Which uncapped players are making a late push for a 2018 World Cup spot?

Someone always comes from nowhere to light up the World Cup

What comes around every four years, gets everyone talking but, in the end, is a major disappointment?

A leap year, of course. There’s also the World Cup, which is rapidly approaching.

So which players are making a late dash to make sure they’re on the plane rather than sat watching at home with the rest of us?

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Leap years. Just like World Cups, kind of

Willian Jose (Real Sociedad & Brazil)

Willian Jose might well be the least known Real Madrid player ever.

The Brazilian played one game for Madrid during the 2013/14 season before moving on to Las Palmas and then Real Sociedad.

He’s settled at the latter and has 16 goals in 28 games this season, including strikes against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

Gerard Pique had him in his pocket

James Tarkowski (Burnley & England/Poland)

Burnley could be playing in Europe next season. Let that sink in for a season.

One of the main reasons why Sean Dyche could be sampling foreign worms is 25-year-old defender Tarkowski.

If England pass on him then he could turn out for Poland, according to the bible of truth that is Wikipedia.

The saddest roller coaster picture of all time

Leon Bailey (Bayer Leverkusen & England)

The best thing to come out of Jamaican football since Robbie Earle could be eligible to play for England due to ‘English ancestry’.

He’s been capped by Jamaica’s Under-23 side but has rejected following call ups to the senior squad in order to keep his options open.

If we were Gareth Southgate we’d be straight on

Sign him up Southgate

Mariano (Lyon & Spain)

Mariano is a one-cap wonder for Dominican Republic but given that was a friendly he’s still eligible for Spain, as he was born in Premia de Mar.

Having spent the last six seasons playing for Real Madrid’s reserve sides Mariano branched out and moved to Lyon in the summer.

He’s scored 15 times in all competitions this season, helping Lyon fans forget all about a certain Alexandre Lacazette.

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He’s going to do a Diego Costa in reserve

Malcom (Bordeaux & Brazil)

[Insert Malcolm in the Middle gag even though that’s not how you spell his name]

Brazil are severely lacking for creativity in attack. They’ve only got Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Douglas Costa, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus.

Thankfully Malcom is having the season of his life in France.

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A fairly standard way of finishing when you’re Brazilian

Houssem Aouar (Lyon & France)

Want to see football made simple? Just watch Lyon’s ludicrously talented 19-year-old Aouar.

The versatile midfielder has a bit of everything and has played in six different positions for Lyon this season.

But he’s no James Milner. In fact he’s dripping with on-pitch charisma.

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Strike a pose

Philipp Max (Augsburg & Germany)

Max’s figures of 10 assists in 22 Bundesliga games would be good by any standards.

But when you factor in the fact he plays left-back for Augsburg his figures become seriously impressive.

The 24-year-old is timing his World Cup run to perfection.

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You can’t see him because he’s camouflaged by the grass

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