Kyle Walker set to be named in England’s World Cup squad as Gareth Southgate gambles on defender’s fitness… but James Maddison and Fikayo Tomori are expecting BAD news, with Marcus Rashford and Ben White likely to get the nod
- Kyle Walker has been battling back from a groin injury in build up to World Cup
- But boss Gareth Southgate is now set to pick defender along with Kalvin Phillips
- Arsenal’s Ben White and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford may be recalled
- But James Maddison may fear the worst in bid to make England’s 26-man team
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
The Manchester City defender is vital to Southgate because he can play as a right back in a back four, or at centre back in a back three should the England manager want to switch formations.
Walker, 32, has not played since picking up a groin injury in City’s 6-3 victory over Manchester United at the start of last month. The full back’s return to fitness is a huge boost to Southgate ahead of England’s opener in Qatar against Iran a week on Monday.
Kyle Walker is hopeful he has proved his fitness to England ahead of the World Cup
Gareth Southgate (centre) is set to pick the Manchester City star, especially in light of Reece James (right) missing out on the tournament through injury
Walker’s club-mate Kalvin Phillips is also set to be named in the squad despite a recent shoulder operation.
GOALKEEPERS: Pickford (Everton), Ramsdale (Arsenal), Pope (Newcastle).
DEFENDERS: Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Walker (Man City), Trippier (Newcastle), White (Arsenal), Shaw (Man Utd), Stones (Man City), Maguire (Man Utd), Dier (Tottenham), Coady (Everton), Guehi (Crystal Palace).
MIDFIELDERS: Rice (West Ham), Bellingham (B Dortmund), Henderson (Liverpool), Phillips (Man City), Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Mount (Chelsea).
FORWARDS: Kane (Tottenham), Sterling (Chelsea), Foden (Man City), Saka (Arsenal), Grealish (Man City), Rashford (Man Utd), Abraham (Roma).
He had only played 14 minutes of football this season before Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup tie against Chelsea, but became a regular under Southgate as England reached last summer’s European Championship final.
James Maddison is set to miss out despite his scintillating form for Leicester City and AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori is also fearing the worst.
But Arsenal right back Ben White and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford are in strong positions to win recalls.
Chelsea full back Reece James misses out after failing to recover from a knee injury. ‘Devastated,’ he wrote on social media. ‘The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight, but I always felt it was possible. I’ve worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance of going and truly believed I could help the team. There was risk on both sides, but it was one I was willing to take. Good luck to the boys. I’ll be back soon. Stay safe and sending love.’
White is also in contention for a place in the squad after a series of excellent displays for Arsenal at right back. The defender’s versatility is an attraction for Southgate, but if White, who can also play in central midfield, is selected it will be on merit after a fine start to the campaign.
But despite showing excellent form, James Maddison is set to miss out for Leicester City
Despite being left out of Southgate’s previous squad, White has remained in close contact with the England camp, raising optimism he will be picked in James’s absence.
Ben Chilwell’s omission with a hamstring injury leaves Southgate without any experienced cover for Luke Shaw at left back, which could work against White.
But Kieran Trippier, who is likely to start the tournament as first-choice right back, can also play at left back, which opens the door to White’s selection — though Ryan Sessegnon and Ashley Young were both named in England’s extended 55-man squad.
In attack, Rashford’s return to form at Manchester United is well-timed amid concerns about England’s striking options behind captain Harry Kane. Rashford has not been selected since 2021 due to a loss of form but Southgate is an admirer of the forward.
Fikayo Tomori (left) is set to miss out but there is likely to be a place for Marcus Rashford
Phillips, a key figure in England’s run to the European Championship final last year, has recovered from shoulder surgery and is available for selection. There is a growing sense the central midfielder will be included, despite getting just 14 minutes of action this season.
Maddison, despite his brilliant form with Leicester, is bracing himself for bad news. Tammy Abraham, Ivan Toney, Jarrod Bowen and Callum Wilson will all be desperate to avoid disappointment as well when Southgate finalises his options up front.
England long shot James Justin will not be going to Qatar after suffering an achilles injury in Leicester’s win over Newport on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who was selected in the previous squad, is also set to miss out to make way for fit-again Jordan Pickford.
Arsenal defender Ben White is also expected to get the nod for England’s World Cup squad
Walker’s Manchester City team-mate Kalvin Phillips is also set to feature after injury return