Why Conor Gallagher made England’s World Cup squad

Conor Gallagher's Chelsea form was not the reason why he is going to the World Cup with England.

The 22-year-old's inclusion was perhaps the second biggest surprise from Gareth Southgate's announcement on Thursday, behind the popular pick of James Maddison. Gallagher appears to have been given the nod ahead of Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse despite being left out of the last selection and dropping into the Under-21s.

That demotion was, in part, down to his struggles returning from his various loan spells under Thomas Tuchel. Under new Blues manager Graham Potter, Gallagher has had a slight uplift in form. Gallagher still, though, has only one goal, one assist and one red card to his name this term, and has started only five of Chelsea's 20 games in all competitions.

Southgate and his technical staff at the FA, though, have seen enough over the years to agree Gallagher warrants to place on that plane to Qatar. They know that Gallagher has the unique ability to run and press with speed, along with the intelligence and stamina to make him different from everyone else in England’s midfield.

Southgate said at St George's Park: “He's a good player. I think he's an easy one to underestimate because you can get players that look really smooth and you can get players that scurry around the pitch and he's a bit of a scurrier but he scores goals, he makes goals, he makes life difficult for the opponent and in certain games he's going to be more suitable than others.

"Also, he is fantastic at pressing the ball. There are going to be moments in these games where we are going to need different attributes. There are any number of players in this squad with different attributes to utilise at those moments. We feel he could be that sort of a player.

"I also thought he dealt really responsibly with the decision last time that he would benefit from more football and going with the under-21s, his attitude was impeccable."