England 2018 World Cup squad: Who's on the plane, who's in contention, who's set to miss out?

Sports Staff
The Independent

The World Cup is almost upon us, with England manager Gareth Southgate set to name his 23-man squad on Wednesday.

The likes of Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling are guaranteed a seat on the plane to Russia but the same can’t be said for a number of their England teammates.

From Jack Wilshere to Gary Cahill, it’s unclear what the future holds for these players and it’s likely that tomorrow’s announcement will throw up a couple of surprises as Southgate prepares for his side’s first game on Monday 18 June.

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With this in mind, we ask who’s assured a seat on the place, who is in contention and who’s set to miss out entirely?


Harry Kane

England’s best player, chief scoring threat and a potential captain, Kane is of paramount importance. Were he to miss out through injury, an attack that has struggled for goals under Southgate would only look dangerously blunt.

Dele Alli

Despite not enjoying a vintage year at Tottenham, Alli still managed to showcase his talent in flashes of brilliance throughout the season. On form, he is capable of tying England’s disjointed attack together and making up for its lack of invention.

Eric Dier

Perhaps Southgate’s most important player on the defensive side of the ball, Dier also offers versatility and could be Southgate’s central figure in either the backline or in midfield. Questions remain over him at the elite level, as seen in some of Tottenham’s notable high-profile defeats.

Dier holds a key role in Southgate's side (Getty Images)
Dier holds a key role in Southgate's side (Getty Images)

Raheem Sterling

Sterling enjoyed a superb season at Manchester City. Though his finishing can be erratic, he regularly puts himself in prime scoring positions and should be considered as something of a match-winner in Russia.

Kyle Walker

His display as a right-sided centre-half against the Netherlands earlier this year was encouraging, but Southgate would be wise to play the Premier League’s outstanding right back in his optimum position. Nonetheless, Walker will be key if England are to make the most of their wing-back formation.

Ashley Young

Young earned Jose Mourinho’s trust as a makeshift left-back this season and, though far from a natural in the position, has impressed with his maturity and reading of the game. An authoritative figure who Southgate will want to lead by example. Could also fill in on the right if necessary.

John Stones

Southgate wants his three-man defence to play out of the back and Stones will be integral to that. Injury in November disrupted a fine start to the season and he still suffers from poor lapses in concentration. He may have fallen out of favour under Pep Guardiola but he still has plenty to offer England.

Jordan Henderson

Kane’s main rival for captain’s armband, Henderson is not universally popular but does offer better vision and a greater range of passing than he is often credited for. Perhaps better deployed as a midfield ‘runner’ than a ‘sitter’.

Jordan Pickford

The leading candidate in the race to be England's No 1, if only because he has been slightly less error-prone than his rivals for the jersey. His performance against the Netherlands was generally encouraging. One of the few Everton signings who didn’t flop over the past season.

Jack Butland

A strong competitor to Pickford for the No 1 jersey. Definitely done enough to book his flight to Russia.

Jamie Vardy

Comfortably seen as England’s second-choice striker and cover for Kane, though his radically different style of play raises questions. May not be suited when up against deep-set defences in the group stage.

Marcus Rashford

Another player to have blown hot and cold this season, but given what he’s capable of his inclusion on the plane is all but guaranteed. His limited game time under Mourinho may play in his favour, leaving him fresh and ready to prove a point in Russia.

Jesse Lingard

Deserving of a place after an excellent year at Old Trafford, Lingard’s cause was helped no end by his winning goal in Amsterdam. Having worked to iron out the inconsistencies in his game, he is capable of pulling a rabbit from a hat and seems to relish playing in important matches.

Kieran Trippier

Walker’s surprise deployment as a right-sided centre-half against the Netherlands was a significant boost to Trippier’s chances, though he could still miss out if Southgate uses Walker’s versatility to free up a slot elsewhere in the squad. Faces competition from Alexander-Arnold, though his experience may put him ahead of the Liverpudlian in the pecking order.

Nick Pope

With Joe Hart ruled out of the squad, Pope is set to be handed the third goalkeeper spot in Southgate’s squad.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

The youngster has enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent months, helping fire Liverpool to their first Champions League final in 11 years. His inexperience could play against him in Russia but given the fearlessness he’s showcased for Liverpool this season, Southgate is willing to hand the 19-year-old a chance.

Trent Alexander-Arnold has risen to prominence at Liverpool this season (Getty)
Trent Alexander-Arnold has risen to prominence at Liverpool this season (Getty)

In contention

Harry Maguire

Carries the ball out the back, distributes it well and also provides an intimidating physical presence. Maguire’s inexperience at the top level counts against him but has done little wrong when called upon so far.

Adam Lallana

Still highly thought of by Southgate and would add some much-needed guile to England’s attack, but Lallana’s lack of football this season is a concern and he remains some way off his best.

Jack Wilshere

England’s dearth of midfield invention means Wilshere was always likely to be considered and his resurgence at Arsenal this season suggests the 26-year-old still has something to offer Southgate. Still, his disposition for injuries and questions over whether he can play a string of games in quick succession makes him an outside bet.

Will Southgate gamble on Wilshere? (AFP/Getty Images)
Will Southgate gamble on Wilshere? (AFP/Getty Images)

Danny Rose

Once a shoe-in at left wing-back, Rose’s injury struggles and troubles at Tottenham have made things more uncertain. At his peak, inclusion in Southgate’s squad would have been guaranteed.

Ryan Bertrand

Forced out of England’s March friendlies through injury but an underrated full-back and well-suited to an attacking role on the left flank. Impressed on the overlap in last year’s friendly against France and should not be overlooked because of Southampton’s struggles this season. Faces stiff competition from Young.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Another young player who has his advocates within the England set-up, Loftus-Cheek’s momentum was broken by an ankle injury that sidelined the Crystal Palace loanee for three months. His performance in November’s draw with Germany at Wembley has not been forgotten, however.


Gary Cahill

Knows how to play in a three-man defence and would bring experience to a youthful backline, but his omission from England’s recent friendlies, lack of minutes at Chelsea and the versatility of Walker make his selection for Russia unlikely.

Danny Welbeck

Arsene Wenger backed the forward for a World Cup call-up last month but it remains to be seen what Southgate thinks of the 27-year-old. Showed his worth with a brace against AC Milan for Arsenal, but there’s serious doubts over whether or not Welbeck offers the full package.

Has Welbeck done enough to earn a call-up? (Getty)
Has Welbeck done enough to earn a call-up? (Getty)

Phil Jones

His injury record is a concern for Southgate and it’s unclear whether or not he has the means to adapt to Southgate’s 3-5-2-1 system.

Jake Livermore

A regular in Southgate’s squads but likely to lose out in the final analysis due to that lack of midfield creativity. Dier and Henderson can both adequately fill defensive-minded roles in the middle of the park and the West Bromwich Albion man offers little different.

Lewis Cook

One for who Russia has perhaps come too soon. His progressive passing from midfield should be of value in tournaments to come if he makes good on his potential.

Ryan Sessegnon

His performances for Fulham have attracted plenty of attention, with the youngster setting alight the Championship with his pace and intelligent movement. At just 17 years of age, Sessegnon has a lot to learn but Southgate could be tempted to blood the youngster.

Has Russia 2018 come too soon for Ryan Sessegnon? (Getty)
Has Russia 2018 come too soon for Ryan Sessegnon? (Getty)

Jadon Sancho

Another English young gun making waves – albeit in Germany. In 684 minutes of Bundesliga football, the youngster has been involved in five goals and dazzled with his quick feet. Another outside chance.

Down and out

Jonjo Shelvey

Newcastle fans believe Shelvey is more than deserving of a seat on the plane to Russia in light of his recent form for the Magpies. The midfielder has been one of Newcastle’s brightest stars this season, with his range of passing and vision helping to pull the side clear of the relegation zone. But due to his disciplinary record, it’s believed Southgate isn’t even considering the 26-year-old. A crying shame given what he can offer.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Oxlade-Chamberlain has steadily rebuilt his career since joining Liverpool, and put in some mightily impressive performances in the Champions League, but a heart-breaking injury cut his season short. Ruled out for the World Cup, the player will be forced to watch England’s campaign from afar.

Joe Hart

Given the chop by Southgate on Monday when he was informed he won’t be featuring at this year’s World Cup. End of an era for the former City ‘keeper.

Gareth Southgate has told Joe Hart he won’t be included (Getty)
Gareth Southgate has told Joe Hart he won’t be included (Getty)

Alfie Mawson

The Swansea defender underwent successful knee surgery on Monday and will not be going to the World Cup with England.

Chris Smalling

Southgate has made it perfectly clear what he thinks of the Manchester United defender. He ‘ain’t going nowhere.

Joe Gomez

Will miss the World Cup with England after undergoing ankle surgery. The 20-year-old’s season was brought to an end after an operation to correct a long-standing ankle injury.

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