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EFL Players heading to the World Cup

A total of 30 players from 19 different EFL clubs have headed for Qatar for the World Cup to showcase the strength in depth of the English football pyramid.

No less than 12 of those 30 are part of a Welsh squad making a first appearance at a World Cup since 1958.

But even if you took Swansea's Joe Allen and his international team-mates out of the equation, that would still mean English football is represented by more players below top-flight level at this World Cup than any other nation's lower tiers.

What: World Cup 2022
Where: Qatar
When: Sunday, November 20 – Sunday, December 18, 2022
How to watch: BBC & ITV
Odds: Brazil 7/2, Argentina 11/2, France 7/1, England 8/1, Spain 8/1, Germany 10/1

Wales have scoured the EFL for shot at glory

It is no great surprise that Rob Page's Welsh squad is packed with representatives from the Championship and Leagues One and Two.

Indeed, they have flown out to the gulf with more players from the bottom three divisions than the Premier League.

And of the four League One and Two teams with players in Qatar – Portsmouth and MK Dons from League One, Wimbledon and Swindon from League Two – it's all down to Wales.

And those four teams, of course, suffer an immediate impact because while the Championship goes into hibernation until 10th December and the Premier League until after Christmas, Leagues One and Two are carrying on as normal.

Of that quartet, Swindon will certainly feel the loss of Jonny Williams, who has started 15 league games this season and is their top scorer with six goals. And ageless defender Chris Gunter, a man with 109 caps to his name, has started 17 of Wimbledon's 18 matches this season.

Championship figures large in African challenge

Reading and Swansea are the most represented EFL clubs in Qatar with three players apiece.

That Swansea have a trio of participants would come as no great surprise given the number of Welsh-born players at the club and two of those, Allen and Ben Cabango, are part of Page's plans.

The other player from the Liberty Stadium, however, is Olivier Ntcham, the French-born former Manchester City midfielder who made his Cameroon debut as recently as September and is now bracing himself for a showdown with Brazil.

He is one of 10 EFL players representing African nations in Qatar with Reading responsible for two of those, their on-loan midfielder Mamadou Loum with Senegal and defender Baba Rahman, on loan from Chelsea, who is a mainstay of the Ghana back line.

QPR's highly-regarded keeper Seny Dieng is in the Senegal squad as back-up to Chelsea's Edouard Mendy and is joined by Watford's star Ismaila Sarr and Sheffield United's Iliman Ndiaye, the joint top-scorer in the Championship this term with nine goals to his name.

Dieng's Rangers' team-mate Ilias Chair will be a key figure in Morocco's quest to qualify from Group F, Birmingham trier Hannibal Mejri has Tunisia at his heart while Ghana can also call upon Bristol City's Antoine Semenyo.

The most recent to be summoned was Burnley winger Anass Zaroury, a Belgium Under-21 international whose decision to pledge allegiance to Morocco as recently as September paid off when he was called up on the eve of the finals as a replacement for Amine Harit.

Aussies looking to second tier threesome for joy

Australia have long since summoned English-based players for World Cup duties – their 2006 squad contained 11 players earning a crust in England – but interestingly coach Graham Arnold has drafted in just three this time round.

And all three – Sunderland's Bailey Wright, Middlesbrough's Riley McGree and Stoke's Harry Souttar – perform in the Championship on a weekly basis.

Sunderland have also waved a fond farewell to 18-year-old Jewison Bennette, who is part of Costa Rica's set-up.

Junior Hoilett, the third Reading player who has jetted out to the desert, has been an integral part of Canada's resurgence while across the border in the United States they have drafted in the help of Norwich striker Josh Sargent and Luton's Ethan Horvath, who has made the goalie's gloves his own in his first season at Kenilworth Road.

Horvath needs something unfortunate to befall Matt Turner before he can dream of starting whereas Sargent is very much in the mix for a starting berth in Gregg Berhalter's chosen 11.

And that just leaves Krystian Bielik of Birmingham City who will be hoping for game time with Poland as they endeavour to plot a course out of Group C.

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