We’re 99 days away from the start of the World Cup and that means it’s time for scattergun squad speculation.
Rickie Lambert, Stephen Warnock and a 17-year-old Theo Walcott have been the respective wild card picks in the last three England World Cup squads.
But which outsiders may end up holidaying in Russia this summer?
1 Ryan Sessegnon
Let’s start with the only Championship player in contention (sorry Scott Carson).
High-flying Fulham’s top scorer, 17-year-old Sessegnon has been converted from a left-back to a left-sided forward with tremendous results.
Forget the comparisons to Gareth Bale, Sessegnon is more like Thomas Muller, and Gareth Southgate would be taking a huge risk if he decided to thrust the youngster onto the biggest stage of them all… but he would be something of a secret weapon.
On the plane? Probably not but he’ll definitely play for England before his 20th birthday.
2 Glenn Murray
Blimey, has it come this?
Hang on, let’s not be so harsh on big Glenn, he has scored 11 Premier League goals this season after all.
Only Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy have scored more than Muzza from the centre-forward position (Englishmen only, obviously) and so if Southgate were to pick his squad purely on stats…
It’s just hard to shake the fact that he’s Glenn Murray, 34-year-old back-post bully.
On the plane? We’d like to think England have better options but in reality, it’s not out of the question.
3 James Tarkowski
Gone are the days of Terry, Ferdinand, Campbell, Carragher, Woodgate and King.
These days, John Stones is the only centre-back guaranteed a spot if he stays fit… maybe Harry Maguire as well.
The wobbling form of Chris Smalling and Michael Keane has left the door open for several ‘low-profile’ English centre-backs and Tarkowski is jumping up the pecking order on a weekly basis.
On the plane? Yeah, we reckon he is actually.
4 Lewis Dunk
So what if he’s scored a few own goals, get over it.
Brighton’s centre-back pairing of Dunk and Duffy have made the Amex Stadium something of a fortress.
On the plane? Has less of a chance than Tarkowski and Southgate won’t want too many uncapped defenders in the squad so it’s a no from us on this occasion.
5 Trent Alexander-Arnold
Kyle Walker has the right-back spot locked down but he’ll need an understudy.
Could Liverpool’s 19-year-old edge out Kieran Trippier?
On the plane? If Trips gets injured, yes; otherwise, nope
6 Alfie Mawson
Another centre-back from a team outside the top six who has deservedly earned himself plenty of admirers this season.
On the plane? Same situation as Dunk…
7 Jamaal Lascelles
On the plane? See above.
8 Leon Bailey
Woah, now we’re talking.
The Bayer Leverkusen winger can run 100m in 11 seconds and is close friends with definitely-on-the-plane Raheem Sterling.
The 20-year-old has been arguably the best player in the Bundesliga this season but there’s just one problem, nobody seems to know whether he’s actually eligible for England or not, including Bailey himself.
How hard can it be to find out?
On the plane? 100% if he’s allowed and up for it but don’t hold your breath
9 Lewis Cook
Here he is, the first English captain to lift a World Cup since Bobby Moore.
Bournemouth’s metronome led the Under-20s to glory in South Korea and has represented the Three Lions at every age youth level from Under-15s to Under-21s.
Highly-rated by coaches and scouts, his passing range has a Spanish accent, which is never a bad thing.
On the plane? It’s probably too soon but he’ll surely play for England at some point.
10 Jadon Sancho
An electric talent, the 17-year-old recently made the switch from Man City to Borussia Dortmund.
He’s already turned a few heads in Germany with his close control and willingness to take on defenders.
Phil Foden is unlikely to be afforded enough playing time at City to convince Southgate but the equally gifted Sancho may get a few more minutes when he returns from injury.
On the plane? Would be the equivalent of Walcott in 2006… Southgate doesn’t strike us as that sort of decision-maker, unfortunately.
11 Nick Pope
While the debate rages on about who should be England’s No1, Pope would be content with a place in the squad.
Burnley’s keeper has deputised for the crocked Tom Heaton with such authority he’s now immune from being dropped.
On the plane? Yes… unless Southgate wants to take Joe Hart along as third-choice just for his experience.
12 James Ward-Prowse
Unless you’re a Southampton fan, you’ve probably forgotten that Ward-Prowse has already played for England.
He came on for the last eight minutes against Germany in 2017.
Anyway, he’s a consistent performer with sumptuous set-piece delivery and let’s be honest, he’s better than Jake Livermore.
On the plane? We’ve been doing this a while now and have gone a bit loopy so it’s hard to tell. No, we think…
13 Peter Crouch
He wouldn’t, would he?
Crouchy; the morale-lifting robot, 22 goals in 42 international games, more headed goals in the Prem than anyone else, 37-years-young and with more limbs than you can keep track of.
On the plane? No — because there’s no justice in this cruel world.
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