The first-ever Winter World Cup kicks off three weeks today, on Sunday 20 November when Qatar take on Ecuador. Huge game. While the final squads have to be submitted one week prior to that on Sunday 13 November.
That means the race is on for players to be fit and raring to go for the tournament in Qatar – which begs the question, who should make England’s 2022 World Cup squad? Picking a final 26-man squad is no easy feat, and I don’t envy Gareth Southgate’s decision. So what better than to let a computer do the hard work for us and him? Over to you Football Manager 2023.
FM23’s England Squad for World Cup 2022
I’ve run a few FM Experiments, using the game to see what might happen at World Cup 2022. So I took a look at the first squad selected by the virtual Gareth Southgate for the big tournament.
Dubious Picks and Significant Omissions
Virtual Southgate’s squad selection saw some significant squad omissions that, in real life, are never going to happen. The biggest of those was Mason Mount being very dubiously overlooked in favour of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who seems like the riskiest possible pick for a major tournament. That is not happening in real life!
Pending fitness, two more players unlikely to miss out in real life are Kieran Trippier and Reece James, who the game strangely puts behind James Justin in the full-back pecking order (it also did this in my ongoing AS Roma beta save). And I checked, James definitely wasn’t injured but didn’t make the World Cup squad! Other significant omissions include the likes of Jack Grealish, Luke Shaw, Jadon Sancho, Jarrod Bowen and Nick Pope.
The striker situation was interesting as FM23 selected three out-and-out strikers as backups for Harry Kane, in Tammy Abraham, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ivan Toney. Three backup strikers feels a little overkill and I’d be very surprised if Southgate did that.
My England World Cup Squad
You may be thinking, who would you pick in England’s squad for Qatar 2022? Well, here is my 26-man World Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale
Right-backs: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker
Centre-backs: Eric Dier, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Ben White
Left-backs: Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison, Mason Mount, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse
Wingers: Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling
Strikers: Harry Kane, Ivan Toney, Callum Wilson
This squad considers people in good form – with Callum Wilson a very late addition this morning! – which made me very dubious about picking Sterling – but there’s no way Southgate actually leaves him out. It also emits the likes of Rashford and Sancho, who I simply don’t rate or don’t trust. While it obviously relies on the likes of James and Walker being fit. I’m a little bit concerned about the centre-back situation and players like Gallagher I’m not 100% certain on, while I’d like to see people like Guéhi and Eze selected, but getting them in the squad may be tricky. But overall, I think the squad offers decent balance.
My squad is also built on the basis of playing a 4-3-3, as I hate seeing England play three at the back. I think it offers decent flexibility, with Maddison and Mount capable of playing on the wings if needed and Trippier, James and Walker able to cover different positions across the defence. And my starting 11 would be:
Who would be in your England 26-man squad? And who do you want to see in the starting 11? Let us know in the Comments below!