England squad: Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Eric Dier face defining moment as Gareth Southgate concludes his World Cup selection | football news

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho are pressing for an England call-up, as Gareth Southgate prepares for the final team selection ahead of the World Cup.

It is a fundamental decision for the England manager. If either of them are left out of the Nations League matches against Italy and Germany this month, it is difficult to see them in Southgate’s selection for Qatar in two months’ time.

There are question marks over Rashford’s fitness, however, as he was left out of the Manchester United squad traveling to Sheriff for Thursday’s Europa League group stage match.

It seems increasingly likely that Tottenham’s Eric Dier will be introduced again to this team, although his exile to England now extends to nearly two years.

Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott and Brentford’s Evan Toni are often on the England boss’ thoughts, although it is a matter of whether either will be included at this point.

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England manager Gareth Southgate picks his final squad ahead of the World Cup on Thursday

The choices the England boss makes will now give strong clues about his plans for Qatar, with only four full international training sessions before he selects 26 players to represent their country in their first Winter World Cup.

So – while Southgate might name a larger-than-usual team, so he can make final assessments on one or two marginal players – don’t expect to call up a host of new test faces.

Is there room for Rashford and Sancho?

Jadon Sancho fired in third for Manchester United against Crystal Palace after being played by Anthony Martial.
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Jadon Sancho (left) and Marcus Rashford have been in good shape since the start of the season

Sancho was a regular in England until the European Championship final 14 months ago when he and Rashford missed penalties in the decisive match against Italy.

Sancho’s level declined the following season at Old Trafford, as happened with the England national team.

But the 22-year-old former Borussia Dortmund winger has bounced back from a long slump, and his overall play is even better than his stats suggest – he’s scored two goals in six Premier League games so far this season. .

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Take a look at Jadon Sancho’s amazing goal against Liverpool from all angles. The 22-year-old opened the scoring in Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Jurgen Klopp’s men.

His United teammate has an even more impressive recent record. Under new United boss Eric Ten Hag, Rashford scored five goals in six Premier League matches (three goals and two assists).

If they return to the England fold, the pressure will be on the Manchester United duo to prove they deserve a place in the World Cup. This is truly their last chance to convince Southgate that they deserve their place, in one of the most competitive positions in the England squad.

Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Mason Mount – they are all still some distance ahead of Rashford and Sancho in the England selection standings now.

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were subjected to racist abuse on social media after England's defeat in the Euro 2020 final.
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Will Sancho and Rashford be influential players in England – or are they worth starting?

Although Jarrod Bowen’s difficult start to the season with West Ham could cost him his place in England this time around, which means it’s a long shot at securing a place on the flight to Qatar.

Southgate liked Tony

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brentford’s win over Leeds in the Premier League.

Rashford was used as the lone striker by Ten Hag, so if he was called up by England, would another striker miss?

Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Patrick Bamford and Callum Wilson are all out of the picture, so Tammy Abraham is expected to retain his spot, despite his declining form with Roma. Southgate sees him as the now natural alternative to Harry Kane.

With Southgate watching from the stands, Abraham was forced off the field with a shoulder strain last weekend against Udinese. But the injury was not serious, and the 24-year-old returned with the winner against Empoli on Monday night.

Tammy Abraham
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Tammy Abraham has been in great shape with Roma this season

When it comes to Tony, Sky Sports News The England boss was said to have impressed – as did many critics – the best of Brentford’s top scorer. His season stats outperform even Rashford: Toni has scored five goals in the Premier League and two assists so far.

The 26-year-old’s stellar performance dates back to last season as well – he’s scored 13 goals in the Premier League since January. This makes it difficult to ignore.

Evan Toni celebrates a draw
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Evan Toni was a tough player for Gareth Southgate to avoid

Is this Dyer’s big chance?

With Harry Maguire in the mud (he hasn’t started a Premier League game in a month and appears to be lacking in confidence) Southgate has a problem in defence.

John Stones and Kyle Walker both have minor injuries and should therefore be evaluated before any England call-up. If included, their playing time may have to be measured.

It all serves Dyer. His consistently impressive performances with Spurs – towards the end of last season and at the beginning of this – mean he is arguably the most qualified England centre-back at the moment. It was before the last team selection, too, in May, when Southgate admitted he was close to being called up.

Eric Dier was in good shape with Tottenham
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Eric Dier was in good shape with Tottenham

But the England boss also noted that Antonio Conte uses Dier in a somewhat specialized position – a three-defender midfield – and that England often switch between this formation and a four-defender.

“We know Eric, and we don’t know some of the youngsters,” Southgate explained his omission in May. Dier has not played for the England national team since November 2020.

No problems in midfield

Conor Gallagher shows his disappointment after England's 4-0 loss
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Conor Gallagher is having a hard wait to see if he gets the degree

The main question here will be whether Conor Gallagher has done enough to hold his place. He probably has, and he hopes new Chelsea boss Graham Potter will give him as much game time as Thomas Tuchel did.

Calvin Phillips’ return to fitness would be a huge relief for Southgate – he missed football for a month with a shoulder injury, but came off the bench for Manchester City late in their Champions League win over Sevilla last week.

Medical staff in England will have to carefully handle Phillips’ workload, with his return to match his fitness.

Elsewhere, it’s probably regular midfield players like Declan Rice, Judd Bellingham, Mount and James Ward-Prowse.

Easy choices on goal

With England’s top seed Jordan Pickford absent with a thigh injury, it will be an opportunity for someone else to make their claim as a first-choice alternative.

No surprises here – expect Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale and Dean Henderson.

Will any young player get the score?

Harvey Elliott
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Harvey Elliott could receive his first England call-up this fall

Unlike his predecessor, Roy Hodgson, Southgate’s instinct is to name a larger first team in the event of any subsequent injury withdrawals, rather than making late calls to players initially out of camp.

Besides, the England coach always seeks to promote talent from under-21s, and the logistics of this camp may help the 19-year-old Liverpool star, Harvey Elliott.

Elliott is currently part of the Under-21 team, and the friendlies have been organized to mirror the first-team matches: they face Italy away the day before Southgate, and then Germany at home a day after the first team played the same opponent at Wembley.

Elliot’s promotion to the higher ranks at any point would be as smooth as it gets.

Another youngster, Sporting striker Marcus Edwards, sparkled earlier this week with his man of the match, goalscoring and Champions League performance against Tottenham – the club he was released three years ago. But don’t expect a surprise call to him. Until now.

England’s opening World Cup match against Iran takes place in 68 days.