James Maddison and Callum Wilson have earned surprise calls-up for England’s 26-man squad at 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Maddison’s call-up comes three years after he last was named in the England senior squad, with manager – Gareth Southgate since not favouring the Leicester midfielder.
The 25 year-old’s six goals and four assists in 12 league appearances consequently has made it impossible for Southgate to snub him in his forward selection alongside; Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling.
Wilson’s call-up in attack comes after a series of strong performances this season for Newcastle in which he scored six goals and provided two assists, as Eddie Howe’s Magpies currently sit third in the Premier League in a stunning turnaround from 12 months ago.
This decision also marks Wilson’s return to the international stage after a three-year absence, having last played for England in Autumn 2019.
Marcus Rashford is another surprise call-up up front after he was snubbed in September’s UEFA Nations League squad, due to injury which compromised his World Cup prospects, but he is in as Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney have both been dropped.
Jarrod Bowen and Jadon Sancho also miss out in a competitive forward selection.
Conor Gallagher and Jordan Henderson meanwhile have been recalled to midfield as Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse is snubbed, despite his free-kick expertise which could well be a key point in reflection post-tournament for Southgate.
Kalvin Phillips has retained his midfield place despite struggling with a shoulder injury over the last month, which has severely limited his game time.
Chelsea’s Reece James is ruled out of the tournament after he suffered a serious knee injury against AC Milan in mid-October, which has fitted in with a trimmed defensive selection as Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori are snubbed purely on their form.
Ben Chilwell meanwhile misses out at left-back with a hamstring injury suffered against Dinamo Zagreb last week.
Southgate has recalled Jordan Pickford in goal alongside the retained pair of Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale, as Nottingham Forest’s Dean Henderson is consequently omitted from the squad.
Explaining his decisions behind the squad selection, Southgate iterated that he wanted to ensure the “balance of the squad” was correct, especially for the first-ever World Cup to be held mid-season which will provide fitness challenges unlike in previous editions over the decades.
Acknowledging the inclusion of Maddison and Wilson and tactical plans, Southgate added: “Different options for matches and for difference stages of the tournament as well.
“We’ve had to cover players who aren’t fully fit, but we think the balance is there and we’ve got cover in the positions we need.”
England will kick off their World Cup campaign against Iran on Monday 21 November (1pm GMT), before facing USA and Wales on Friday 25 and Tuesday 29 November (7pm GMT).
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle United), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defence: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Coady (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal)
Midfield: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham)
Forward: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), James Maddison (Leicester City), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle United)