Here's who stats say should really be going to World Cup with England

Harrison over Sterling and Eze instead of Henderson, with Ward and Cresswell in the full-back conversation… as Southgate names his England squad, here’s who the STATS say should go to Qatar

  • Sportsmail has statistically analysed the players who should be going to Qatar
  • England boss Gareth Southgate is set to name his 26-man squad on Thursday 
  • The numbers have thrown up several surprising names as potential inclusions
  • Stats suggest Jack Harrison should be preferred to Raheem Sterling on the wing
  • Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze has out-performed Jordan Henderson in midfield
  • While Aaron Cresswell and Joel Ward could be options in the full-back positions 
  • Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates

The odds of James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Aaron Cresswell and James Maddison starting together in the same England team at the Qatar World Cup seems infinitesimally small.  

But if Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate goes by statistics alone, all four could and perhaps should be named in the line-up for the competition.

Of course, form is temporary and class is permanent, with Southgate known to stick by players he trusts from previous tournaments regardless of form, like Jordan Pickford, Raheem Sterling and the under-fire Harry Maguire.

So with the above quartet potentially unlikely to even be named in the official 26-man squad, there is an air of the improbable about some of the suggestions mentioned – especially the likes of Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward, for example.

Despite this, Sportsmail has taken a deep dive into the numbers to analyse how England hopefuls have performed in the Premier League this season – and pinpoint which under-the-radar stars aren’t being considered but maybe should be.

England manager Gareth Southgate is set to name his World Cup squad on Thursday afternoon

Sportsmail has taken a deep dive into the numbers to assess who the stats say should really be going – with Jack Harrison (left) outperforming Raheem Sterling at the moment

Statistics also suggest Eberechi Eze should be named in midfield instead of Jordan Henderson 


Jordan Pickford is the clear and undisputed first choice between the sticks for England. 

Even if the Everton stopper were in bad club form – which he was at points last season – Southgate would have stuck by him, but the 28-year-old has been in fine form for the Toffees and is almost nailed-on to start.

Newcastle’s Nick Pope seems to be No 2 and is part of the Premier League’s joint best defence, with just 11 goals conceded so far this campaign.

There are some justified concerns about his ability with the ball at his feet, and he made an error to allow Kai Havertz to score a last-minute equaliser against Germany in their last match before the World Cup, but he is generally a capable deputy.

Where it gets extremely close is the battle for the third-choice goalkeeper, with Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Dean Henderson both given a statistical rating of exactly 6.89.

Ramsdale’s Gunners are top of the league and have kept more clean sheets, but former Manchester United player Henderson has made fewer errors, more saves and even saved two penalties – which could be useful come the World Cup knockouts.

It’s close between Aaron Ramsdale and Dean Henderson as No 3 – graphic by:


Delving into the numbers for the centre backs also throws up some interesting names. Manchester City’s John Stones is definitely on the plane, with the statistics backing up that status.

Elsewhere, Everton’s James Tarkowski (7.25/10) and Brentford’s Ben Mee (7.11/10) are in the top three performers alongside Stones after free transfers to a new club this summer.

Tarkowski is integral to the new-found solidity of Frank Lampard’s side – and performing better than team-mate and Southgate favourite Conor Coady – while Mee, 33 and never capped, is a key defensive lieutenant for Bees boss Thomas Frank.

Aston Villa duo Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa and Brighton pair Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster are out of contention, but are similarly rated to struggling Red Devils captain Harry Maguire, who is likely to travel.

Tottenham’s Eric Dier is also expected to be named, despite similar marks to Joe Gomez, Fikayo Tomori, Coady, Ben White and Marc Guehi.

Southgate will probably name converted full-back Kyle Walker, Stones, Maguire, Dier, and one or two of Coady, White and Guehi in his centre half stocks. 

Tarkowski and Mee are among the top performing centre backs – graphic by:


At right back, the situation is quite clear. Kieran Trippier is virtually guaranteed to go. Trent Alexander-Arnold could well be included for his attacking and creative output despite concerns over his defensive ability, given the injury to Reece James.

City defender Walker, meanwhile, is very likely to go even if he has not fully recovered from an injury worry – but a surprise name is rated better than him in the Premier League this season and could be in the conversation: Crystal Palace’s Ward.

The 33-year-old Eagles stalwart has made 261 top-flight appearances and is a seasoned, committed and professional defender. Even the most die-hard Palace fans, however, would say he should be on the plane ahead of Walker.

At left back, things are more up in the air, with several candidates vying to be backup to Luke Shaw after Ben Chilwell’s injury.

West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell (7.09) is even outperforming United’s Shaw (6.93) and so arguably, based on the numbers, should be at the very least included in the conversation to go to Qatar, and is a decent shout to be Shaw’s deputy.

James Justin is the next-best performing in statistical terms but picked up a knock in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, leaving Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell, Newcastle’s Dan Burn and Tottenham’s Ryan Sessegnon as other options for Southgate.

Joel Ward and Aaron Cresswell are surprise shouts at full back – graphic by:

Crystal Palace veteran Joel Ward (pictured) is a shock name in the conversation at full-back


There are dozens of stars jostling for a midfield position in the England squad.

Three big names are almost certain to go: Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Mason Mount, but after that things get trickier.

Leicester’s James Maddison’s average rating (7.52/10) dwarfs even Bellingham’s rating of 7.37, but has not been capped since 2019 and looks out of favour despite backing from fans and pundits, amid reported concerns about his attitude.

It would be a big surprise if Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson did not make the cut – but based on the stats, Crystal Palace’s Eberechi Eze, Southampton’s set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse and Newcastle’s Joe Willock have a decent case to move ahead of him in the pecking order.

With Henderson potentially fourth choice anyway, a wildcard like Eze or Willock to be the difference-maker off the bench could be a shrewd move.

Among the ‘best of the rest’ are Villa’s Jacob Ramsey, Morgan Gibbs-White, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Conor Gallagher and Ryan Yates.

Probably out of contention are Fulham’s Harrison Reed, Blues playmaker Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Bournemouth’s Lewis Cook. Southgate will have to make a big call on whether Kalvin Phillips is fit enough to be named in the squad too.

James Maddison, Eberechi Eze and James Ward-Prowse, all on the fringes of the squad, are statistically performing better than Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson. Graphic by:


Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish will definitely be named if fit – and Southgate’s feelings on his wingers are backed up by the statistics, with that trio the best-performing triumvirate of wide players in the league at the moment.

After that? It’s up for grabs. Chelsea’s Raheem Sterling is potentially the third-most secure pick in the entire squad – after skipper Harry Kane and Declan Rice – but has not been hitting the high standards he would expect so far, with a rating of just 6.66.

That figure is surpassed by eight others hoping to be named, but is unlikely to have an effect on Southgate’s thinking.

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford is playing his way back into form and could well travel, given his ability to play as a striker as well.

Everton’s Demarai Gray and Liverpool wonderkid Harvey Elliott are doing well under the radar too.

Otherwise, Jarrod Bowen, Anthony Gordon, Harvey Barnes, Jadon Sancho and even Leeds’ Jack Harrison are all out-performing Blues star Sterling currently – but are out of contention regardless. 

Plenty of stars are out-doing Chelsea winger Raheem Sterling. Graphic by:


Up top, the equation is simple. Harry Kane goes. One or possibly two others will follow.

Roma’s Tammy Abraham was in pole position a few months ago, but just two goals in 13 Serie A appearances for Jose Mourinho’s side this season might scupper his World Cup hopes.

The next cabs off the rank are Newcastle’s Callum Wilson and Brentford’s Ivan Toney. Both are seemingly in the form of their lives and banging in goals in the Premier League.

But Toney’s average rating of 7.24 – and his peerless record taking penalties – could see him eclipse Wilson (7.05), particularly given the Magpies No 9’s fitness concerns.

After that, Aston Villa’s Danny Ings and Bournemouth hotshot Dominic Solanke are outside contenders. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Welbeck, Adam Armstrong, Ollie Watkins and Patrick Bamford are very unlikely to make it.

Ivan Toney and Callum Wilson are competing to be striking backup. Graphic by:

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