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Gareth Southgate has left his England stars sweating on their World Cup places.
Southgate will name his final 26-man squad for Qatar 2022 tomorrow (November 10) – but even those set to be included have not been told. The Three Lions boss has been at pains to keep his list of names top secret – and will text those who have made the final cut to put them out of their misery just hours before the squad is made public.
Southgate is not expected to spring any major surprises as he bids to lead England to World Cup glory this winter. But he has some defensive holes to fill – having seen Chelsea duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell ruled out injured.
READ MORE: England fans think Gareth Southgate is 'out of his mind' for inclusion in 55-man squad
Southgate is expected to include Trent Alexander-Arnold and the versatile Ben White along with Kyle Walker, despite the fact the Manchester City full back is still recovering from a groin operation.
Kalvin Phillips is also set to be included, having told Southgate he is close to returning to full fitness again after missing most of the season with a shoulder problem.
But Southgate could name an extra midfielder at the expense of a defender to provide cover for Phillips, whose lack of action remains a concern.
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The favourite to get the nod is Southampton's James Ward-Prowse, with Southgate reluctant to recall James Maddison, who has not been named in a squad since 2019.
Marcus Rashford will be included in the squad following his return to form, along with Manchester United team-mate Harry Maguire. And Southgate is also expected to select Callum Wilson as back-up striker to captain Harry Kane.
James admitted he was devastated to miss out on his first World Cup due to a knee injury sustained against AC Milan last month. He was ruled out following a telephone conversation with Southgate, who wasn't willing to risk taking him.
James said: "The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight.
"I've worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance of going and truly believed I could help the team. Good luck to the boys. I'll be back soon."
The England squad flies to Qatar on Tuesday ahead of their opening group game against Iran on November 21.
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- England Football Team
- World Cup
- Gareth Southgate
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