England World Cup 2022 Squad: Who will be on the plane to Qatar?

We look at the potential candidates for England’s World Cup squad and who needs to still convince Gareth Southgate.

By James Descombes Published: 16 September 2022 - 4.33pm

With the 2022/23 season bringing us the first-ever winter World Cup, it gives players on the cusp of the England squad a few extra months to impress the boss.

And with a few more weeks of high-intensity Premier League action before the big kick off in Qatar, Gareth Southgate may have to contend with one or two injury headaches too.

We take a look at who’s likely to book their place on the plane and who’s waiting in the wings to grab their opportunity.

With 26 spots to play for we may even get one or two surprises. 

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Goalkeepers

Jordan Pickford saving a shot during England training

Most managers usually take three goalkeepers along for the ride. This was even the case when squads were limited to 23 places. Seeing as the third-choice stopper is unlikely to get anywhere near the starting line-up, it might be worth taking a risk and just taking two. But we can’t see Southgate doing that, he’s far too sensible. 

On the plane

Everton’s Jordan Pickford has been England’s number one for a few years now and that’s unlikely to change for this World Cup.

As Arsenal’s number one, Aaron Ramsdale should expect to make the plane to Qatar. He impressed in goal when England played out a scoreless tie against Italy in the Nations League in June, but the he shipped four against Hungary a few days later.

In the departure lounge

Despite Burnley’s relegation last season, the form of keeper Nick Pope helped give them a fighting chance of staying up. His move to Newcastle, and strong start to life in the north east, keeps him in the Premier League and should strengthen his case for a spot in the squad.

Other contenders: Sam Johnstone (Crystal Palace), Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Fraser Forster (Tottenham Hotspur). 

Defenders

Reece James playing for England against Hungary

On the plane

Southgate has hinted that the experienced and pacey right-back, Kyle Walker, will make the squad. He revealed that the Man City man’s leadership will be fundamental for England at this year’s tournament.

Chelsea’s Reece James will be vying with Walker for that starting spot, though Southgate has previously played Walker on the right and James on the left in the same side. 

In the heart of defence, Southgate has stood by Harry Maguire, despite the Manchester United captain losing his place at club level. Maguire is likely to continue at centre-back alongside Manchester City’s John Stones or AC Milan’s Fiyako Tomori.

In the departure lounge

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold missed the last Euros through injury and doesn’t always make Southgate’s starting 11. That said, his club form and deadly delivery into the box could prove vital, so expect him to book his ticket.

Kieran Trippier, who played a big part in steering Newcastle to safety last season before picking up an injury, is probably feeling quietly confident that he’ll make the cut too.

On the left-hand side both Luke Shaw (Manchester United) and Ben Chilwell (Chelsea) have previously impressed for England before picking up long-term injuries. If they can start the season well, their returns could be a godsend for Southgate.

At centre-back, Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa) and Conor Coady (Wolves) have put in consistent performances for both club and country. They’ve proved they can be relied on and Southgate is likely to remain loyal to the pair.

Other contenders: Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Ben White (Arsenal), Marc Guéhi (Crystal Place), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Aaron Cresswell (West Ham), Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton), Tyrick Mitchell (Crystal Palace) 

Midfielders

Declan Rice playing for England

On the plane

Despite not playing much due to injury, Kalvin Phillips' move to Manchester City should help him cement his centre-midfield role in the England setup, where he’s formed a great understanding with West Ham’s Declan Rice. The duo will likely be key to any England success.

So who’s going to provide the creativity in midfield? Southgate has lots of options in attack. Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jude Bellingham (Dortmund), Mason Mount (Chelsea) and Bukayo Sako (Arsenal) are all likely to need their passports this winter.

In the departure lounge

James Ward-Prowse’s (Southampton) set-piece ability gives England a deadly weapon that could come in handy against more stubborn defences. He didn't make the Euro 2020 squad, but has made most of the squads since. 

Conor Gallagher impressed last season in a Palace shirt, forcing his way into England’s recent Nations League squad. If he can break into the team at Chelsea under new boss Graham Potter, he’ll fancy his chances of making the plane.

Other contenders: Jadon Sancho (Manchester United), James Maddison (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Emile Smith-Rowe (Arsenal).

Forwards

Harry Kane celebrating a goal for England with Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham

On the plane

By the time England captain Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) leads the nation to the 2022 World Cup, he could already have cemented his place as the country’s top goalscorer. And Kane loves a golden boot, so will be determined to play (and score) in every one of England’s matches in Qatar.

Kane’s likely to have Raheem Sterling (Chelsea) playing alongside him, supplying balls into the box for him to snap up. Despite not always getting the plaudits, Sterling is one of England’s best performers and was key during England’s last Euros campaign.

In the departure lounge

While Harry Kane is sure to start for England, we’ll need an option off the bench or someone to lead the line if Kane were to pick up an injury. The front runner for that spot is currently Tammy Abraham, who’s impressed during his time at Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

During the last Euros the country was clamouring for Jack Grealish (Manchester City) to start. But since his £100m move to Manchester City, things have calmed down a bit. For England, Grealish is often brought on from the bench when defences are tiring. It’s proved effective, and even if Southgate doesn’t find a place for Jack in his starting 11 he’s surely got to make the 26-man squad.

Other contenders: Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa), Patrick Bamford (Leeds United), Danny Ings (Aston Villa), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Callum Wilson (Newcastle United).