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World Cup: Five outsiders to make England's squad

The World Cup is only a matter of months away, but there is still time for a number of players to stake their claims for places in England's squad for the finals.

(This article was originally published on 14.06.2022)

While the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Pickford are guaranteed to be in Gareth Southgate's final 23-man party for Qatar (fitness depending), others face a nervous wait to see whether they will also be on the plane.

England have reached at least the semi-finals of the last two major international tournaments and they are 11/2 to be crowned world champions this summer, meaning it is more important than ever for players to secure their places in the squad.

We have taken a look at five players that are currently outsiders to be heading to Qatar, although they all still have time to force their way into the reckoning.

What: World Cup

Where: Qatar

When: 21st November - 18th December 2022

How to watch: All matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV

Odds: Brazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Spain 8/1, Argentina 8/1

Eric Dier - Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham defender Eric Dier is the most experienced player on this list, as he has been capped 45 times by England since making his debut in 2015, featuring at both Euro 2016 and the World Cup two years later.

At the latter of those tournaments, Dier wrote his name into England folklore by scoring the winning penalty in the Three Lions' dramatic shootout success over Colombia in the round of 16.

However, a dip in form following that tournament saw Dier eventually lose his place in Southgate's squad, with his last appearance for England coming against Iceland in November 2020.

Dier's time in an England shirt appeared to be over at one stage, but he enjoyed an upturn in form over the second half of last season under Antonio Conte at Spurs and that has brought him back into the international debate once again.

The former Sporting Lisbon youngster's versatility could also boost his chances of being part of the World Cup squad, as he can play as part of central defensive duo or a back three, while he began his career as a midfielder.

Eddie Nketiah - Arsenal

Arsenal forward Eddie Nketiah looks set for a big summer, as he is out of contract at the Emirates Stadium and it is not yet known whether he will sign a new deal with the Gunners or move elsewhere.

Nketiah showcased his quality over the conclusion of last season, netting five goals across his final seven appearances, proving himself capable of leading the Arsenal line in the process.

However, the 23-year-old is likely to want guarantees over his first-team opportunities before committing his future to the Gunners, as he surely has to be playing regularly to stand a chance of forcing his way into England's World Cup squad.

The Lewisham-born frontman has proven pedigree on the international stage, as he is the all-time leading scorer for England under-21s, netting 16 goals in 17 appearances for the Young Lions.

There is certainly an opportunity for several players to force their way into Southgate's squad as back-up to captain Kane, and a fast start to next season could push Nketiah to the front of the queue.

Patrick Bamford - Leeds United

Nketiah is not the only forward hoping to make a late surge for World Cup selection, as Leeds United forward Patrick Bamford will also fancy his chances, providing he can stay fit.

Off the back of scoring 17 Premier League goals for Leeds during the 2020/21 campaign, Bamford made his England debut at the start of last season, starting in a World Cup qualifier against Andorra.

However, the 28-year-old picked up an ankle injury soon after and that was the first of several issues which plagued him throughout the season, limiting him to just six appearances for Leeds following his international debut.

Bamford will now be hoping those injury woes are behind him, and if he can rediscover his form of two seasons ago, then an England recall may not be a million miles away.

Ivan Toney - Brentford

Recent matches in the Nations League have shown that England do have a lack of goalscoring options to support Kane, but one man that could fill that void is Brentford's Ivan Toney.

The 26-year-old netted a then Championship record 33 goals as the Bees secured promotion to the Premier League in 2021, and although he did not find the back of the net as regularly during his first full season in top-flight football, there were certainly signs he is capable of thriving at the highest level.

Toney ended the 2021/22 season with 12 Premier League goals, eight of which came after the turn of the year, with the forward forming an impressive understanding with Christian Eriksen at the Brentford Community Stadium.

The former Newcastle youngster did not feature for England at youth level and there has been talk he could receive an international call-up from Jamaica, but if he can pick up where he left off at the end of last season, then maybe Southgate and co will come knocking just in time for the World Cup.

Emile Smith Rowe - Arsenal

Rewind to the end of last year and Arsenal attacking midfielder Emile Smith Rowe was breaking into the senior England fold and looked to be there to stay after netting in a World Cup qualifier against San Marino.

However, the 21-year-old's form has tailed off during 2022, as he found himself in and out the starting XI at Arsenal, which led to him representing England under-21s this summer rather than the senior team.

Smith Rowe may have slipped back down the pecking order, but there is still time for the youngster to force his way back into Southgate's thinking, even if he faces plenty of competition for a place in the squad from the likes of Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and club team-mate Bukayo Saka.

The former Huddersfield Town loanee was directly involved in 12 Premier League goals for Arsenal last season and, if he can replicate his form from the first half of the campaign at the start of next term, then surely a World Cup place awaits.

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