World Cup Clock: Harry Maguire has a day to forget again, the inspired Nick Pope strengthens his chances and Ben Chilwell faces new competition at Chelsea…while Ollie Watkins and Reece James make their claims and Aaron Ramsdale makes a mistake. mistake
- Who is heading to the Qatar World Cup in November? sports mail is up to date
- Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale harbor hopes of being among the goalkeepers
- Reece James and Ollie Watkins are in impressive form at Chelsea and Aston Villa
- Harry Maguire was part of Man United’s last catastrophic defensive display
- Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
With time ticking away for England manager Gareth Southgate to announce his squad for the World Cup in Qatar, now is the make or break time for some of the candidates hoping to be on the plane.
Players who have started the season on a flying note do so knowing that they are strengthening their chances of being in the showpiece, while now is not the time for the Three Lions hopefuls to make mistakes or have surprises.
Sportsmail is keeping an eye on who seems likely to make the squad when the tournament kicks off in November.
Players still have time to secure places at stake in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad
Will choice number three win the two-horse race to become England’s number 1? All the talk in the last 12 months has been about Jordan Pickford v Aaron Ramsdale, but Pope has quietly moved to the front of the queue, making two clean sheets from two after his £10m move to Newcastle.
The 30-year-old has only won eight caps for his country but England have won all eight, conceding once.
The Villa striker’s team-mate, and rival for a seat at the Qatar Express, Danny Ings scored a goal, but it was Watkins who did it, his first of two assists against Everton on Saturday.
His link game and hard running to create space for running backs from midfield will serve him well, giving Gareth Southgate the option to play him at the forward two with Harry Kane.
Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope made several important saves in his team’s draw at Brighton
Forget if James is in the squad because Southgate doesn’t like Trent Alexander-Arnold, right now the Chelsea man is simply the best right-back we’ve got.
Another majestic display yesterday against Spurs, topped off with a goal, tightens his grip on a starting spot.
How long can Maguire’s form last at United before it costs him his place in England? For Brentford’s fourth goal on Saturday, Maguire started on the edge of the hosts’ penalty area, giving Ivan Toney a 20-yard lead on a run the striker could have won at half speed anyway.
Fortunately for Maguire, centre-back is a problematic position, with only AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori and Tottenham’s Eric Dier in anything approaching the club’s fine form.
Harry Maguire (second from right) was part of a disastrous 4-0 defeat for Man United at Brentford
The 24-year-old’s excellent first season at Arsenal was highlighted by a lack of goals conceded that should have made him better.
James Maddison’s shot on Saturday was hard and low, but straight at Ramsdale. This is not the time for him to start letting the shots, and the doubt in Southgate’s mind, creep in.
England are not blessed with left-backs, to the point that Kieran Trippier has spent a lot of time there over the last four years.
But even as the conventional best option, Chilwell will be concerned about the £52.5m arrival of Marc Cucurella, who replaced him in Chelsea’s starting XI yesterday and was a threat throughout, along with Raheem Sterling.