What does it take to make England’s World Cup squad?
English players simply need to rack up a pre-determined set of stats in the Premier League this season to book a place on the plane to Russia. Based on the England selections for the last two World Cups, figures show that players have to hit certain targets in the Premier League to receive a call-up.
Setting the bar
Burnley’s Nick Pope is the only English goalkeeper who has already amassed the 10 clean sheets in the Premier League that were needed to be the Three Lions’ first choice shot stopper in each of the last two World Cups.
In the run-up to the 2010 tournament, England number one Joe Hart notched 10 top-flight shutouts and increased that tally to 13 in the season leading up to Brazil 2014. Struggling to maintain that form this time around, the West Ham man has managed just three this campaign.
Behind this season’s high-achiever Pope stands Jordan Pickford on seven, closely followed by fellow hopeful Jack Butland with six.
Appearances are everything
The defensive core of any team must be thorough and well-rehearsed, with no better way to ensure this than regular game time. All of the defenders in the running for this year’s World Cup squad should aim to play at least 29 games for their club this season, with only two fitting the bill already - Alfie Mawson and Harry Maguire.
The Swansea and Leicester central defenders are standing strong on 30 appearances, with England regular right-back Kyle Walker and left-back Aaron Cresswell both one off the mark with 28 – making up a complete back line for Gareth Southgate.
Chelsea man Gary Cahill is surprisingly lower down the list of appearance-makers this season but he can just about fulfil the criteria for a call-up should he play in all of the Blues’ remaining league games.
Six set-ups for the call-up
Higher up the pitch, players who have already done enough to make the plane are midfielders Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe and Mark Albrighton with at least six league assists. Alli is the runaway leader in the Premier League this season with nine so far, followed by Sterling and Albrighton on seven, and Ibe just hitting the half-dozen magic mark.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be looking to get the nod and only needs one more to total six assists, with the only other player in obvious contention being Jesse Lingard, who is one behind.
Netting the numbers
Nobody wins games without goals and 14 is the number to cut it, though it seems England are covered already with Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.
The latter only just cuts the mustard, while England fans will be praying that Kane’s recent injury doesn’t keep him out of contention, as the Spurs star sits pretty on 24 – two behind the 26 bagged by Rooney leading up to South Africa 2010.
The other strikers on double league figures are surprise names, such as Glenn Murray, who has hit the net 11 times in 2017/18 and Wayne Rooney – but England’s record goal scorer has retired from international duty, leaving the likes of Marcus Rashford and Charlie Austin to try and step up in time for Russia.
Looking back at England’s last two World Cup squads, it’s clear what was required to make the grade so it’s interesting to see who is on track this time around. Despite some obvious names, there are also a couple of surprises, which might be just what England need to freshen up their squad and put in some inspiring performances.
We can see who is on course for selection but, with a few league games still left to play this season, there could be just enough time for some of the chasing pack to make a claim.