Since that disastrous penalty shootout in the European Championship final against Italy last July, Marcus Rashford has not attempted a single field goal for England. Jadon Sancho has only made one appearance. The Manchester United duo are really out of time to force their way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup preparations after being left out of his most recent roster.
Both have helped United improve recently as they bounced back from a rough start under manager Erik ten Hag, but it wasn’t enough to get them called up for this month’s Nations League matches against Germany and Italy, which are England’s final two matches before their World Cup opener against Iran on November 21.
After the announcement, Rashford tweeted that he will not be participating in this round of England duty “since I’ve picked up an untimely injury,” adding that he had already missed United’s opening two Europa League games against Real Sociedad last week and FC Sheriff tonight. However, this does not alter the fact that Southgate selected his team with the expectation that Rashford would be healthy.
After a strong start to the season with Brentford, Ivan Toney was chosen as the starter, earning his first call-up to any level of England.
Harry Maguire’s struggles at United have persisted into the new season, but Southgate has once again demonstrated his loyalty by keeping him. However, once a player has lost his favor, it is not usually simple to win it back.
While Maguire’s United performance has been a cause for concern, he has been a crucial member of this England side for five years and has consistently been one of their most brilliant players. In regards to Phillips, the same may be stated.
Club level performance is vital, but the manager will not abandon players who have earned his devotion over a longer period.
With just one goal (a Kane penalty) in those four mainly disappointing Nations League games in June, England has struggled to score goals. Their attacking play needs more harmony, which Southgate must discover. Despite Raheem Sterling, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, and Jarrod Bowen’s strengths, the ideal combination has not yet been discovered.
The midfield, where Jordan Henderson is out due to injury, is once again shrouded in doubt.
In the European Championship, Phillips and Declan Rice made an impression. However, after struggling with injuries at Leeds the previous season, Phillips is yet to establish any sort of rhythm at City following his £42 million ($48.2 million) summer transfer.
Although Jude Bellingham, a 19-year-old midfielder for Borussia Dortmund, has had a strong start to the season, Southgate will be ready to give him some playing time and evaluate his level of performance.
Dier and Conor Coady’s participation in this team signals a back three is preferred, although the lineup is less distinct than it was 15 months ago at the Euros, when Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Harry Maguire all performed well.
Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori of AC Milan have successfully pushed their way into the team, leaving Ben White, Tyrone Mings, and Kilman on the outside looking in. Whether they can then compel their way into the starting lineup is the question. If Maguire’s performance at United does not improve, there needs to be at least a backup plan.
One position where Southgate’s objectives are obvious is goalkeeper.
Jordan Pickford’s position as first choice is secure because, like Maguire, he has excelled for England over a five-year period and has developed into a far more confident figure at Everton. However, the recent performances of Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale, and Dean Henderson have sparked discussion in some circles.
Concerns are raised by Pickford’s absence from this team due to a thigh injury, but Pope, Ramsdale, and Henderson will all be eager to stake down strong positions as his primary backups in Qatar.
To avoid placing last in their Nations League group and being dropped to the second tier of the league for the next season in 2024–2025, England must win at least one of these games. In addition, the four games at the close of the previous campaign culminated in an embarrassing, chaotic 4-0 home loss to Hungary, which saw Southgate jeered by England’s fans.