a favourite for club and country / Clive Mason/GettyImages

It doesn’t usually matter what role Mason Mount is playing – he’ll find a way to make teams better and make the players around him fit together.

Trent Alexander-ArnoldTrent Alexander-Arnold

Alexander-Arnold is back to his best / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Remember when there was a debate over whether Trent Alexander-Arnold should even be in the England squad?

Funny times. The right-back is back to his best and scaring defenders more than ever before.

Phil FodenPhil Foden

Foden’s versatility is a huge plus / Visionhaus/GettyImages

In terms of talent, Phil Foden should be mentioned in the same breath as Wayne Rooney and Paul Gascoigne.

Hell, he’s even building a CV to compare with them, too. One of the Premier League’s best players that can play anywhere in a forward line and in midfield.

Raheem SterlingRaheem Sterling

Sterling has been linked with Barcelona / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Here’s a thought – if Man City had won the Champions League and England had won Euro 2020, would Raheem Sterling have been on the Ballon d’Or podium?

It’s hard to argue against it. He’s easily one of the players Southgate relies on most.

Harry KaneHarry Kane

Kane is close to becoming England’s record goalscorer / Visionhaus/GettyImages

England captain – whether you like it or not.

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