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ENGLAND’S WORLD CUP SQUAD LADDER 1-40: Where do Three Lions players rank after Nations League games

With this Nations League block now done and dusted, there is a lot to ponder from an England perspective.

The Three Lions currently sit bottom of their group – having drawn two and lost two of their four matches. Draws against Germany and Italy were sandwiched by disappointing defeats against Hungary.

Tuesday’s embarrassing 4-0 loss at home saw the Molineux crowd boo at full-time as they let their frustrations be known after witnessing England’s worst loss on English soil since 1928.

England manager Gareth Southgate now has just two games left, the conclusion of the Nations League, in September before the Qatar World Cup begins.

Here, Sportsmail assesses the top 40 for what looks set to be just 23 places following on from our last assessment prior to this month’s round of fixtures.

It was a frustrating run of games for England who failed to win in their four matches 

Gareth Southgate has a lot to ponder especially after their 4-0 thumping by Hungary

Gareth Southgate has a lot to ponder especially after their 4-0 thumping by Hungary

1. Harry Kane (non-mover)

England’s captain and main goalscoring threat. There is no doubting that Harry Kane is still at the top of this list.

He only scored once in four matches, as England’s attack stuttered, but he still showed his temperament with a brilliantly-taken late penalty in Germany – and against the formidable Manuel Neuer – to earn his side a draw in Munich.

Harry Kane is a certainty to make the plane as England's biggest attacking threat by a margin

Harry Kane is a certainty to make the plane as England’s biggest attacking threat by a margin

2. Jordan Pickford (non-mover)

Southgate spoke after Tuesday’s thrashing by Hungary that he now knows he has to be at ‘full strength’ after rotating his squad to give less experienced players a chance.

Pickford didn’t play at the Molineux mauling as Aaron Ramsdale was in goal and the latter’s display would have only confirmed to Southgate who is his No 1.

The Everton stopper should’ve done better for Germany’s goal via Jonas Hofmann but he has plenty of credit in Southgate’s bank.

Jordan Pickford should've done better against Germany but is still likely to be number one

Jordan Pickford should’ve done better against Germany but is still likely to be number one

3. Declan Rice (non-mover)

Another non-mover (there is a pattern developing here) is Declan Rice. Rested against Hungary his missed presence was felt as the visitors carved upon Southgate’s men on the counter-attack.

Like his team-mates, fatigue has clearly crept in after a long-season but he should be back to his best come Qatar – which is all that matters for his country.

SPORTSMAIL’S PREVIOUS TOP 40 

1. Harry Kane

2. Jordan Pickford

3. Declan Rice

4. Raheem Sterling

5. Phil Foden

6. Harry Maguire

7. Mason Mount

8. Kyle Walker

9. John Stones

10. Luke Shaw

11. Bukayo Saka

12. Reece James

13. Aaron Ramsdale

14. Jack Grealish

15. Jordan Henderson

16. Ben Chilwell

17. Conor Coady

18. Tammy Abraham

19. Jude Bellingham

20. Kalvin Phillips

21. Kieran Trippier

22. Fikayo Tomori

23. Nick Pope

24. Trent Alexander-Arnold

25. James Ward-Prowse

26. Ben White

27. Conor Gallagher

28. James Justin

29. Jarrod Bowen

30. Emile Smith Rowe

30. Emile Smith Rowe

31. Jadon Sancho

32. Marc Guehi

33. Jacob Ramsey

34. Marcus Rashford

35. Sam Johnstone

36. Tyrick Mitchell

37. Tyrone Mings

38. Eric Dier

39. Ollie Watkins

40. Harvey Elliott

 

4. Raheem Sterling (non-mover)

After Kane, Sterling is the other forward pretty much guaranteed a starting spot in Southgate’s starting XI.

Failed to score or assist in the four matches but it was telling that with England trailing 1-0 at half-time on Tuesday it was he who came on straight away after the break.

Like Pickford, the Manchester City star has so much credit in the bank for Southgate.

Raheem Sterling failed to score or assist during the four games but has a lot of credit left

Raheem Sterling failed to score or assist during the four games but has a lot of credit left

5. Phil Foden (non-mover)

Covid-19 ruined this international block with Foden as he was forced to miss the first three Nations League clashes as a result of it. He came on as a 68th-minute substitute against Hungary but his cameo failed to ignite a comeback.

His creativity was severely missed this month and that absence arguably strengthened his place in this England XI.

6. Mason Mount (up one)

Another of Southgate’s most trusted players, the Chelsea midfielder wasn’t at his best too understandably after an arduous season.

Should have scored against Italy but crashed a shot against the crossbar instead. Southgate will look to the bigger picture though.

7. Jordan Henderson (up eight)

Jordan Henderson wasn’t involved in this squad at all after an intense domestic season with Liverpool and his was presence was another that was missed in the England camp.

With England’s midfield combinations failing to shine across all four games, don’t be surprised to see Henderson line-up alongside Rice come the remainder of the Nations League and into the World Cup.

England's lacklustre midfield displays will have boosted the chances of Jordan Henderson

England’s lacklustre midfield displays will have boosted the chances of Jordan Henderson

8. Kyle Walker (non-mover)

Right back is the most hotly-contested for Southgate and Walker still probably has the edge here. Vying for the No 2 shirt with Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier it was Kyle Walker who played the most.

Walker started at right back on Tuesday and in the 1-1 draw at Germany. He also played at right-centre back in their opening 1-0 loss at Hungary – highlighting his importance to the Three Lions boss.

9. Harry Maguire (down two)

Centre back has to be a major cause of concern for Southgate. Despite being alarmingly out of form, Harry Maguire still remains his premier defender in this position.

Southgate stuck to his guns by showing faith in the much-maligned Manchester United captain by starting him in the first three fixtures, before bringing him on as a substitute on Tuesday.

He will be desperate for his defensive leader to return to form.

10. John Stones (down one)

All successful winnings sides are built on the foundation of a solid defence and just like with Maguire, Southgate needs John Stones to be at his very best.

He certainly didn’t have that on Tuesday night in a terrible display that ended with – albeit harshly – sent off.

Southgate needs John Stones back at his best after his dismal performance against Hungary

Southgate needs John Stones back at his best after his dismal performance against Hungary

11. Luke Shaw (down one)

Not selected for this squad, England were crying out for a natural left back throughout their four matches – something would have noted with Luke Shaw’s absence.

After a fine Euros, Shaw endured a poor club season at United but Southgate will hope he rediscovers his form.

So many attacks were stifled by the naturally right-footed Trippier and James having to continuously check-back inside when deployed at left back.

12. Reece James (non-mover)

James is pushing Walker for that right-back berth and it’d be hard to argue against him being the No 1 choice too. Walker’s experience may sway in his favour but the Chelsea full back is pushing him close.

Against Italy on Saturday he was solid and provided an attacking threat with his delivery. Played out of position on Tuesday at left back, the 22-year-old didn’t look out of place. In another string to his bow, he even looked more threatening as second-half right wing back.

Reece James is pushing Kyle Walker and also looked solid as a left back against Hungary

Reece James is pushing Kyle Walker and also looked solid as a left back against Hungary

13. Bukayo Saka (down two)

Arsenal’s ‘Starboy’ looked a bit faded and jaded (see above and below for the majority of the England squad) after a slog of a season.

One dangerous cross aside, was not involved enough against Hungary and little came off when ball did come his way – a summary of his involvement throughout this month’s fixtures.

14. Jack Grealish (non-mover)

It seems hard for the mercurial talent to be a starter for Southgate in his best XI – with a lot of his best work coming as a substitute.

That was exemplified this month with a fine cameo against Germany followed up by a hot-and-cold performance against Italy when given a chance to start. Seemingly has Sterling and Foden ahead of him on the flanks (as well as Saka one could argue) and Mount in the No 10 role.

15. Ben Chilwell (up one)

Injury curtailed the Chelsea defender’s season in November, although he did make a cameo return on the final day of the season against Watford having ruptured his cruciate ligaments.

The only uncertainty right now is how badly his injury has affected him, something we won’t know until the first few months of the Premier League season.

Southgate hope it hasn’t at all as he needs that natural left-back option. Just like with Shaw.

England will hope Ben Chilwell gets back to his best quickly after missing most of the season

England will hope Ben Chilwell gets back to his best quickly after missing most of the season

16. Jude Bellingham (up three)

A cornerstone of England’s midfield for years to come, Jude Bellingham plays beyond his years. On Tuesday, the 18-year-old showed his ability, energy and maturity.

Expect him to feature heavily for England next season – either as a starter or as a substitute.

17. Fikayo Tomori (up five)

If anything happens to Maguire or Stones then Fikayo Tomori will likely be the next man Southgate turns to at centre back.

He has thrived in Italy since leaving Chelsea and starred in a water-tight AC Milan defence that won the Serie A title for the first time in 11 years last term.

His defensive nous was on show against Italy when he made an excellent block just before half-time to keep England on level terms.

If anything happens to Maguire or Stones, Southgate could look to Fikayo Tomori

If anything happens to Maguire or Stones, Southgate could look to Fikayo Tomori

18. Jarrod Bowen (up eleven)

Started two and came off the bench in the other two Nations League fixtures. After a fine campaign at West Ham, the winger wasn’t able to replicate his form there in an England shirt.

Was most effective as a late substitute against Germany, but provides another inverted right-wing option for Southgate ahead of Qatar.

Jarrod Bowen was most effective for England coming on as a substitute against Germany

Jarrod Bowen was most effective for England coming on as a substitute against Germany

19. Tammy Abraham (down one)

After a brilliant debut season at Roma, like Bowen, Abraham couldn’t translate those displays into a Three Lions jersey.

Excused though by a lack of service in only outing against Italy as England couldn’t click in the final third.

20. Aaron Ramsdale (down seven)

An interesting international break for the Arsenal goalkeeper. Kept a clean sheet against Italy on Saturday which was then followed up just days later by conceding four to Hungary.

However, he is clearly Southgate’s second-choice goalkeeper to Jordan Pickford ahead of Nick Pope and Sam Johnstone.

Aaron Ramsdale conceded four goals to Hungary which would have hurt his chances

Aaron Ramsdale conceded four goals to Hungary which would have hurt his chances

21. Kalvin Phillips (down one)

A frustrating few games for Phillips which is best summarised by the fact he suffered a dead leg within minutes of starting against Germany.

His loose touch sparked Hungary’s second goal on Tuesday but has credit in the bank following England’s run to the Euros final.

Needs a good run of games next season after an injury-plagued last campaign.

22. Kieran Trippier (down one)

Mr Versatile, Trippier played against Germany and Italy as a left back but could find his place in the squad at risk if Shaw and Chilwell return to fitness and form.

23. Conor Coady (down six)

The Wolves captain only featured once and that was in the 1-0 loss against Hungary. It seems Southgate will only consider the 29-year-old in his starting XI if he deploys a back three.

24. Nick Pope (down one)

Was in the running to be second-choice behind Pickford, he is now third in Southgate’s pecking order after not featuring at all in the four fixtures this month.

25. Trent Alexander-Arnold (down one)

His quality is undeniable – especially in a Liverpool shirt. However, it still hasn’t clicked into gear in England white.

Only played against Hungary in the 1-0 defeat after a long season at the Reds.

England still haven't seen the best of Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold

England still haven’t seen the best of Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold

26. James Ward-Prowse (down one)

A victim of Southgate having so many top class attacking midfielders to pick from, but Ward-Prowse can be encouraged that he is still on the England manager’s radar.

Southgate has always been a fan of the 27-year-old since their time in the Under 21 set-up and his World Cup hopes are far from dashed.

Only featured once this month but quietly went about his business in central midfield. Kept things ticking over in England’s engine room.   

27. Ben White (down one)

A surprise inclusion for the injured Alexander-Arnold last summer at Euro 2020. A superb season for Arsenal means the centre back’s international prospects have only grown since.

Was named in the squad for this month but has pulled out with injury, and he will miss crucial international chances to prove his worth. 

Another solid start to the season for Gunners though could convince Southgate that his ball-playing ability at the back could be too much to ignore. 

28. Conor Gallagher (down one)

Gallagher has enjoyed a rapid rise up the metaphorical England rankings in the last year, having only picked up his first cap last autumn and collected two more since.

However, his lack of international experience was on show during Tuesday’s defeat. 

Conor Gallagher's lack of international experience was on full show during Tuesday's defeat

Conor Gallagher’s lack of international experience was on full show during Tuesday’s defeat

29. James Justin (down one)

The bolt from the blue but James Justin could have hit his stride at just the right time after returning from injury to star for Leicester in 2022.

Made his debut against Hungary at left back but that was cut short by a calf injury during the first half of their 1-0 defeat.

30. Emile Smith Rowe (non-mover)

Enjoyed an excellent season at the Emirates though was demoted to the England Under-21 squad for this month’s international fixtures.

Smith Rowe, who named on the shortlist for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, is a victim of England having too many options in attacking areas.

Though he wasn’t called up to the senior squad this month, it would be no surprise to see him make the squad with a bright start to next season. 

31. Jadon Sancho (non-mover)

Worrying times are ahead for Jadon Sancho, who hasn’t been called up this year to Southgate’s squad following a troubled debut season at Manchester United.

Featuring in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo was never going to aid his cause but having fallen down the pecking order during Euro 2020 his fortunes have barely improved. 

Left out of the squad again, he needs a fast start to the new Premier League season.

Jadon Sancho is struggling to force his way back into Southgate's attacking plans

Jadon Sancho is struggling to force his way back into Southgate’s attacking plans

32. Marc Guehi (non-mover)

There are perhaps one too many centre-backs in the way for Guehi to displace in a bid to reach the World Cup but having been named in the latest squad, he is still very much involved in Southgate’s plans.

How much football he will see in June to try and stake a World Cup spot remains to be seen. The Crystal Palace star impressed against Switzerland on his debut but will not remember his second start against Hungary fondly in which he looked assured on the ball, but not so much defensively. 

33. Jacob Ramsey (non-mover)

The highest player on this list without an international call-up but Southgate can’t ignore him for too much longer if he carries on his impressive development at Aston Villa.

At Villa Park, the 21-year-old has enjoyed a productive campaign in a side looking to move on from the Jack Grealish era and he has combined effectively with Philippe Coutinho – that will only enhance his prospects heading into the future.

34. Marcus Rashford (non-mover)

The fact that his omission from Southgate’s team is not a surprise only highlights just how far the Manchester United star has fallen in the last year.

Not too long ago he was considered a safe bet to start for England. Yet it’s been a terrible year for the forward who has scored just two goals in all competitions since October. 

A summer off may be what he needs to engage a reset. Working in his favour is a trust factor with Southgate – if he finds Premier League form again, he won’t be as reliant on England games to prove his worth as much as other players.

Marcus Rashford's poor campaign means he remains frozen out of the England squad

Marcus Rashford’s poor campaign means he remains frozen out of the England squad

35. Sam Johnstone (non-mover)

At the time of writing Johnstone is a free agent following his release from a West Bromwich Albion side who slumped towards a mid-table Championship finish last term.

That is hardly a glowing reference for a World Cup spot, but the former Manchester United keeper is highly rated and has been linked with a move to Crystal Palace. A new club in the top flight and a strong start to the season would put him right back into contention for the third keeper’s spot. 

36. Tyrick Mitchell (non-mover) 

Southgate is looking high and wide for a left back he can call upon and back in March that included Tyrick Mitchell following his encouraging campaign at Crystal Palace.

He was given his debut against Switzerland playing for 30 minutes as a replacement for Shaw before starting against Ivory Coast. 

His omission from the Nations League squad indicates the World Cup could come too soon for the 22-year-old but he didn’t look too out of place in those Wembley appearances.

37. Tyrone Mings (non-mover)

Granted, Mings has not had the finest of seasons at Aston Villa but it hasn’t been terrible. The problem for the centre-back is that many other defenders have kicked on this term.

As a result he has become rather lost in the shuffle having looked assured during the first two games of Euro 2020 where he helped the Three Lions kept two clean sheets. 

Having earned 17 caps and proven his worth, improved Premier League form next term may see him force his way back in contention. 

Tyrone Mings has become lost in the shuffle among Southgate's centre-back options

Tyrone Mings has become lost in the shuffle among Southgate’s centre-back options

38. Eric Dier (non-mover)

Eric Dier was part of the England side that marched towards the World Cup semi-finals in 2018, yet four years on he looks like a forgotten man at international level.

Despite a strong end to the season with Tottenham Hotspur, he still hasn’t been able to earn an international recall this summer and while his England career isn’t over at 28, it appears he will have to do a lot to convince Southgate otherwise now.

39. Ollie Watkins (non-mover)

The biggest drop among the top 40 indicates that Watkins is rapidly falling out of favour with Southgate and yet he hasn’t had a terrible season with Aston Villa.

However, the trouble is it hasn’t been fantastic either, and his modest return of 11 Premier League goals against largely inferior opposition won’t be enough to earn a recall.

40. James Maddison (new entry)

Just sneaking onto the list, in place of Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott, is a man with a single England cap to his name, coming back in 2019.

Maddison fell out of favour with Gareth Southgate, with some believing it was due to an incident in which he pulled out of the squad and was later seen visiting a casino, but regardless of the reason why, it’s clear he’s not been high on the agenda.

That said, his form for Leicester has been brilliant and if he starts the new season as well as he ended the last, he will have to be in the manager’s thinking.

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