England at 2022 World Cup: Our writers pick their starting XI and squad for Qatar

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England have qualified for the World Cup following their 10-0 win over San Marino last night and attentions have turned to the tournament in Qatar next year.

There are still a number of selection issues for Gareth Southgate to sort out — so who would our writers include in their 23-man squad and who would make their starting XI?

Dan Kilpatrick

England XI (4-3-3): Pickford; James, Maguire, Stones, Chilwell; Rice, Bellingham, Foden; Grealish, Sterling, Kane.

Gareth Southgate this week emphasised the need for experience but I’ve gone for Jordan Henderson as the most high-profile casualty from the squad.

England proved in the summer they can cope without the Liverpool captain and this time next year Conor Gallagher could be a regular at Chelsea.

One Henderson could make the cut, however, if goalkeeper Dean can establish himself at Manchester United or elsewhere.

Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings can be upgraded as the understudies at centre-half, with former Chelsea academy graduates Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi well-placed if Joe Gomez’s struggles continue, while in midfield Jude Bellingham will surely break into the first XI.

Picking the forwards when restricted to 23 players is no easy job and much could depend on form.

Southgate would rather have had Mason Greenwood than Dominic Calvert-Lewin at the European Championship and the Manchester United man should return to contention in the New Year.

His club-mates Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford could easily be included, depending on form.

I’ve left Mason Mount out of the XI because Bellingham, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden are such big talents, and Raheem Sterling remains an important source of goals.

Squad

GKs: Pickford, Ramsdale, D. Henderson.

DFs: James, Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Chilwell, Shaw, Maguire, Stones, Tomori, Guehi.

MFs: Bellingham, Rice, Phillips, Mount, Gallagher.

STs: Kane, Sterling, Saka, Greenwood, Grealish, Foden.

James Robson

England XI (4-3-3): Pickford; James, Maguire, Stones, Shaw; Rice, Bellingham, Foden; Mount, Saka, Kane.

There is so much football to be played between now and the finals that this is not your ordinary look ahead after qualification has been sealed.

We have already seen how quickly the picture can change in the opening months of a season.

Smith Rowe and Gallagher are now right in the mix, while Sancho has dropped off the radar.

Who is to say who else will burst onto the scene over the next 12 months until Qatar?

For instance, if Trevoh Chalobah continues his progress, he could be a serious consideration as a versatile option in defence and midfield.

Smith Rowe may be undroppable by then.

But you suspect you know the bulk of Southgate’s squad, barring injury or a major drop in form.

I’ve left out Sancho, but if he finds his feet at Manchester United then he would surely be included.

I think the key to developing England is formation and a more expansive 4-3-3.

Bellingham, Rice and Foden would be a daunting midfield and also allow Southgate to fit in more creative players.

If he does go with four at the back, maybe I would have to rethink taking three right backs in James, Walker and Alexander-Arnold.

Squad

GKs: Pickford, Ramsdale, Johnstone.

DFs: James, Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Chilwell, Shaw, Maguire, Stones, Tomori, Chalobah.

MFs: Bellingham, Rice, Phillips, Mount, Foden.

FWs: Kane, Sterling, Saka, Greenwood, Grealish, Rashford.

Simon Collings

England XI (3-4-3): Pickford; James, Stones, Maguire; Alexander-Arnold, Bellingham, Rice, Chilwell; Foden, Kane, Sterling.

If the squad size is reduced down to 23 players, then Southgate really has a tough time on his hands picking who goes to Qatar.

This squad has some big casualties, namely Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, but they could easily make the plane if they find some form. England’s abundance of attackers mean Southgate is spoilt for choice.

Conor Gallagher and Emile Smith Rowe could sneak in, but the squad is so stacked it’s hard to find a place for them.

As for the starting XI, the back-three has served England well at major tournaments and it makes sense to stick with it. The same goes for Jordan Pickford in goal, who has been phenomenal when it matters most.

In defence, I think Reece James could come in to do Kyle Walker’s role, meaning Trent Alexander-Arnold can start. The left wing-back spot is a coin toss between Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw.

In midfield, Kalvin Phillips could easily start but I’d be keen to see Jude Bellingham given a chance if he’s in form.

Other than Harry Kane, the attacking sports are open but Phil Foden feels a must too. Raheem Sterling seems a good bet given his record on the big stage.

Squad

GKs: Pickford, Pope and Ramsdale.

DFs: Alexander-Arnold, Chilwell, James, Maguire, Shaw, Stones, Tomori, Walker, White.

MFs: Bellingham, Henderson, Mount, Phillips, Rice.

FWs: Calvert-Lewin, Foden, Grealish, Kane, Saka, Sterling.

Jack Rosser

England XI (4-3-3): Pickford; James, Maguire, Stones, Chilwell; Rice, Phillips, Mount; Foden, Kane, Sterling

Gareth Southgate has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to players fighting for a spot on the plane to Qatar, and one hell of a job whittling them down to one squad.

Jordan Pickford has some competition in goal from Aaron Ramsdale, following a fine start with Arsenal, while one would expect Dean Henderson to be in the reckoning should he leave Manchester United on loan in January.

Three centre-halves are complimented by Kyle Walker, while Joe Gomez could make a late run for the squad should he be able to stay fit.

Jordan Henderson is perhaps unfortunate to miss out but, on his current trajectory, Jude Bellingham could well be starting alongside Declan Rice, let alone getting in the squad. James Ward-Prowse, James Maddison and Conor Gallagher all have strong cases.

Among the forward ranks, Mason Greenwood - the most natural finisher after Harry Kane - gets in ahead of Jadon Sancho on current form while Emile Smith Rowe could nudge ahead of someone like Marcus Rashford if he continues to impress.

Squad

GKs: Pickford, Ramsdale, Henderson.

DFs: James, Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Tomori, Chilwell, Shaw.

MFs: Rice, Phillips, Bellingham, Mount.

FWs: Foden, Saka, Sterling, Greenwood, Grealish, Rashford, Kane, Abraham.

Malik Ouzia

England XI: (3-4-3): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; James, Bellingham, Rice, Chilwell; Foden, Kane, Sterling.

With a uniquely small gap between major tournaments and so little international football between now and the World Cup, this is not the time for major revolution and the bulk of the squad from the Euros remains.

Six players - Pickford, Stones, Maguire, Rice, Sterling and Kane - are sure of their places in the XI and Walker might not be far behind if the back-three stays. I’ve a feeling James and Chilwell will come to be viewed as a package at wing-back, so Shaw and Alexander-Arnold will have to work hard to break in.

Bellingham should usurp Phillips by the start of the tournament, while the third attacking option will end up form and opposition dependent - Foden edges it on the former while we don’t know the latter.

With the wider squad, I’ve stuck by the principle of not trying to get too clever and pinch a position, but should the likes of Sancho or Rashford hit form, or Smith Rowe continue his, Southgate may find it tough to resist sacrificing a defender for an extra player further up the pitch.

Squad

GKs: Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope.

DFs: Alexander-Arnold, James, Walker, Maguire, Stones, White, Tomori, Chilwell, Shaw.

MFs: Henderson, Rice, Bellingham, Phillips, Mount.

FWs: Sterling, Kane, Greenwood, Foden, Saka, Grealish.

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