England manager Gareth Southgate is set to announce his 26-man squad for the World Cup at 2pm on Thursday, November 10. With just a week and a half to go until the Three Lions take on their Group B opener against Iran, it has reached the point where the all-important decisions need to be made.
Southgate had originally put together a private 55-man shortlist to help him with his choices and names from that have since been leaked into the media. Just yesterday (November 9), the Daily Telegraph revealed that 37-year-old Aston Villa defender Ashley Young was among those on that particular list.
As is the nature of a 29-man cut to a register, Young is unlikely to be one of those who actually makes it on the plane to Qatar. There are a few other Villans hopefuls, however, and we’ll get onto those soon. For now, it’s worth noting one key player - albeit not from Villa - won’t be able to compete.
Yesterday it was confirmed that Chelsea right-back Reece James, one of England’s star men, will miss out on a place in the side. He had been fighting to return in time but a knee injury sustained in the Blues’ 2-0 win over AC Milan a few weeks ago has ruled him out.
Other than James, there aren’t too many key players who look unlikely to be sidelined through injury whilst the World Cup is underway, and so there will be just as much competition for places as usual. With that in mind, here are the Villa players who could be in contention - not necessarily those who are seen as a certainty.
Which Aston Villa players could be named in the England World Cup squad?
In our view, there are three Villa players with a real chance of going to the World Cup, with honourable mentions to Ezri Konsa, Jacob Ramsey and Danny Ings. We’ve got to be realistic, though. Here are the three:
As one of those reportedly in Southgate’s 55-man roster, Young could genuinely be in contention. This is due to his immense levels of experience, his time with England before, and his versatility.
With James out, he’s not exactly a star replacement but is a useful player who could feature at either full-back or wing-back. As proved this season against Nottingham Forest, Young can also be a set-piece threat, too.
The 29-year-old has been an England regular over the last few years and could keep his place after some impressive displays in the Premier League recently. There had been a little concern over his form at the start of the campaign but they have since been revoked.
Mings was one of those who particularly starred as Villa beat Manchester United in Unai Emery’s first match. Southgate, as a Villans supporter himself, would have undoubtedly been keeping an eye on that clash. There are plenty of others in contention, though, and Mings will likely battle it out with the likes of Fikayo Tomori, Conor Coady, Marc Guehi, Dan Burn and Joe Gomez for a spot.
Just like Mings, Watkins has often been selected in Southgate’s Three Lions squads over recent years. He may face strengthened competition this time around, though with just two goals and three assists in 14 appearances this term.
Harry Kane (11G, 2A) is a certainty to take one spot but the likes of Ivan Toney (8G, 2A), Callum Wilson (6G, 3A) and Marcus Rashford (4G, 2A) have all out scored and out assisted Watkins. He does offer great physicality and versatility, though, and still has a slim chance of making it on the plane.