The Three Lions hope to end a 56-year trophy wait with the help of their star-studded squad in Qatar.
Gareth Southgate was one step away from leading England to their first trophy since 1966 last summer. But a bitter penalty defeat against Italy saw his Euro 2020 dreams go up in smoke at Wembley.
The Three Lions manager has come under pressure for his side’s poor form ahead of World Cup. But it seems that having a squad full of stars has tempted Southgate to experiment with his existing players.
Let’s check out which players have a higher chance of ending up on England’s starting lineup during the Qatar World Cup.
Goalkeeper: Pickford not backing down
The competition for England’s lineup spots starts from between the posts.
Both Aaron Ramsdale and Nick Pope have made it clear they want to replace Jordan Pickford as England’s No.1 keeper.
Ramsdale’s incredible form at Arsenal last season even earned him a few caps under Southgate. But Pickford has done enough to maintain his starting spot in the national team.
At 28 years old, Pickford is not only experienced but seems to be enjoying better form than his competitors.
Pickford is only behind Brentford’s David Raya in terms of total saves in the Premier League while maintaining an impressive save-percentage record of 81.4 per cent.
Manchester United’s Dean Henderson, who joined Nottingham Forest on a loan deal this summer, might also travel to Qatar if Southgate decides to have four keepers in his squad.
Defenders: Maguire out?
England have struggled hard to maintain defensive stability in their recent matches prior to the World Cup.
Having conceded eight goals in their last three outings, England suffer from both fitness and form issues in their backline.
Reece James, who was probably the only Three Lions defender with a sealed lineup spot, will miss the tournament with a knee injury.
Kyle Walker is the next in line to fill the gap, but his fitness situation is also unclear. In case Walker wouldn’t return in time for the tournament, Kiran Trippier will most likely start at the right-hand side of England’s four-man backline.
Down the middle, Southgate faces another difficult question: will he continue using Harry Maguire in his lineup?
The England boss has come under fire for starting the out-of-form centre-back in his side’s recent games. Given Maguire’s limited game time at Manchester United this season, he will most likely start on the bench for England.
As things stand, John Stones and Eric Dier have a high chance of forming England’s centre-back duo in the World Cup.
Luke Shaw is another England defender who received widespread criticism during the last international break.
The 27-year-old’s recent displays at Man Utd could convince Southgate to keep him in England’s lineup. But he will have serious competition from Ben Chilwell, who might still leapfrog him in the pecking order.
Midfielders: Young and/or experienced
Southgate will need to select a double pivot behind his four-man attacking line for the World Cup.
Declan Rice will most likely continue his crucial role in England’s midfield, balancing out the team’s defensive and attacking traits.
We expect Southgate to pair Rice up with different midfielders for different game plans. However, Jude Bellingham will most likely earn a spot as Southgate’s first-choice option for the position.
At 19 years old, one can rarely find any traces of inexperience in Bellingham’s performances.
Therefore, the Borussia Dortmund star has a good chance of edging out Jordan Henderson, whose experience might become crucial in the knock-out stage games.
The likes of James Ward-Prowse, Harvey Elliot, and Emile-Smith Rowe are also at Southgate’s disposal to make his side more unpredictable.
Forwards: Kane and who?
Harry Kane will start as England’s number nine, with Ivan Toney providing great depth for the position.
For the three-man setup that plays behind Kane, Southgate has a variety of top-class forwards to choose from.
It is difficult to imagine Bukayo Saka out of England’s lineup after his fantastic start with Arsenal this season.
Down the middle, Mason Mount and Phil Foden are available for selection, with the Chelsea star being Southgate’s favourite choice.
Raheem Sterling has remained as England’s main left-back since after the Euro 2020. However, Southgate might decide to rotate him with Jack Grealish, who has enjoyed improved form at Man City this season.