England manager Gareth Southgate can name 26 players in his Three Lions squad for the World Cup later this year after FIFA approved an increase in squad sizes from 23. It will ease Southgate’s selection headache as he prepares to go one better than reaching the Euro 2020 final.
FIFA’s decision, which follows the 26-man squads allowed at the European Championship last summer, will also be good news for some players who might have feared not travelling to Qatar in November. Express Sport picks out four players who will be more hopeful of being included now that a larger squad is allowed.
As of now, Harry Maguire is a mainstay in the England team and his place in the World Cup squad seems incredibly secure. The Manchester United captain is a favourite of Southgate’s due to his ability to play out of defence.
But some reports suggest that new Red Devils head coach Erik ten Hag is unsure about Maguire’s ability. In the most disastrous scenario for the former Sheffield United ace, he could find game time hard to come by in the run-up to the World Cup.
Southgate has been known to pick players who are in form and playing well for their clubs. Jesse Lingard is an example of a player who is rated by Southgate but has failed to make squads recently due to a lack of game time at United, and Maguire does not want to follow in his former club team-mate’s steps.
Another player who would be a certainty to make the World Cup squad if it was based purely on club form, Abraham finds himself in a similar position to Alexander Arnold. The 24-year-old scored 26 goals during his debut season at Roma – making him the second highest-scoring English striker last term.
Abraham has never properly translated that form in an England shirt, though. He has scored just three goals in 11 caps and struggled to get into games when given a chance during the recent international window.
Southgate has plenty of options as a backup to Harry Kane. Dominic Calvert-Lewin could recapture his form after a below-par campaign, while Ollie Watkins remains under consideration. Abraham will need to start impressing in an England shirt.
Emile Smith Rowe
It was slightly surprising to see Arsenal ace Emile Smith Rowe demoted to the England U21 squad for the recent international fixtures. Although it was perhaps a warning to the Croydon-born playmaker that his England place is not secure.
Smith Rowe has been capped four times by the senior team and scored his first international goal against San Marino last November. Given England’s lack of goals outside of Kane, the 21-year-old surely has to be under consideration with a bigger squad allowed.
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