Sky Sports writers’ votes combined to assemble England squad for World Cup in Qatar; players listed in rank order, with Harry Maguire losing starting berth and Jude Bellingham replacing Kalvin Phillips as regular partner with Declan Rice in midfield; what happens if Harry Kane is injured?
By Sky Sports Football
Tuesday 27 September 2022 17:29, UK
Which players should make the 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar and who’s first on the plane?
Following the conclusion of England’s dismal Nations League campaign, the composition of England’s World Cup squad is bound to be the dominant talking point through the next month before Gareth Southgate names his provisional selection on October 20.
On Tuesday, Sky Sports will publish its updated England World Cup squad ladder, the second in a weekly series ranking the top 40 contenders all the way up to Southgate’s announcement.
But before that, 20 Sky Sports journalists – including Sky Sports News’ Rob Dorsett, Melissa Reddy and Ben Ransom – were asked to rank the top 40 contenders themselves
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
And there were a number of controversial collective outcomes from the compilation.
Would, for instance, the Sky Sports collective take Harry Maguire?
Perhaps surprisingly, the answer came back as a resounding yes – with 14 out of 20 selecting Maguire despite the Manchester United defender struggling to find form and playing just 190 league minutes for Manchester United this term.
2022 World Cup: Teams, schedule, venues
World Cup fixtures
World Cup tables
Latest World Cup news
But in a reflection of England’s recent defensive woes, there was only one defender ranked in the collective top ten – and that was John Stones, who lasted just 30 minutes against Germany on Monday before suffering a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, with Jordan Pickford understandably featuring prominently in every squad, the identity of his understudy remains uncertain with Nick Pope overtaken by Aaron Ramsdale in the collective squad.
Despite Pope’s struggles against Germany, only two of our journalists selected Dean Henderson instead of him in their 26.
And what of Trent Alexander-Arnold?
Regularly overlooked by Southgate and then jettisoned altogether from Monday’s matchday squad, 85 per cent of our writers backed the full-back among the 26 they would take to Qatar.
But with no fewer than six recognised full-backs featuring in the collective squad, it’s clear that there remains huge uncertainty about England’s optimal selections in this area.
In midfield, though, there was far greater clarity with Declan Rice and Borussia Dortmund teenage sensation Jude Bellingham picked in every journalist’s squad.
But who should be on the plane as cover for Bellingham and Rice?
Here, the team were split. Jordan Henderson was selected in every squad, but Kalvin Phillips was only picked by 14 of our journalists while James Ward-Prowse was selected by 13.
Out wide, there were, as you might expect, popular inclusions for the likes of Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Mason Mount, all of whom were named in all 20 squads.
One journalist opted not to include Jack Grealish, while Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho received 14 and 11 votes respectively.
And finally, in both a worrying and reassuring selection, only three strikers featured in the selection debate – with Harry Kane’s pre-eminence meaning the team made the England captain the only out-and-out striker in their collective top 20, with Tammy Abraham at 21st and Ivan Toney 28th.
Gareth Southgate will be able to select up to 26 players for the World Cup in Qatar, but you can use our interactive team selector to build a 23-man England squad and share your selection on Twitter @SkyFootball.
You’ve picked your squad, but what would your England starting XI look like if the World Cup started today and all players were available? Use our interactive selector to pick your team below.
Super 6 is back, bigger and better than ever with a £250,000 jackpot. Play for free.
© 2022 Sky UK