Regardless of the tournament, national team roster announcements make headlines. That can be for the better. Or, just as easily, that can be due to possible omissions.
The latter stands out with two key English players not on the selection sheet. This suggests that England manager Gareth Southgate made some mistakes in choosing his 26-man squad for the World Cup in Qatar.
The case of England making a mistake in team selection
In Italy, AC Milan defender Fikayo Tomori is probably feeling bad. He is one of the key names who will not be on the plane to Qatar later this month. Tomori has been in top form for the Rossoneri. The Canadian, a former Chelsea player, was expected to add to his current tally of three caps this summer.
Indeed, many people considered Tomori to start alongside John Stones at the heart of England’s defence. He would make his World Cup debut in that opener against Iran on November 21 at the renovated Khalifa International Stadium.
The 24-year-old has certainly risen to fame since moving to Italy. He suffered a stuttering start to his career in England. Chelsea sent him out on three loan spells. That includes one at Derby in 2018/19, where the club voted him player of the year for that campaign. But, despite his starring role on loan from him, he failed to make steady progress in his return to Stamford Bridge.
Moving around Europe was initially a loan move in January 2021. The six-foot centre-back has since become a confident defender. He is currently the most successful tackler in any of Europe’s top five leagues since the start of the 2021/22 season. However, he is just as skillful with the ball as he is without it. Milan knows that he is a good player. The club secured his services until 2027.
Many see Tomori’s omission as the biggest mistake of the England squad in the World Cup. He surely hurts the 24-year-old. However, it is inevitable that the centre-back will be left out of England’s squad for a long time. He will don the England kit in the not too distant future.
Another face missing from the team who may feel aggrieved is Brentford talisman Ivan Toney. The nomadic striker had eight clubs before joining his current employer, Brentford. There, he found a comfortable place to call home in West London.
Toney joined the Bees in the summer of 2020. In that first season, he hit the net 31 times for Brentford. He joined the club when Brentford struggled in the Championship. His performances launched the club into the top flight for the first time in decades.
However, his prowess in front of goal continued in the top flight. Toney added a further 20 goals to his tally, and all of those goals have come in fewer than 100 league games.
It’s hard to ignore such a prolific count. Toney has more goals than Marcus Rashford and Callum Wilson this season. Also, he scored more than those two players in 2021/22.
So apart from Tottenham striker Harry Kane, Toney is the second most prolific English striker today. Surprisingly, Southgate selected only two outright strikers: Kane and the aforementioned Callum Wilson. Questions arise about where the goals come from in the event of injury to one or both of those players.
Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and James Maddison are successful in finding the net. However, they are not focal points in their clubs’ attacking options. Plus, the Three Lions aren’t exactly smashing goals from all angles lately. So Toney has all the more reason to make the trip to Qatar.
Ahead of the World Cup, Southgate’s side have managed just four goals in their last six games with three of those coming in their last game against Germany. So keeping Toney at home could be a mistake that could cost Southgate and England dearly.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Action Plus
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