Home SPORTS Gareth Southgate’s England conundrum as 2022 World Cup headache begins

Gareth Southgate’s England conundrum as 2022 World Cup headache begins


The Three Lions have booked their passage to Qatar after an unbeaten qualifying campaign, finished off with a thumping 10-0 victory over San Marino, but Southgate now faces an all too different problem

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Gareth Southgate has got an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.

And the biggest headache facing the England manager is trying to squeeze all of the talent into his 23 man squad for Qatar next year.

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It could be the most competitive England squad in tournament history with players vying for places in every single department.

Incredibly, Southgate has given 49 players their debut during his five years as England boss and his turnover of players means the door remains very much open.

England have got eight games between now and the World Cup with two friendlies set to be confirmed for Wembley in March, four Nations League games in June, followed by another two in September and that means there is plenty of time for players to stake a claim.

Gareth Southgate has a wealth of options to choose from – but that will provide some headache



This time, Conor Gallagher got his chance against San Marino as the on-loan Chelsea midfielder appeared from nowhere to suddenly get a senior cap.

Emile Smith Rowe was England’s 18th different goalscorer in 2021 which just serves to underline the strength in depth and the young talent coming off the St George’s Park conveyor belt.

The Football Association even famously put up a clock at St George’s Park in the coaches’ room counting down to 2022 when it was supposed to be England’s year.

Conor Gallagher has put his name in the frame for Qatar


The FA via Getty Images)

That has since been taken down but, actually, the timing does feel right as England have experience from two major tournaments, having reached the 2018 World Cup semi final and the Euros final last summer.

Having gone close twice, they know what it takes to get to the latter stages of major tournaments and they also have a new Golden Generation of players coming through.

The under-17s World Cup winning squad of 2017 have already produced five players who have played for the seniors with Gallagher, Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Smith Rowe.

Foden could yet be England’s most exciting player of his generation, his talent shines through for Manchester City and he is growing in stature.

Jude Bellingham is just 18 but has won ten senior caps already and is dominating games for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League week in and week out.

Jude Bellingham is becoming an increasingly more prominent figure in the England set-up

Then, of course, there is Harry Kane who is on course to break every goalscoring record going after a record breaking year for England in 2021.

The only defeat in 2021 came on penalties to Italy in the Euros final, and they have scored 39 goals in qualifying which is the highest tally ever.

Kane is now looking a world class striker. It is a nonsense to suggest he gets overlooked as he is English because Robert Lewandowski has been the most prolific and successful No9 in Europe for years but now Kane looks ready to challenge as the Bayern Munich striker is growing old gracefully.

Harry Kane is poised to break England’s all-time scoring record



England have so many options in goal, in defence and in midfield where it is genuinely a case of trying to squeeze them all in and get the balance right.

That is the task facing Southgate and yet, despite all of the progress, the England boss still insists they must improve in 2022 to take the next step.

Southgate said: “We have to focus on performance and constantly improving in every aspect of the game, keep doing the things we’re doing well, improve the things that that can be better and it’s going to be interesting to see some of the younger players who are emerging and how quickly their progress is towards what’s going to happen in the next 12 months.

“So we’ve got a nice period now to go and prepare and reflect not just on the last few months, but the whole year and a chance to breathe and think about everything really because we’ve almost not had the time to even reflect on the summer, never mind games this autumn.

“It’s just being such a quick turnaround so this is a good period or us as a group and staff to reflect on everything.”

It could be an even more exciting 2022 if everything pans out England’s way.

Aaron Ramsdale looks set to push Jordan Pickford for the No.1 spot


The FA via Getty Images)


On the plane

Jordan Pickford

Aaron Ramsdale

In the lounge

Nick Pope

Sam Johnstone


On the plane

Kyle Walker

Reece James

John Stones

Harry Maguire

Conor Coady

Tyrone Mings

Luke Shaw

Ben Chilwell

In the lounge

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Ben White

Trent Alexander-Arnold contributed plenty vs San Marino but is still battling for a regular place


The FA via Getty Images)


On the plane

Declan Rice

Kalvin Phillips

Jude Bellingham

Mason Mount

Phil Foden

In the lounge

James Ward-Prowse

Jordan Henderson

Emile Smith Rowe

Conor Gallagher

Who would make your England World Cup squad? Take part in our survey below.


On the plane

Harry Kane

Raheem Sterling

Jack Grealish

Bukayo Saka

In the lounge

Marcus Rashford

Tammy Abraham

Standby tickets

Curtis Jones

Harvey Elliott

Mason Greenwood

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