England Squad Odds: Four wildcards to make the 2022 World Cup
As we edge ever closer to next month’s 2022 World Cup, time is running out for players to force their way into Gareth Southgate’s England Squad.
The provisional squad can now feature up to 55 players and will be announced on Friday 21st October (just 10 days away). That number is then slashed to 26 players - an increase from 23 players at the 2018 World Cup - in time for the final deadline on Sunday 13th November.
Many players will be comfortable in the knowledge that they will be on the plane for Qatar, providing they are fit of course. We’re talking about the likes of skipper Harry Kane, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham.
However, there are others that will be slightly more nervous as the big date rapidly approaches.
There’s always the chance of a late surprise - who remembers 17-year-old Theo Walcott in 2006? - perhaps less so with Southgate at the helm, but with The Three Lions boss under pressure following a winless six game run and relegation from the Nations League, it raises the likeliness that he could be looking for alternative options in a bid to rejuvenate his squad.
With that in mind, here at BettingOdds.com we’ve picked out four wildcard options that could spring in contention for the 26 man England Squad come Tuesday 15th November. To avoid repetitiveness, we’ve tried our best to provide options for various positions on the pitch…
Chris Smalling (Roma)
Both form and fitness have become a key topic of conversation when it comes to Southgate's centre-back options: Kyle Walker is now a major doubt, Harry Maguire is unable to get a league start for Man Utd, and John Stones has had his injury options. The area is arguably the weakest in the England line-up.
It’s therefore a surprise to many that Southgate hasn’t offered Chris Smalling a route back into the squad. The defender has not featured for five years dating back to 2017, but his form for Jose Mourinho’s Roma could give something for Southgate to chew on over the next month.
Smalling's experience combined with his goalscoring threat from set-pieces - he's scored in his last two Serie A games - means the 32-year-old could be a valuable option, especially if injuries prevent other players from making the squad. He was recently out at 25/1 in the betting, but now one bookmaker has backed him into 8/1, although he's still available at 20/1 with bet365.
From a centre-back angle, another player who never seems to catch Southgate’s attention is Lewis Dunk, who is out at 33/1.
Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham)
Staying with the backline, could Ryan Sessegnon force his way into frame? Yes, Southgate isn’t exactly short of options in the wing-back area, but left-sided Sessegnon has grabbed attention playing under Antonio Conte this season and could provide Southgate with some food for thought.
The versatile 22-year-old, who can play on either flank, has always been an exciting prospect from an attacking perspective, given his pace, energy and trickery. But with Conte at the helm of Spurs, Sessegnon has matured defensively and was named Man of the Match in the 1-0 win over Brighton last weekend. There’s still plenty of scope for improvement and training with Ivan Perisic everyday should only quicken his development.
The left-back slot is yet to be nailed down because Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell haven’t played regularly this season. Sessegnon can still be backed at a double-figure price of 10/1 with bet365.
Ruben Loftus Cheek (Chelsea)
Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham are nailed on in the middle of the park, but the options after that are pretty few and far between: Jordan Henderson and James Ward-Prowse have endured a slow start to the season, while Kalvin Phillips is injured. This is where Ruben Loftus Cheek could fit in.
The 20/1 shot has featured in all eight of Chelsea Premier League matches so far this season and has impressed under new Blues boss Graham Potter, particularly in the 3-0 victories over AC Milan and Wolves. An intelligent player with excellent positional awareness, the versatile Loftus Cheek is able to play centre-midfield, defensive midfield, in a more attack-minded position or even wing-back, which is sure to appeal to Southgate.
The 26-year-old, who has 10 caps for his country under Southgate and briefly played at the 2018 World Cup, is hitting form at the right time. He offers something a little bit different and could be a viable option in the latter stages of matches.
Callum Wilson (Newcastle)
We all know that Harry Kane is the main man in attack, with the skipper heading into the tournament as the 8/1 favourite in the World Cup Top Scorer Odds.
Southgate only employs the one traditional striker and is unlikely to change this, so the scramble is for the back-up places is on.
Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney are both in the mix, as are Marcus Rashford and Jarrod Bowen who can each play centrally or on the wing. However, none of that quartet featured on the field in England’s last two matches, which could raise the hopes of Callum Wilson, a player many expected to receive a call-up only for an untimely injury to rule him out.
“I think there’s time for Callum to make the World Cup squad,” his club boss Eddie Howe said recently.
“And I know Gareth feels the same. What does he have to do? He has to return and score and be consistent in his availability. Maybe he has to have a bit of luck somewhere else to make that plane.”
Staying injury free is always going to be a thorn to prod poor Wilson with. But as for his eye for goal, when he plays he tends to score. Just ask Newcastle fans, who have seen the striker hit the back of the net three times - plus an assist - in five matches this season, including the 3-3 thriller against Man City.
At 8/1, Wilson is definitely one to watch should he continue his impressive goalscoring displays. He’s also very good at penalties, and is yet to miss for the Toon since switching from Bournemouth in 2020 (6/6).