England boss Gareth Southgate has included Leicester City midfielder James Maddison in his squad for the World Cup in Qatar, while Ben White, Marcus Rashford and Callum Wilson are among the other stars named.
There were very few surprises expected as Southgate announced his squad at 2pm on Thursday with a large chunk of the squad having previous tournament experience under the former Middlesbrough manager.
Maddison was the biggest surprise of the day with many fans doubting he would select the Leicester City star despite his good Premier League form this term.
The 25-year-old has contributed six goals and four assists in 12 Premier League appearances this season, made all the more impressive with the Foxes struggling at the wrong end of the table.
Maddison’s one and only England cap came in November 2019 when he replaced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 56th minute of England’s 7-0 win over Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Southgate has decided to take Newcastle United’s Wilson, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford as his three main striking options, while Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling can also play through the middle.
Wilson has come into Southgate’s thinking this season with his six goals and two assists in ten Premier League matches, helping Newcastle to third in the Premier League table.
Other contenders such as Roma’s Tammy Abraham and Brentford’s Ivan Toney miss out with Wilson favoured over the pair.
Elsewhere, Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi have been overlooked with versatile Arsenal defender White given his chance to impress.
Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse is another player expected to be close to the squad who has missed out with Saints underperforming this term and sacking manager Ralph Hasenhuttl last week.
Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ben White; Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice; Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, James Maddison, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson.
Giving his opinion on the potential England squad for the World Cup last week, former Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer predicted that Maddison and Wilson might get the call.
“I’d definitely be taking Leicester City’s James Maddison, who is playing exceptionally well and my only debating point would be whether he starts or not — although there’s clearly something Gareth doesn’t fancy about him,” Shearer told The Athletic.
“In attack, I’ve left out Brentford’s Ivan Toney and gone for Tammy Abraham and Callum Wilson.
“I understand that if England are to win the World Cup they’re almost certain to have to win a penalty shootout somewhere down the line and I understand the clamour for Toney to be involved.
“But I’d be a bit concerned about how his physicality might be viewed by referees at the highest level. Wilson has longstanding fitness issues but has been brilliant for Newcastle United.
“Harry Kane remains England’s key player. Gareth will be sitting at a game this weekend with everything crossed that nothing untoward happens to his captain and talisman, who may have been overshadowed by Erling Haaland in the goalscoring charts but is otherwise in fine fettle.
“In Jude Bellingham, we have a superstar in the making with the potential to set the world alight, so in those regards, it feels exciting.”