As England’s squad for 2022 FIFA World Cup depart for Qatar, here is a look at four players who missed out on a call up.
Whilst it is easy to consider England’s World Cup squad as full of the best players at present, it shouldn’t be forgotten that there are players who have just missed out for a variety of different reasons from form to versatility and tactical reasons as well.
We should therefore never forget that there are players who would of deserved a place in the World Cup squad, yet have missed out like the following four players.
Dean Henderson (Nottingham Forest)
With Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale both guaranteed a place in the squad, I feel like it was a tough decision between Nick Pope and Henderson for the final goalkeeping spot – with the latter narrowly missing out.
Although stats suggest that not much has separated Henderson and Pope in terms of punches, high claims and throw-outs, Pope has been the more impressive in terms of his saves quality and offers more tactically in terms of sweeper-clearances which could of possibly been the deciding factor.
Henderson therefore is just unlucky to miss out in my opinion despite making more saves than Pope and Ramsdale, especially given that he is the only English goalkeeper to save at least one penalty this season – having done so on two occasions which could of been useful if England need penalties.
James Tarkowski (Everton)
Whilst questions within Southgate’s defensive selection swirls around the inclusion of Harry Maguire amidst his poor form, Everton’s James Tarkowski should feel disappointed to be snubbed because he has been one of England’s in-form centre-backs this season.
Considering specifically just all of the English defenders in Premier League this season and Everton’s struggles, Tarkowski has topped blocks, interceptions and clearance stats underlining his quality and form which would of surely merited a call-up in past tournaments.
In terms of attacking quality, Tarkowski has also done well with ten shots this season of which five were on target – more than any other defender in shot coversion onto target, so he clearly possesses the ability to help create attacks if needed from within central defence.
Tarkowski’s snub is also made the more tougher by the fact that Manchester United’s Harry Maguire has made just nine appearances in total, yet is still on the plane to Qatar when he really hasn’t earned his spot on form this season.
Harvey Barnes (Leicester)
Whilst there isn’t anything exactly critical to make of the midfield selection except for Kalvin Phillips’ inclusion, I personally would of liked to see Leicester’s Harvey Barnes called up because he has enjoyed a strong season so far with six goals plus some quality performances.
Barnes though is primarily a left-winger and despite his direct quick-paced style with dynamic dribbling and quick runs, he has lacked in the passes and various other aspects of technical ability compared to rivals, so it is easy to understand why Barnes isn’t in the squad once compared to other players.
Another issue which goes against Barnes is his lack of versatility because players like Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford can also play on either flank if necessary, whereas the 24 year-old has only really shown his best on the left flank.
Consistency has also been one of Barnes’ weak points this season despite having delivered better consistent performances in recent weeks, with five goals and one assist in Leicester’s last six matches which also has come too late to really break through into the squad.
I however wouldn’t discount Barnes out of future tournaments if he can continue to improve and hopefully find some extra versatility, which can easily be a key part of a manager’s mindset when selecting players for a tournament.
Ivan Toney (Brentford)
Having been called up for September’s internationals only to not get any game time, Ivan Toney had certainly produced strong regular performances with 11 goals and two assists across 15 appearances in all competitions to put himself in contention.
Southgate though decided to take a versatile forward selection who can mainly play as winger or attacking midfielder, meaning that the central forward selection was tricky in terms of back-up to Harry Kane with Marcus Rashford and Callum Wilson are also in form.
Rasford though is capable of playing as a winger which earnmarked him amongst the picks, whilst Wilson offers explosive pace and aggression when pushing higher up the pitch if Kane for example dropped deep, which is similar to how Toney can play.
Wilson consequently offers that alternative in pace and style to Kane in the central forward position that Toney ultimately couldn’t, although the Brentford forward should now use this snub to inspire him over the next 18 months to chase a 2024 UEFA Euro spot.