Chris Sutton’s verdict on every player in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man World Cup squad 


Gareth Southgate made some big calls as he revealed his 26-man England squad for the World Cup in Qatar on Thursday.

James Maddison, Callum Wilson and Marcus Rashford were among the headline inclusions after their recent impressive displays for their respective clubs.

While the likes of Harry Maguire and Trent Alexander-Arnold were selected, despite their struggles so far this season.

Sportsmail’s expert Chris Sutton goes through the 26 players and gives his verdict on each of Southgate’s selections. 

Gareth Southgate made some big calls in his 26-man England squad for the Qatar World Cup which starts in just over a week

SUTTON’S SCALE 

1/5 – How did he get in?

2/5 – I’m not sure about that

3/5 – I’ll allow it

4/5 – Good pick

5/5  – Completely deserved

GOALKEEPERS 

Jordan Pickford (Everton)

Southgate’s go-to goalkeeper. He has not let England down. Maybe you worry about him emotionally, but Pickford is a good shot-stopper and has always been good with his feet, as he has shown for Everton.

Rating – 5/5 

Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal) 

Ramsdale deserved this call-up. He has been brilliant for Arsenal when we weren’t really sure how he would cope there after signing from Sheffield United two summers ago. A very good back-up goalkeeper.

Rating – 5/5 

Nick Pope (Newcastle) 

Failed his audition in that 3-3 draw against Germany, but Pope has been super for Newcastle. His heroics in their Carabao Cup penalty shootout win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday were good too!

Rating – 4/5 

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford is England's expected No 1 once again for the World Cup having never let his country down

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford is England’s expected No 1 once again for the World Cup having never let his country down

Aaron Ramsdale has been in excellent form for Arsenal but has done enough to oust Everton keeper Pickford from the team

Aaron Ramsdale has been in excellent form for Arsenal but has done enough to oust Everton keeper Pickford from the team

Nick Pope will be the third choice keeper but proved his worth when saving three penalties for Newcastle in the Carabao Cup

Nick Pope will be the third choice keeper but proved his worth when saving three penalties for Newcastle in the Carabao Cup

DEFENDERS 

Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) 

Three stars on the basis that if Reece James were available, I’m not sure Alexander-Arnold would be in this squad. We know how good he is going forward, but that debate over his defending will rumble on.

Rating – 3/5 

Trent Alexander-Arnold might have missed out on the squad if Reece James wasn't injured but could have a big part to play

Trent Alexander-Arnold might have missed out on the squad if Reece James wasn’t injured but could have a big part to play

Kyle Walker (Man City) 

Not played in more than a month due to a groin injury, which is concerning. But Southgate has taken a chance on the Manchester City full back. Walker is versatile and Southgate will use him.

Rating – 4/5 

Kyle Walker has been risked despite not playing in more than a month with a groin injury with his versatility important

Kyle Walker has been risked despite not playing in more than a month with a groin injury with his versatility important

Kieran Trippier (Newcastle) 

I want to see Trippier starting at right back against Iran in our World Cup opener. He’s got a wonderful delivery, relentless energy down the right and experience in abundance. England need to use him.

Rating – 5/5 

Newcastle right-back Kieran Trippier should start for England against Iran and has a wonderful delivery of the ball

Newcastle right-back Kieran Trippier should start for England against Iran and has a wonderful delivery of the ball

Luke Shaw (Man Utd) 

Good pick. With Ben Chilwell ruled out through injury, England lack options at left back. Shaw’s selection by Southgate was never in doubt with him now starting games for Manchester United under Erik ten Hag.

Rating – 4/5 

Luke Shaw's starting place seems nailed down thanks to the unfortunate injury suffered by Chelsea's Ben Chilwell

Luke Shaw’s starting place seems nailed down thanks to the unfortunate injury suffered by Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell

Ben White (Arsenal) 

Versatility helps White. Need him at centre back? No problem. Right back? He will do a job there, too. White has had a brilliant season for Arsenal and his relationship with Saka will help England if Southgate uses both down that flank.

Rating – 4/5 

Ben White's versatility will be beneficial for England during the World Cup and his partnership with Bukayo Saka could help

Ben White’s versatility will be beneficial for England during the World Cup and his partnership with Bukayo Saka could help

John Stones (Man City) 

Central defence is England’s problem area. It will probably decide if we go deep at this World Cup or not. Stones has been steady for City. He’s a good passer and will most likely start every game for England.

Rating – 4/5 

Manchester City defender John Stones is a steady hand and will likely start every game for England this winter

Manchester City defender John Stones is a steady hand and will likely start every game for England this winter

Conor Coady (Everton) 

Who said Coady can only play in one type of system? Yes, he was excellent in a back three for Wolves, but now he has improved Everton defensively in their back four. He has shown his critics he is a good defender.

Rating – 3/5 

Conor Coady has shown he can play in a back four at Everton after previous criticisms that he could only play in a back five

Conor Coady has shown he can play in a back four at Everton after previous criticisms that he could only play in a back five

Eric Dier (Tottenham) 

Harsh on Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori? Maybe. Dier has made mistakes. But I’ll allow this call-up based on the lack of depth England have in this area. He plays in Spurs’ back three so can do that for his country, too.

Rating – 3/5 

Eric Dier, chosen over Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori plays in a back three for Spurs so he can do that for his country as well

Eric Dier, chosen over Marc Guehi and Fikayo Tomori plays in a back three for Spurs so he can do that for his country as well 

Harry Maguire (Man Utd) 

Look, I like Maguire. But it comes down to the fact that he is not playing games. He didn’t have a great last season for Manchester United and this latest one isn’t much better. We can’t afford to ease people in at World Cups.

Rating – 1/5 

Harry Maguire's inclusion in the squad is surprising given his lack of appearances so far this season for Manchester United

Harry Maguire’s inclusion in the squad is surprising given his lack of appearances so far this season for Manchester United

MIDFIELDERS 

Declan Rice (West Ham) 

Rice has matured as a player and is a good all-rounder. West Ham are lucky to have him bossing their midfield. He will be one of the first names on Southgate’s team sheet. Rightly so, too.

Rating – 5/5 

Declan Rice is now one of the first names on Southgate's team sheet and rightly so as he bosses the midfield for West Ham

Declan Rice is now one of the first names on Southgate’s team sheet and rightly so as he bosses the midfield for West Ham

Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund) 

I can’t wait to see Bellingham in an England shirt this winter. Still only 19, he’s playing beyond his years. There is no debate over whether he should or shouldn’t start next to Rice — he needs to.

Rating – 5/5 

There shouldn't be any debate over whether Jude Bellingham starts for England this winter after his brilliant form in Germany

There shouldn’t be any debate over whether Jude Bellingham starts for England this winter after his brilliant form in Germany

Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) 

I get Henderson’s inclusion. His experience will be crucial for England. He has not had his best season for Liverpool — few have and Henderson would tell you that himself. But he’s someone Southgate can rely on.

Rating – 4/5 

Jordan Henderson's inclusion will be crucial because of his experience despite struggling for form at Liverpool

Jordan Henderson’s inclusion will be crucial because of his experience despite struggling for form at Liverpool 

Conor Gallagher (Chelsea) 

James Ward-Prowse will be disappointed, but Gallagher is clearly talented. He had a tremendous season for Crystal Palace last year and is trying now to make himself a starter for Chelsea. He’s a grafter so I’ll allow this call-up!

Rating – 3/5 

Conor Gallagher is trying to make himself a starter at Chelsea after returning from loan but gets into the England squad

Conor Gallagher is trying to make himself a starter at Chelsea after returning from loan but gets into the England squad

Kalvin Phillips (Man City) 

A pillar of England’s run to the Euro 2020 final, but I’m not sure about this one. It comes down to his lack of game time. A fit Phillips would be five stars, but he has only played one minute of Premier League football this season! It’s a gamble.

Rating – 2/5 

Kalvin Phillips is a gamble having played just one minute of Premier League football this season for Manchester City

Kalvin Phillips is a gamble having played just one minute of Premier League football this season for Manchester City

Mason Mount (Chelsea) 

Not been at his best for Chelsea but he’s very versatile and works extremely hard. Southgate trusts him in and out of possession. That’s why he starts him so often. I want to see a confident Mount for England this winter.

Rating – 4/5 

Mason Mount will be a versatile option and England boss Southgate trusts him for his work both in and out of possession

Mason Mount will be a versatile option and England boss Southgate trusts him for his work both in and out of possession

James Maddison (Leicester) 

I wrote that Maddison had to be selected or it could come back to bite Southgate. It’s a deserved call-up for the numbers he has produced this season in a struggling Leicester side. Good on Southgate for making the right decision.

Rating – 5/5 

James Maddison gets his deserved call-up after his stunning form for Leicester this season going back into the last campaign

James Maddison gets his deserved call-up after his stunning form for Leicester this season going back into the last campaign

FORWARDS 

Harry Kane (Tottenham) 

I don’t blame Kane for being knackered. This season has been relentless for him. Kane has played the third-most minutes in the Premier League behind only Hugo Lloris and Virgil van Dijk. England aren’t the same without him.

Rating – 5/5 

It has been a relentless season for Harry Kane who is said to be tired but England aren't the same without him

It has been a relentless season for Harry Kane who is said to be tired but England aren’t the same without him

Raheem Sterling (Chelsea) 

You have got to have faith in Sterling. He has not had the greatest season for Chelsea but is important for England. Let’s not use him as a left wing-back like Graham Potter please, Southgate.

Rating – 4/5 

Raheem Sterling has not had the best season for Chelsea since his summer move but is hugely important for England

Raheem Sterling has not had the best season for Chelsea since his summer move but is hugely important for England

Phil Foden (Man City) 

Sometimes I wonder if Pep Guardiola leaves Foden out of his team just to mess up our Fantasy Premier League teams! He’s a fabulous player, different to the others, and an obvious choice to go to this World Cup.

Rating – 5/5 

Phil Foden is a wonderful talent who offers something different and is an obvious choice to go to the World Cup for England

Phil Foden is a wonderful talent who offers something different and is an obvious choice to go to the World Cup for England 

Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) 

Five-star Saka. He had to go to this World Cup. His best position at Arsenal has been on that right wing with the ball glued to his left foot. Whether he starts for England or comes on as a substitute, he will have an impact.

Rating – 5/5 

Arsenal sensation Bukayo Saka will make an impact for England whether he is a starter or coming on as a substitute

Arsenal sensation Bukayo Saka will make an impact for England whether he is a starter or coming on as a substitute

Jack Grealish (Man City) 

I’ll allow it. His numbers are not what they should be for a super club like Manchester City, but Grealish is a good player who can change a game if he’s on song. I know that, you know that and Southgate knows that.

Rating – 3/5 

Manchester City's Jack Grealish struggles to pull the numbers but is a player who can change a game if he is on form

Manchester City’s Jack Grealish struggles to pull the numbers but is a player who can change a game if he is on form

Marcus Rashford (Man Utd) 

Another Manchester United player whose confidence seemed so low last season. Rashford is a good pick with his pace. If he gets up to speed, England can use him to good effect down the left.

Rating – 4/5 

Marcus Rashford has worked his way back into the team after he was low on confidence at Manchester United last season

Marcus Rashford has worked his way back into the team after he was low on confidence at Manchester United last season

Callum Wilson (Newcastle) 

It’s the day of the Ws! Walker, White and Wilson have all been picked with Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney overlooked in favour of Wilson. Based on form, he has to be in this squad.

Rating – 5/5 

Callum Wilson, like Maddison has also played himself into the team after his positive displays for Newcastle this year

Callum Wilson, like Maddison has also played himself into the team after his positive displays for Newcastle this year

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