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World Cup: Smith Rowe can grab Qatar chance

The World Cup in Qatar is still 12 months away, but England boss Gareth Southgate will soon start to plan for next year's tournament.

(This article was originally published on 10.11.2021)

That is, of course, if England qualifies, but they can confirm their place in the group stages this month, with the final two rounds of European qualifiers starting on Thursday.

England need four points from their matches against Albania and San Marino, but their place could be confirmed on Friday, should they beat Albania and second-placed Poland lose to Andorra.

Southgate then has the remainder of the 2021/22 season to decide his squad, and we take a look at five players that could break into his plans for the World Cup.

Emile Smith Rowe good value to make the final cut

Arsenal midfielder Smith Rowe is still in dreamland after receiving his first call-up to the squad on Monday.

Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Mason Mount and James Ward-Prowse all failed to report for international duty, meaning Smith Rowe was handed his opportunity.

Smith Rowe, who is 13/8 to be named in the finals squad, has scored in his past three Premier League games.

Injuries to others in his position could give Smith Rowe the perfect window of opportunity, and his eye for goal could be what sets him apart from the rest of England's midfielders.

Arsenal team-mates Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale will also be looking to secure his place on the flight to Qatar.

Southgate favouring left-sided Mings

It is a surprise to see Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings priced at 1/1 for next year's World Cup.

The 28-year-old is a favourite of Southgate, and the former Bournemouth defender has made 15 appearances since 2019 for the Three Lions.

Mings' recent performances have been criticised, especially after Villa's slump in form cost Dean Smith his job.

He was named in the current squad, and due to his ability as a left-sided defender, he's got every chance of making the cut.

Door still open for Eagles ace Gallagher

Crystal Palace loanee Conor Gallagher was another player that missed out on Southgate's squad, but it seems like he could still force his way into the head coaches' plans.

Speaking in his original press conference, Southgate said it was a little early to call up Smith Rowe and Gallagher, but injuries forced his hand.

Since moving to Selhurst Park on loan from Chelsea, Gallagher has netted four goals in ten appearances, and his energetic style could give Southgate some selection headaches next winter.

At 2/1, he offers decent value for a place in next year's squad, and if he maintains his current form, Chelsea may struggle to keep hold of him.

Saints skipper still in Southgate's plans

Southampton captain Ward-Prowse might have lost his place in the latest squad due to injury, but it shows he is at the forefront of the coaches mind.

Ward-Prowse, who recently signed a new contract on the south coast, is 10/3 to make the final squad for Qatar, and that could tempt punters after some impressive displays of late.

The 27-year-old brings a wealth of experience to the England team, and his set-piece skills offer something different to the other midfielders in the camp.

Two goals in nine England appearances prove he can cut it; he just needs to stay injury-free over the next 12 months.

Injured Bamford not out of the running

Southgate's current squad contains seven forwards, but only two of them are out-and-out strikers.

Tammy Abraham and Harry Kane are the only players that could play through the middle on a consistent basis, and injuries to Patrick Bamford, Danny Ings, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have forced Southgate to change his tactics.

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa has refused to put a timescale on Bamford's return from an ankle injury, and the Whites are missing his presence in the final third.

Bamford netted 17 goals last season, but he has not featured for Leeds since September. Should he return before Christmas, Bamford could be fresh for the final few months of the campaign, and at 8/1, he could sneak into the fold.

The former Middlesbrough striker was called up to the England squad for the first time in August of this year, making his debut in a 4-0 win over Andorra.

Bamford, who is left-footed, has developed under Bielsa into one of England's top strikers, and if Calvert-Lewin struggles to maintain his fitness, Bamford could book his place on the plane.

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