England World Cup squad ladder ranks the top 40 contenders for a place in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for Qatar 2022; Ivan Toney is this week’s biggest climber; is there hope again for Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold?
England World Cup squad ladder returns – and it’s been a good week for Brentford striker Ivan Toney!
The 26-year-old is the biggest riser this week as England boss Gareth Southgate prepares to name his preliminary squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, his announcement expected on Thursday, but Reece James has slid in the opposite direction after picking up an ill-timed knee injury.
James Maddison endured a poor audition in front of Southgate but others impressed, including Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, man of the match against Manchester City, and goalkeepers Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale.
Join us as we run through the players on the plane, those sitting in the departure lounge with their boarding passes in hand, and those stuck in traffic in a taxi on their way to the airport.
James off the plane; Pope, Ramsdale on
Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale have climbed into the ‘on the plane’ section
The notable absentee from the first section of the ladder this week is Reece James, whose knee injury is set to keep him out for eight weeks, making him a major doubt for the World Cup and sending him tumbling down our rankings.
The Chelsea defender has dropped a whopping 30 places to 37th.
Having previously been on the plane to Qatar, and, in all probability, in Southgate’s starting line-up at the tournament, he is now facing a race against time to prove his fitness.
His prospects do not look good given he is expected to be wearing a knee brace for up to a month but others are looking in stronger positions in this section of the ladder following the latest round of games.
Harry Kane remains top having scored his ninth Premier League goal of the season from the penalty spot in Tottenham’s win over Everton, while Mason Mount (6th) has jumped three places following his two-goal performance for Chelsea against Aston Villa.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka (7th) is also on the rise, his winning goals against Bodo/Glimt and Leeds seeing him jump above Raheem Sterling (8th), while goalkeepers Nick Pope (11th) and Aaron Ramsdale (12th) have climbed six places apiece following impressive displays for Newcastle and Arsenal respectively, putting them on the plane as Jordan Pickford’s (3rd) back-ups.
Kieran Trippier (10th) is the other big mover in this section, moving up four places partly because of his impressive form for Newcastle, but also due to England’s mounting injury problems at right-back.
Toney rises into departure lounge
Welcome to the departure lounge, Ivan Toney (24th)!
The Brentford striker has climbed nine places following his man-of-the-match display against Brighton on Friday, with Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher saying he “has to go” to the World Cup.
Toney scored the first of his two goals with an outstanding flicked finish, but it was his second, netted from the penalty spot, which best underlined what makes him so enticing to Southgate.
Indeed, in addition to all he offers in general play (Toney is now on eight Premier League goals for the season), he has an incredible penalty record, converting 20 out of 20 attempts for the Bees.
His spot kick prowess, and unique technique, could be crucial for England, especially when you consider the Three Lions have contested shootouts in three of the last four major tournaments in which they have reached the knockout stages.
Toney’s form places him above Marcus Rashford (25th), whose form continues to fluctuate after a series of wasted chances in Manchester United’s most recent games against Omonia Nicosia and Newcastle.
Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher (21st) looks to be in an increasingly strong position while Arsenal’s Ben White (22nd) continues to rise too, his fine form for the Premier League leaders surely making him unignorable to Southgate, especially given the injuries he has elsewhere, not to mention White’s versatility.
Maddison’s nightmare; Gomez, TAA back in contention
Has James Maddison (33rd) played his way out of contention?
The Leicester midfielder has shone in difficult circumstances for Brendan Rodgers’ side this season, climbing to 29th in the ladder last week, but a poor showing in front of the watching Southgate in Saturday’s goalless draw with Crystal Palace has set him back.
Maddison’s determination to catch Southgate’s eye was obvious but he ended up missing several scoring chances at the King Power Stadium, then got booked for diving in the closing stages when attempting to win a penalty, meaning he faces suspension from Leicester’s next game.
It felt like Maddison might need to do something special to win over Southgate given his solitary cap for England came way back in 2019, although his team-mate Harvey Barnes (32nd), whose only cap came more recently, had a better game.
This final section of the graphic features the injured Kyle Walker (30th), as well James, but could that duo’s fitness problems present a route back into the frame for Trent Alexander-Arnold (35th) and Joe Gomez (36th)?
Gomez returns to the ladder having dropped out last week, the 25-year-old, who has 11 England caps, providing an outstanding assist from right-back during Liverpool’s 7-1 win over Rangers, then winning the man-of-the-match award at centre-back in Sunday’s thrilling 1-0 win over Manchester City.
That performance at Anfield, against the free-scoring Erling Haaland, was a reminder of his considerable quality after what’s been a difficult period for him, while the game also featured an earlier-than-expected return from injury for Alexander-Arnold, who came on as a late substitute.
Southgate has been reluctant to trust Alexander-Arnold recently, while he has overlooked Gomez altogether, but injuries in his defensive line may lead to a re-think.
Join us again when we reflect on Southgate’s preliminary squad.