England World Cup squad: Clamour for playmaker pays off; Newcastle star edges out two rivals; key defender makes the cut

Gareth Southgate, Jude Bellingham. Phil Foden, Harry Kane England World Cup squad

Attacking trio James Maddison, Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford have all been named in a 26-man England squad for the World Cup in Qatar, but it’s bad news for Brentford and West Ham forwards.

There was much debate over whether Leicester star Maddison would make the cut after continuous Southgate snubs, but a huge clamour for his inclusion has paid off after a fine run of form with the Foxes.

Wilson and Rashford both return after their own absences but Ivan Toney, Jarrod Bowen and Tammy Abraham all miss out.

Injured Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker, Arsenal defender Ben White and Chelsea star Connor Gallagher are also included but AC Milan’s¬†Fikayo Tomori is snubbed.

England face Iran in their World Cup opener on 21 November (13:00 GMT).

They are joined in Group B by Wales and the United States.

Speaking about the return of Maddison, who has been linked with summer moves to both Newcastle and Tottenham, Southgate said:¬†“He is playing exceptionally well. We like the fact he finds those pockets of space. Not enough players play forward in this day and age. And his set-play delivery is outstanding and he can score from distance.”

Southgate strikes the right balance

On the overall balance on the squad, the Three Lions boss added:¬†“We wanted to make sure we got the balance of the squad right.

“I think in this day and age the squad is more important than ever.

“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.”

As for being able to call on injured duo Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips again, Southgate said:¬†“Kalvin played last night; he is free of injury. We are aware he is not going to be able to play seven 90 minutes, that won’t be possible. But he is available.

“We don’t really have a lot of cover for that role in the country. Kalvin is a super player and we feel it is a risk worth taking. Kyle is not back in full training but will be available before the end of the group stage.

“We made a very difficult call with Reece [James], he is a fantastic player. He wasn’t going to be available, if everything went perfectly, until the latter stages. There are too many unknowns. And it would be deemed arrogant to take a player who can’t play in the groups in some circles.”

England squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)

Defenders: Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Eric Dier (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Conor Coady (Everton), Ben White (Arsenal), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Declan Rice (West Ham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City)

Forwards: James Maddison (Leicester), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)