Gareth Southgate explains decisions behind England World Cup squad as Maddison and Wilson included

Gareth Southgate named his 26-man squad for the World Cup which gets underway later this month

Published Last updated

Gareth Southgate has explained the decisions behind naming England's 26-man squad for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar.

James Maddison and Callum Wilson are in the World Cup squad after Southgate handed the in-form pair their first international call-ups in three years.

Speaking about Maddison's call up, Southgate told a press conference: "He's playing really well, he's a good player, we've always said he's a good player.

"He's earned the right. We think he can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players that we've got."

Gareth Southgate
Gareth Southgate

“I think at various stages there have been conversations, debates about James – there’s been moments where ahead of the Euros I don’t think he was in contention and (in) September was probably a fair debate, but I think he’s playing as well as any of the attacking players in this country.”

Southgate has largely stuck with the tried and tested, with the most eye-catching selections being Maddison and Wilson.

Maddison’s only England cap came as a substitute against Montenegro in November 2019 – the last squad four-cap Wilson was involved in.

There is no space in Southgate’s Qatar selection for Roma striker Tammy Abraham, Brentford frontman Ivan Toney or West Ham forward Jarrod Bowen.

Southgate added that Abraham had missed out due to a “poor run of scoring form at the wrong time” with the start of the tournament just 10 days away.

There is a recall for rejuvenated Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, whose last cap came in the Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

Manchester City pair Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips were included despite a lack of match fitness, while Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has been named in the squad despite his limited game time.

James Maddison
James Maddison

Versatile Arsenal defender Ben White has been brought into a group that has Luke Shaw as the only out-and-out left-back. Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori and Tyrone Mings are among those missing out.

Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher made the cut but Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse again just missed out on a major tournament squad.

Asked if his squad contained everything necessary to win a World Cup, Southgate said: “We’ve wanted to make sure the balance of the squad is right.

“I think the squad is more important than ever. With five substitutes you can have almost half the team changed during the game so you want different options for different moments of matches and stages at the tournament as well.

“We’ve had to cover a couple of players that aren’t yet fully fit, so having 26 available meant we were probably able to take a couple of risks that you might not have been able to with 23, but we think the balance is there and we’ve got cover in the positions we need.

“We’re lighter on depth in some positions than others but we think we’ve got everything covered.”

England World Cup squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ben White

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice

Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, James Maddison, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson