World Cup 2022: Gallagher in with a chance of making Qatar squad
We're now less than eight months away from the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The prospect of a very first winter tournament conjures images of big coats, hats, gloves and scarves populating freezing cold beer gardens all over the country.
After the success of Southgate's Three Lions at last summer's European Championships, they will be raring to go one better this time around. But the big question on everybody's lips remains: who will be boarding the 6h 40m flight to Doha as part of England's 23-man squad?
We've honed in on one particular player, Conor Gallagher, who has recently received back-to-back senior international call ups for his nation's two March friendlies, discussing why the Chelsea loanee may offer some potential value for making the cut come October 20th.
Midfielder's Prices to Make the 23-Man England Squad
- Mason Mount: 1/10
- Declan Rice: 1/10
- Kalvin Phillips: 1/4
- Jude Bellingham: 1/4
- Jordan Henderson: 2/5
- Emile Smith-Rowe: 13/8
- Conor Gallagher: 2/1
- James Ward-Prowse: 5/2
- Oliver Skipp: 4/1
- James Maddison: 4/1
- Dele Alli: 5/1
Most Goal Contributions By English Midfielders This Season
1. Conor Gallagher - 8G & 4A
2. Mason Mount - 8G 3A
3. James Maddison - 8G 2A
4. Emile Smith-Rowe - 9G 0A
5. Jude Bellingham - 3G 3A
6. Jordan Henderson - 2G 3A
7. Declan Rice - 1G 3A
What's most impressive about Gallagher's returns this campaign is two things: 1) it's only his second season playing in the Premier League and 2) he's doing it in a side who have completely shifted directions, from the kind of manager they appoint and the type of players they recruit to the way they approach a football match.
CG has been an instrumental part of this transition and success. His box-to-box midfield role has allowed him the tools to make things happen at one end, while ensuring things are quieter when it comes to duties in his side's own half of the pitch.
Per 90, he is manufacturing 2.87 shot-creating actions for his Palace teammates. Compare this to figures from the likes of Henderson (2.71), Rice (1.70) and Phillips (1.76) and you have the solution to a common problem of England teams new and old when it comes to unlocking defences in tight or incredibly one-sided affairs.
Of course it's not always about a player's attacking output that should dictate whether they deserve an international call up or not, but it certainly helps him stand out among a crowd that can often feel very "samey".
To Start England's First World Cup 2022 Match
But you only have to take a look at his defensive stats to know he can also cut it with the more prominent names in England's midfield setup in this area too:
Defensive Stats For English Midfielders 2021/22 Campaign
Conor Gallagher - Tackles per 90 (2.58), Pressures per 90 (26.03), Interceptions per 90 (1.44), Blocks per 90 (1.79)
Declan Rice - Tackles per 90 (2.33), Pressures per 90 (14.59), Interceptions per 90 (2.76), Blocks per 90 (1.73)
Jordan Henderson - Tackles per 90 (1.23), Pressures per 90 (15.63), Interceptions per 90 (1.63), Blocks per 90 (1.08)
Kalvin Phillips - Tackles per 90 (2.95), Pressures per 90 (29.64), Interceptions per 90 (2.21), Blocks per 90 (2.44)
There is more to numbers when building a case for a player's inclusion, like suitability and attitude as just two examples. The level of club each individual plays for can also be a large factor in how their performances appear in data form.
Yet every potential test you could throw at Conor Gallagher, he has passed with flying colours. He's outperforming his Three Lions counterparts in a number of key areas - especially ones that you would consider vital in Southgate's framework for his revitalised team.
His individual qualities both on and off the ball fit the bill for how the 51-year-old has moulded the national side since 2016. Thumbing through the betting markets opens up more potential value as the loanee is 5/1 with Betfair to start England's first game at the World Cup.
Stranger things have happened, with Jude Bellingham being the most recent example of an unexpected inclusion who is now priced at odds on with bookmakers, whether it be to start or make tournament squads at senior level.
If the 22-year-old continues his fine form this season and wherever he may be playing his football next season, in addition to featuring in March's international friendlies, one or both are a real possibility. But whatever happens, we'll certainly be seeing and hearing a lot from Conor Gallagher in an England shirt in the near future.