World Cup 2022: Our writers pick their 23-man England squad for Qatar

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With eight months to go until the World Cup, England’s preparations for the tournament are now in full swing and Gareth Southgate has plenty of big decisions coming up in the next few months as he prepares to shape his squad for Qatar.

There’s still plenty of time for players to make their case with England’s Nations League campaign starting this summer, while there will be more friendlies arranged for the Three Lions in the build-up to the World Cup, which starts in November.

So, who will make Southgate’s squad? The Sky Sports football writers have had their say!

Read on to see who they’ve chosen and why, then use our team selector to pick YOUR England squad for Qatar…

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Peter Smith: Form will be decisive for in-season World Cup

Peter Smith's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Ben Chilwell, Benjamin White, Kieran Trippier

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount.

Forwards: Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Tammy Abraham, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho.

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

An in-season World Cup means form could be decisive – and makes selecting a squad eight months early hard to do! But England’s strongest XI overall right now – for me: Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Walker, Maguire, Stones, Chilwell, Rice, Phillips, Saka, Kane, Sterling – will need to be supplemented by players who can add flexibility or x-factor.

Ben White (defence or midfield), Kieran Trippier (full-back/wing-back on either side with bonus set-piece skills), and Jadon Sancho (just edging out Jarrod Bowen) make the cut, with a reliance on potential emergency alternatives at centre-back (Reece James, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips) allowing me to add an extra attacker.

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Jordan Henderson may not get many minutes but is an important leader in the group, while Jude Bellingham already belongs at this level, Tammy Abraham is back to being Harry Kane’s understudy, and Man City pals Phil Foden and Jack Grealish can unlock doors in tight games.

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David James says the exciting environment within the England team could explain Jordan Pickford’s difference in form for club and country.

Sam Blitz: Watkins to be a surprise inclusion?

Sam Blitz's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Ben White, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Emile Smith Rowe.

Forwards: Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Jadon Sancho, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Ollie Watkins.

Sky Sports’ Sam Blitz:

This is perhaps one of the easier England squads to predict out of the last few major tournaments. Southgate will ideally want to keep a large bulk of the Euro 2020 squad for team harmony purposes, so expect only a few changes from last summer’s crop of heroes.

One surprise call should be Ollie Watkins, who should soar to new heights under Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa next season and scored in the 3-0 friendly victory over Ivory Coast. The Villa man is the closest striker England have to Kane in terms of style and Southgate’s faith in Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Marcus Rashford is reducing as the months go by.

Should he be fit and return to his pre-injury form, Ben Chilwell should retain his place but expect one of Kieran Trippier, Aaron Cresswell or Rico Henry to step up if he falls short. Meanwhile, Ben White’s form for Arsenal should put him ahead of Conor Coady at centre-half.

Nick Wright: Don’t write off Rashford

Nick Wright's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope.

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Conor Coady, Ben White.

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham, Emile Smith Rowe, Conor Gallagher.

Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford.

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:

There has been a rush to write off Marcus Rashford recently but I’m confident he will rediscover his form before the tournament – be that at Manchester United or somewhere else. He’s a world-class talent with a good England record and still only 24.

I think Emile Smith Rowe is worthy of inclusion too. He is relatively inexperienced but he always affects games. Just look at how he continued scoring during his recent spell as a substitute at Arsenal. He could be a difference-maker from the bench.

Conor Gallagher is similarly inexperienced at senior level but his extraordinary engine would be invaluable in what is likely to be a gruelling schedule in Qatar. I’d take him over Jordan Henderson, especially with Declan Rice now filling the leadership void.

Laura Hunter: Change is good

Laura Hunter's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kyle Walker-Peters, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Conor Coady, Harry Maguire, Benjamin White.

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, James Ward-Prowse, Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka

Forwards: Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Tammy Abraham.

Sky Sports’ Laura Hunter:

Tournament experience is important, but with such an abundance of young talent at his disposal, it’s time for Gareth Southgate to take a chance on some periphery players.

Undoubtedly, last summer’s heroics will be all too fresh in the mind of the England manager – and rightly so. But, embracing a change in personnel will add to squad depth, not detract.

James Ward-Prowse is enjoying a fine season for Southampton. Given the Three Lions’ central midfield options, the Saints captain is often overlooked, but his set-piece prowess and general reliability should be given careful consideration. He is a leader for club, which is important if the squad generally possesses less big tournament knowhow.

Versatility should also be a characteristic held in high regard if England want to go the distance in Qatar; Kyle Walker-Peters is the perfect replacement for Kieran Trippier given his ability on both flanks.

Tammy Abraham should deputise for Harry Kane, if his Serie A form continues, while Conor Gallagher would also be a breath of fresh air.

Oliver Yew: Gallagher’s rise to continue

Oliver Yew's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope.

Defenders: Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Conor Coady, Benjamin White.

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips, Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount.

Forwards: Harry Kane, Tammy Abraham, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho.

Sky Sports’ Oliver Yew:

There is competition for places all over this England squad, and that is shown in the quality of player that could miss out on the Three Lions’ World Cup in Qatar.

It’s starting to look increasingly difficult for Marcus Rashford, who has slipped out of Gareth Southgate’s squad. Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson, Kyle Walker and Kieran Tripper, who were all key members of England’s Euro 2020 squad, could also miss the cut with the emergence of Conor Gallagher and the form of Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold for Chelsea and Liverpool respectively.

Interesting inclusions include striker Tammy Abraham, who has been in fine form since leaving Chelsea for Roma. He has scored 23 goals since his switch to the Italian capital and should he stay performing at that level it would be difficult to ignore him as the back-up option to Harry Kane.

Meanwhile, Gallagher’s impressive rise with Crystal Palace has seen him become a regular member of recent squads. His quality on the ball and his energy makes him a really interesting pick and it could be at the expense of Henderson, who is one of England’s more experienced players. It will be interesting to see where his future lies next season and whether he will get enough game-time to stay in Southgate’s plans.

There are plenty of problems for Southgate to solve in the coming months.

Ron Walker: Bowen running out of time

Ron Walker's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders: Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings, Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw

Midfielders: Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Phil Foden

Forwards: Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Harry Kane, Tammy Abraham, Jadon Sancho

Sky Sports’ Ron Walker:

I can’t remember a time where picking an England squad has been quite this tricky. The goalkeepers do pick themselves at least, and so does most of the defence. Trent Alexander-Arnold wins out over Reece James and Conor Coady is a good dressing room voice and well equipped when we play a back three.

The temptation of including the overlooked outsider is always there but Gareth Southgate’s loyalty to his trusted players has taken us to back-to-back semi-finals and given Tyrone Mings’ club form, plus his aerial presence, he goes over Fikayo Tomori. Just.

Kalvin Phillips’ injury troubles are a concern but he’s still got seven months to get fit and has to go after his performances at Euro 2020. I’d love to squeeze Connor Gallagher in there, but his time will come and England just have slightly too many good options with more international experience.

Tammy Abraham because if England need a goal, he’s a better option off the bench than Ollie Watkins in my view, although Dominic Calvert-Lewin could usurp him by November. Jadon Sancho’s still yet to really show it on the international stage, but the promising Jarrod Bowen got injured at just the wrong point and is, sadly, running out of time to integrate himself into the squad.

Jack Wilkinson: Southgate to upset favourites

Jack Wilkinson's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers:Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders:Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kyle Walker.

Midfielders:Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice.

Forwards:Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling.

Sky Sports’ Jack Wilkinson:

With squads reduced from 26 to 23 players for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Gareth Southgate is going to have to make some tough decisions over players who have been crucial in England’s recent upsurge. But there can be no room for sentiment if the Three Lions are going to realise an objective 56 years in the making.

Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady, regulars in Southgate’s squads, regrettably do not make the cut on this occasion. Mings should be nowhere near the England set-up on current form, while the luxury of selecting Coady – who, let’s face it, isn’t going to break into the first XI – purely because he’s good for morale in the camp, cannot be accommodated with the revised squad sizes.

Selecting players who are not only going to feature but will elevate performance levels on the pitch is going to be crucial, that’s where Fikayo Tomori comes in. His stellar campaign at Serie A leaders AC Milan should have been recognised with a call-up for England’s friendly double-header in March, but Southgate will be unable to ignore him any longer if he goes on to guide the Rossoneri to the Scudetto.

The personality and maturity Conor Gallagher has displayed in his seamless transition to international football, coupled with his burgeoning club form, make him an ideal addition to a now-familiar England midfield group which, along with the goalkeepers, virtually picks itself. Things become rather difficult in attack, though.

Yes, Kane, Foden, Sterling, Saka and Grealish are shoo-ins to be on the plane, but who should join them? It all depends on what Southgate regards as his Plan B if a Kane-focused Plan A proves fruitless. Jadon Sancho could be the answer if a false-nine system is viewed as an alternative. If a like-for-like back-up striker is required, Marcus Rashford looks a better option, providing he manages to find an ounce of form before Qatar.

Declan Olley: Sancho to stay home

Declan Olley's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers:Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale.

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Ben White.

Midfielders:Jude Bellingham, Jack Grealish, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice.

Forwards:Tammy Abraham, Phil Foden, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling.

Sky Sports’ Declan Olley:

Jadon Sancho was the one who just missed out for me, but would be my first replacement if any of the wide forward options were injured or badly out of form.

With temperatures potentially reaching as high as 30 degrees Celsius in Qatar, I have gone with four central midfielders, including Kalvin Phillips. Despite his current injury problems, I am confident the Leeds midfielder will rediscover that Euro 2020 form next season.

And defensively, Kyle Walker’s versatility as both a right-back and centre-halve in a back three helps with his inclusion, while Conor Coady gets the nod as the fourth-choice centre-back ahead of Tyrone Mings.

David Richardson: Experience will be key in Qatar

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Tyrone Mings says he always feels on trial when he reports for international duty and is not worried by the depth of the England squad ahead of the World Cup. David Richardson's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers:Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders:Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Tyrone Mings, Luke Shaw, Kieran Trippier

Midfielders:Declan Rice, Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Kalvin Phillips, Mason Mount

Forwards:Harry Kane, Tammy Abraham, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho

Sky Sports’ David Richardson:

Experience will be key for England to control games at this World Cup which is why I’ve selected many of Gareth Southgate’s tried and tested players from the last two tournaments. Don’t expect many surprise selections in here.

Kyle Walker’s pace is a crucial asset at international level to prevent counter-attacks while Kieran Trippier’s know-how and versality puts him in ahead of Ben Chilwell.

Tyrone Mings gets the nod over Conor Coady based on his solid performances at Euro 2020. The same applies to the injury-stricken Kalvin Phillips, who will be on the plane instead of James Ward-Prowse although form and fitness will dictate this decision in eight months’ time.

The biggest omission is Marcus Rashford, who loses out to Jadon Sancho, as does Jarrod Bowen. Tammy Abraham is the only outfield player to have not represented England at a major tournament, but his current form has to put him in ahead of Ollie Watkins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Zinny Boswell: No Trent or Trippier

Zinny Boswell's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers:Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Sam Johnstone

Defenders:Kyle Walker, Reece James, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Ben White, Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw.

Midfielders:Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount.

Forwards:Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho.

Sky Sports’ Zinny Boswell:

Leaving Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier out may seem like a harsh call – and it probably is – but I couldn’t look any further than Kyle Walker or Reece James at right back. Walker would be my first-choice right back and one of the three centre backs in a back five. As the back-up option would largely be playing wing back, James felt like the obvious choice given his experience and output featuring in that position for Chelsea.

Marcus Rashford is more of a hopeful inclusion, as his performances have been poor for the past 12 months. But with the promise of a fresh start at Manchester United under a new manager and eight months until the World Cup, I feel confident he can rediscover his best form by then. His versatility – being able to play back up to Harry Kane and as a wide forward – puts him narrowly ahead of Tammy Abraham in my thinking.

Fikayo Tomori has largely been overlooked by Southgate since moving to AC Milan, but the former Chelsea centre-back is proving he has the quality to figure in England’s World Cup squad.

Adam Smith: Trippier and Bellingham miss out

Adam Smith's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers:Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope

Defenders:Harry Maguire, John Stones, Conor Coady, Ben White, Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Midfielders:Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Phil Foden

Forwards:Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:

I would expect John Stones and Harry Maguire to make the starting XI in Qatar, but Conor Coady is reliable and vocal and can play in a three, while Ben White offers the versatility often required at tournaments.

In terms of the full-backs, there could be an argument to omit Trent Alexander-Arnold based on Southgate preferring Reece James and Kyle Walker – but his world-class distribution could be a game-changer.

In midfield, Jude Bellingham becomes my notable casualty, while Conor Gallagher and James Ward-Prowse also deserve tickets. Of those, Gallagher would be my back-up, based on his combination of form, influence, energy levels, defensive work and attacking output.

A raft of forwards vie for positions up top, but the prime candidates are almost certainly guaranteed spots. However, the seat for Harry Kane’s understudy is up for grabs and Dominic Calvert-Lewin is my choice as an additional, emergency aerial option.

Ben Grounds: Southgate must learn from past misfortune

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Declan Rice admits it was ‘special to hear’ England manager Gareth Southgate’s vote of confidence for him being a future England captain. Ben Grounds' 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope.

Defenders: Kyle Walker, Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Conor Coady.

Midfielders :Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips, Mason Mount, James Ward-Prowse, Phil Foden.

Forwards: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish.

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

Gareth Southgate has highlighted England’s lack of penalty experience, revealing the squad have already begun practising for a potential shoot-out.

After the European Championship final defeat on penalties to Italy at Wembley, Southgate was convinced experience played a part – an assessment backed up by his side’s statistics. Fine margins decided last summer’s tournament and will do so again in Qatar.

James Ward-Prowse is one of only two regular penalty-takers for their club along with Harry Kane and must therefore be included. Marcus Rashford’s form has fallen off a cliff while he has even dropped down the pecking order when it comes to spot-kicks at Manchester United, where Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes share the responsibility.

Raheem Sterling has a poor record with six successful efforts out of 12 while Jack Grealish was one of those criticised for not stepping up against Italy having not taken a senior penalty in regulation.

Conversely, Ward-Prowse has scored 12 out of 16 (75 per cent) for Southampton. Such a minor detail when addressing the make-up of this England squad cannot be overlooked. Two camps and six games remaining doesn’t afford Southgate much time to experiment with options outside of what he already knows. With that in mind, don’t expect too many other surprises.

Joe Shread: Abraham offers back-up for Kane

Joe Shread's 23-man England squad for Qatar

Goalkeepers:Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Nick Pope.

Defenders:Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Ben White.

Midfielders:Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Jordan Henderson, Kalvin Phillips, Mason Mount, Phil Foden.

Forwards: Harry Kane, Tammy Abraham, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish.

Sky Sports’ Joe Shread:

There’s no debate over the three goalkeepers, so the conversation begins in defence. Reece James is the number one right-back and can also play in a back three, while the nonsense over Trent Alexander-Arnold’s potential absence needs stamping out – he’s a unique attacking weapon and deserves his place ahead of Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.

Fikayo Tomori is another who’s been wrongly overlooked but gets a long-overdue call up here, while Ben White edges out Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings. In midfield, Conor Gallagher and James Ward-Prowse are unlucky to miss out, but there’s plenty of steel and flair among the midfielders in this squad.

There’s no place for Marcus Rashford among the forwards, although Jack Grealish – who has a lot more to do to convince me he’s worthy of the hype – would find himself under pressure if the Manchester United man rediscovers his form. Tammy Abraham’s impressive performances for Roma earn him the job as Harry Kane’s back up.

England’s confirmed 2022 fixtures

Nations League

June 4: Hungary (a)
June 8: Germany (a)
June 11: Italy (h)
June 14: Hungary (h)
September 23: Italy (a)
September 26: Germany (h)

World Cup 2022 starts in November: Dates, draw, schedule, kick-off times

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