So that’s it. England’s final two competitive international fixtures before the Qatar World Cup are done and dusted.
England’s entertaining 3-3 draw against Germany at Wembley on Monday, three days after their disappointing 1-0 defeat against Italy in Milan in the Nations League, provided the final chance for players to impress manager Gareth Southgate.
The Three Lions boss will name his 26-man squad for the winter tournament on November 13, a little more than six weeks away.
Of course, players can still play their way into – or out of – contention via their showings at club level, in the Premier League or otherwise, but given how much Southgate values performances in international games, late ‘bolters’ may be limited.
So who is currently on the plane, at the departure gate, and set to be watching at home? Luke Shaw is on the rise, Harry Maguire may well still make the squad, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fikayo Tomori will be sweating over their places.
Below, Sportsmail looks at the top 40 potential risers and fallers – assuming everyone is fit – in the Three Lions squad in our definitive World Cup squad ladder.
England’s last competitive game before the World Cup was a 1-1 draw vs Germany on Monday
It is around six weeks until Gareth Southgate names a 26-man squad for the Qatar tournament
Below, Sportsmail looks at the top 40 potential risers and fallers – assuming everyone is fit – in the Three Lions squad in our definitive World Cup squad ladder, with plenty up for grabs
1. Harry Kane (non-mover)
Captain, leader, dead cert for the plane. Even if half-fit, Harry Kane will go. He’s the target man, figurehead, future top goalscorer in the country’s history, deadeye penalty taker, playmaker, and a lot else besides.
He’s a good bet for the tournament’s Golden Boot award even if England only make the quarter-finals. Just pray he doesn’t get injured!
2. Jude Bellingham (up five)
Every time you think it’s impossible to get more excited about Jude Bellingham, the teenager surprises you again.
We knew the Borussia Dortmund midfielder belongs at international level. Now we know he belongs in the starting team.
An assured, dynamic performance against Germany showed he might have surpassed Declan Rice as England’s most important and most nailed-on midfielder.
An assured, dynamic performance against Germany shows Jude Bellingham (pictured) might have surpassed Declan Rice as England’s most important and most nailed-on midfielder
3. Raheem Sterling (non-mover)
The usual trolls on Twitter were slinging mud at Sterling for missing a couple of chances against the Germans.
But the Chelsea star is a world-class forward, a tournament beast and those chances, while failing to answer questions about his lack of a clinical edge, show his movement, pace and timing to get himself in the right positions.
Almost certain to start alongside Kane in a front three. The question is, who will join those two?
4. Jordan Pickford (up four)
One whose reputation was enhanced in his absence. Southgate backed Pickford through a rough spell of form at Everton that had many fans baying for him to be dropped, citing ‘dinosaur arms’ as a legitimate footballing criticism.
He was instrumental in the Toffees staying up last season, seems to have a calmer demeanour and if the manager stood by him in tough times, he’ll stand by him in better times too.
The clear and deserved No 1. And who wouldn’t love to see another fist-pumping penalty save celebration?
5. John Stones (non-mover)
The concern over Stones limping off eight minutes before half-time on Monday shows his importance to the team.
In truth, Stones would likely start in the World Cup opener against Iran even if he wasn’t playing regularly for Manchester City. But he is – for now – and is probably the side’s best-performing and most gifted centre-back.
He has a mistake in him. But among England’s defenders, who doesn’t?
SPORTSMAIL’S PREVIOUS TOP 40
1. Harry Kane
2. Declan Rice
3. Raheem Sterling
4. Phil Foden
5. John Stones
6. Kyle Walker
7. Jude Bellingham
8. Jordan Pickford
9. Mason Mount
10. Ben Chilwell
11. Harry Maguire
12. Reece James
13. Bukayo Saka
14. Aaron Ramsdale
15. Jack Grealish
16. Jordan Henderson
17. Tammy Abraham
18. Luke Shaw
19. Eric Dier
20. Kieran Trippier
21. Kalvin Phillips
22. Conor Coady
23. Fikayo Tomori
24. Nick Pope
25. Trent Alexander-Arnold
26. Jarrod Bowen
27. Ivan Toney
28. James Ward-Prowse
29. Marc Guehi
30. Dean Henderson
31. Marcus Rashford
32. Jadon Sancho
33. Ben White
34. Conor Gallagher
35. James Justin
36. Tyrick Mitchell
37. Tyrone Mings
38. Harvey Elliott
39. Callum Wilson
40. Anthony Gordon
6. Kyle Walker (non-mover)
Walker is very likely to start at right centre-back if England play a back three/five, and is in real contention alongside Reece James to start at right back if Southgate goes with a back four.
Experienced, reliable and physically excellent, his recovery runs in defence are a key part of the mean defence shown at Euro 2020.
7. Bukayo Saka (up six)
A difficult night in an unfamiliar left wing-back role against Italy did not damage his chances of starting against Iran in the eyes of most fair-minded fans.
Although he can cover there if really needed, in his natural position against Germany he shone in a sparkling half-hour cameo, impressing with his trickery, direct running and vision.
We can’t see him starting the competition opener, but he’ll surely get plenty of game time at the tournament.
8. Declan Rice (down six)
Not his best day against Germany. Or Italy, for that matter. And it’s been a tough season for his club side West Ham, who have gone from being Europa League semi-finalists last season to the relegation zone (so far) this season.
But the 23-year-old is still, on his day, one of the best in the world in his position and the ‘Basmati Busquets’ is fairly sure to start in midfield alongside Bellingham.
Declan Rice did not have his best day in an England shirt but is still very likely to make the 26
9. Mason Mount (non-mover)
Another who looked really good when coming on against Hansi Flick’s side. His well-taken first-time finish demonstrated his attacking prowess, as well as his consistency, pressing and tactical awareness, for which Southgate values him highly.
On the cusp of starting against Iran.
10. Phil Foden (down six)
Foden is a rare, special talent. He doesn’t quite seem to have translated his trademark moments of brilliance for Manchester City to the international stage – not yet, at least.
This could be the tournament it happens. This could be the breakthrough. He has the ability to make it ‘The Foden Tournament’: let’s hope he can.
11. Luke Shaw (up seven)
Potentially England’s weakest position is left back/left wing-back. Ben Chilwell spent much of last season injured and may struggle to get back in the Chelsea team after the signings of Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly.
Luke Shaw, meanwhile, has lost his starting place to Tyrell Malacia as Manchester United’s left-back. However, his performance against Germany shows you don’t necessarily need to be No 1 at club level to do well on the international stage.
Barring a dramatic resurgence from Chilwell, the starting spot is now Shaw’s.
Luke Shaw belied his Manchester United omissions with a fine attacking showing at Wembley
12. Harry Maguire (down one)
Harry Maguire receives awful levels of often personal abuse, is an extremely talented footballer – the most expensive defender of all time, for no little reason – and seems to be a resilient person who is well-liked in the England squad.
He is also seasoned at international level, was one of the country’s best players at both of the last two major tournaments and was deservedly named in the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament, ahead of Giorgio Chiellini, John Stones and many others.
Mistakes, like his two against Germany which led to two goals, can and do happen to any player, and many gleefully jumped on his errors as definitive proof he’s ‘just not good at football’ in a way they wouldn’t have had it been, say, Stones or Walker.
With all that said, he is obviously hugely short on confidence – it’s not just a lack of game time at club level, Shaw played well against Germany – and it is clearly affecting his performances, which (understandably) exude serious self-doubt.
United have dropped him, and their defence looks better for it.
Continuing to play him and play him despite his poor form, blindingly sticking by him no matter what, is actually unfair on Maguire and exposes him to impossible levels of pressure and scrutiny that would die down if he were allowed to recapture his form and confidence out of the spotlight.
He will go to the World Cup, and probably deserves to given his history and pedigree with England. But you wonder how much worse he has to play for Southgate to consider dropping him from the starting XI.
Harry Maguire should be taken out of the firing line, but Southgate still has faith in him
13. Reece James (down one)
You know what you’re going to get from James.
He has the defensive discipline and awareness Southgate obviously believes Trent Alexander-Arnold is missing, as well as the creativity, drive and crossing ability. He must go.
14. Aaron Ramsdale (non-mover)
Another to benefit despite not playing, Ramsdale was fairly sure of getting on the plane because of his good performances for Premier League-leading Arsenal.
But Nick Pope’s blunder against Germany probably serves to reinforce Ramsdale’s position as backup to Pickford. He’s better with the ball at his feet than the Newcastle stopper too.
15. Ben Chilwell (down five)
Chilwell, in a way, is lucky about the lack of real depth at left-back.
Shaw – not playing for United – has cemented his place ahead of the 25-year-old in the pecking order, and if anyone was tearing it up at club level – Tyrick Mitchell? James Justin? – Chilwell might find himself out of the squad.
Yet even if his game time is sporadic between now and the World Cup, he’s fairly certain of being backup to Shaw. Hopefully when fully fit he can force himself into the Chelsea team under new boss Graham Potter.
16. Jack Grealish (down one)
Grealish is now so established in an England shirt it feels strange to think about how long he was left out of the squad, and then left out of the team.
Probably not quite consistent enough at the top level to start, but it’s not bad having a £100million player to bring off the bench and make an impact, right?
17. Jordan Henderson (down one)
The joint-third most-capped player in the squad, Henderson probably would have got more game time this week had he not just returned from injury.
A key leader on and off the pitch for England, he will make the plane, and might even start in Southgate’s midfield duo.
18. Tammy Abraham (down one)
Kane is No 1, we know that. And while there are a host of others trying to become the established first reserve, Ivan Toney – perhaps Abraham’s closest challenger – did not make his debut in this international break.
There’s scope for Callum Wilson, Ollie Watkins, Patrick Bamford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or someone of that ilk to absolutely smash it before the World Cup and sneak onto the plane.
But it’s unlikely. And they may be more in competition with Toney in any case.
19. Kieran Trippier (up one)
Trippier is probably only England’s third-best right-back and third-best left-back.
Trippier demonstrated his ability from set pieces with a superb free-kick against Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals
He’s also versatile, experienced (37 caps), an excellent set-piece taker, a strong character and more dependable than Trent Alexander-Arnold.
If Southgate has a rethink on Trent, Trippier might be at risk. But he’s a good player to have at a tournament. Remember that Croatia free-kick?
20. Eric Dier (down one)
It’s difficult to change Southgate’s mind. Seemingly, when you’re out, you’re out, and when you’re in, you’re in. Dier was out for a long time.
Now he’s in, it’s unlikely he’ll be dropped despite shaky performances against Italy and Germany.
Eric Dier (left) looked shaky at times but his place as a back-up centre half looks fairly secure
21. Kalvin Phillips (non-mover)
Phillips is another player some are suggesting should not be in the squad because of his lack of game time at club level.
True, he has only played one minute of Premier League football at Manchester City. But he’s been injured – it is not as if he’s been fully fit and totally ignored by Pep Guardiola.
When he’s ready, he’ll surely get time on the pitch, if not start every game. Not playing regularly might well cost him his place in the team. It shouldn’t cost his place in the squad.
22. Conor Coady (non-mover)
Despite not stepping onto the field at all over the international break, Coady was named in both matchday squads as a substitute and seems likely to make it into the final squad of 26.
There are concerns about his ability at the very top level. Although he is performing well for Everton, you could probably name seven or eight better English centre-backs than the 29-year-old.
He’s undoubtedly a good character, a good professional and a good example around the camp. Is that enough to go to a World Cup? Gareth thinks so; we’re not so sure.
23. Marc Guehi (up six)
It may seem odd for Guehi’s chances to rise despite not playing at all. Yet in the battle for the potential sixth centre-back (after Stones, Walker, Maguire, Dier and potentially Coady), Southgate obviously is uncertain of Fikayo Tomori.
Crystal Palace defender Guehi is currently ahead of Ben White in the pecking order, and with Tomori dropped from the matchday squad against Germany and replaced by Guehi, that decision could indicate Southgate’s preference.
The manager – another former Eagles centre-half – rates the 22-year-old’s maturity, pace and ball playing abilities. He may well sneak on the plane.
Ivan Toney’s inclusion in the squad bodes well for his prospects of making the tournament
24. Ivan Toney (up three)
Featuring in the international squad without playing a minute was not, as some suggested, an entirely futile exercise for Ivan Toney.
Being around the squad, meeting team-mates, training at a higher standard, understanding the team culture and what it means to wear the shirt while giving Southgate and England coaches a better look at him are all useful.
However, he will of course be disappointed not to play at all when Harry Kane – who everyone knows is a dead cert – played 180 minutes across the international break.
Then again, Kane’s deputy Tammy Abraham didn’t play either. Toney is the ‘best of the rest’ up front, and if he continues his fine Brentford form could be included.
25. Nick Pope (down one)
Nick Pope will be as disappointed as anybody with his mistake to gift Germany a late goal on Monday. Moreover, he looked uncertain and tentative with the ball at his feet.
His error probably puts Ramsdale above him as Pickford’s No 2. But still expect him to make the squad.
Nick Pope’s error might see him become third choice but he is still likely to make the squad
26. Jarrod Bowen (non-mover)
Bowen’s position is arguably the most vulnerable. Like Tomori, he made it into the matchday squad against Italy and was dropped from it against Germany. Like Tomori, he has a lot of competition in his position.
Unlike Tomori, he’s in poor form at club level too, failing to register a goal or assist this season, with the Hammers struggling in the relegation zone. Man United pair Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho will be hot on his heels.
27. Fikayo Tomori (down four)
Tomori is among the best young centre-halves in Europe, an impressive player and person whose maturity and composure makes him potentially England’s second or third most talented centre-back, after Stones and maybe Walker.
His transfer to AC Milan transformed the Rossoneri’s defence and he was a key cog in their Serie A title last season, while – for example – Maguire’s United finished sixth in the Premier League, Coady’s Wolves came 10th, Guehi’s Palace finished 12th and Tyrone Mings’ Aston Villa languished in 15th.
Yes, a player can play well in a poorly performing team. But for whatever reason, Southgate just doesn’t fancy Tomori. It’s baffling. The manager says ‘you can’t win a tournament with players who have just a handful of caps’.
Those words make his decision to hand Mings 17 caps and Coady 10 while Tomori has just three even more strange.
Both Mings and Coady are undoubtedly committed professionals – but are arguably inferior to Tomori. Would the 24-year-old make our squad? Yes. Will he make Southgate’s? We don’t think so.
The lack of game time for AC Milan’s talented defender Fikayo Tomori (above, right) is baffling
28. Dean Henderson (up two)
Henderson is performing well and, crucially, playing regularly for Nottingham Forest rather than rotting on the Red Devils’ bench.
Pope’s mistake against Germany makes his inclusion as third-choice slightly more likely. But Pope has enough credit in the bank.
29. James Ward-Prowse (down one)
Ward-Prowse made the Italy matchday squad and was another to be dropped for the Germany game.
He seems around fifth- or sixth-choice in central midfield, which is probably about right for someone who is considered more of a set-piece specialist. He’s not far away – but he’ll probably just miss out.
30. Ben White (up three)
Rightly or wrongly, given White’s performances for league leaders Arsenal, he’s around seventh or eighth in the pecking order at centre-back.
Tomori’s apparent snub – and Guehi and Coady’s lack of minutes – makes an inclusion slightly more likely, but would perhaps be a long shot.
31. Marcus Rashford (non-mover)
Rashford’s position hasn’t changed. He’s still outside the established four wingers/attacking midfielders in Sterling, Foden, Saka and Grealish. In a squad of 26, there could well be a fifth.
The United forward will want that to be him.
United pair Jadon Sancho (left) and Marcus Rashford (right) have a good chance of making it in
32. Jadon Sancho (non-mover)
A very similar situation to Rashford. Bowen’s place is vulnerable and Sancho knows continuing his improving form under Erik ten Hag could well see him make it onto the plane.
The talent is there, no doubt about it.
33. Trent Alexander-Arnold (down eight)
Poor Trent. While Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool supporters have a very one-eyed view on the situation – calling him the ‘best right back in the world’ is wide of the mark – he is still, clearly, an excellent attacking and playmaking talent.
For all that, he is defensively suspect. Mistakes as the Reds defence was taken apart by Napoli and Man United, among others, this season not only called into question his positioning and awareness, but his desire and work rate too, which is alarming.
He is also unsuited to England’s style of play, which is very different to Klopp’s front-foot, ultra-high pressing philosophy.
Liverpool supporters might argue he is so gifted that Southgate should build the team around him or change the system to allow him to flourish. There is some merit to that and it would be a genuine shame to see such a star not go to the World Cup.
Yet with Walker, James and Trippier ahead of him at the moment and after missing out on even the matchday squad against Germany, it looks a long way back.
Rightly or wrongly, the latest snub of Trent Alexander-Arnold means it looks a long way back
34. James Maddison (new entry)
England’s attack did finally spark into life against Germany, with goals from Shaw and Mount ending a run of 565 minutes without a goal from open play.
But there are still concerns about the lack of creativity in midfield, especially if Rice and Phillips or Henderson play in a pair.
Maddison, 25, certainly offers creativity, with three goals and an assist this season providing the Premier League’s bottom side Leicester with a rare bright spark.
No minutes for Ward-Prowse and Gallagher slightly advances his claims. Equally, Southgate’s comments on England not producing playmakers and previous disciplinary issues mean a November call-up looks unlikely.
35. Ryan Sessegnon (new entry)
With Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchell not as good going forwards despite being an excellent defender, Ryan Sessegnon of Tottenham could be in the frame to replace Ben Chilwell.
Much depends on how much game time he gets, with Ivan Perisic probably first-choice left wing-back for Spurs, but the 22-year-old impressed for England Under-21s side on Thursday and is well known to senior management.
36. Tyrick Mitchell (non-mover)
Mitchell is probably the next cab off the rank at left back/left wing-back. With Shaw, Chilwell and Sessegnon all currently second choice at their respective teams, the 23-year-old could be the only regularly playing left back by November.
He looked assured in his first two caps and has already shown signs of improving in confidence in attack, delivering an inch-perfect first-time cross for Jean Philippe-Mateta to score against Aston Villa.
Crystal Palace playmaker Eberechi Eze (above) could be a potential ‘bolter’ for the Three Lions
37. Tyrone Mings (non-mover)
Mings is, at least, a known quantity for England. A lion-hearted, imposing, left-footed centre back who has more experience than several other contenders for the back-up centre back slot.
He has also won back his place for Villa – though it is unlikely to see him make the plane.
38. Conor Gallagher (down four)
Gallagher had hoped to press his claims for a spot in the squad, perhaps ahead of Ward-Prowse, as backup to Rice, Bellingham, Henderson and Phillips.
Tyrone Mings has won his place back for Aston Villa but is unlikely to make Southgate’s squad
Not playing regularly for Chelsea will not help with that. Inclusion is not out of the question, however.
39. Callum Wilson (non-mover)
Wilson is a brilliant, instinctive finisher and had two league goals in three league games this season before once again succumbing to injury, leading Newcastle to spend £60m on Alexander Isak.
If – and it’s a big if – he stays fit and regains his place, perhaps moving Isak to the left wing, and continues scoring for fun, Toney and potentially Abraham could start looking over their shoulders nervously.
40. Anthony Gordon (non-mover)
Again, Gordon looks a fine prospect. Probably more work to do to displace the world-class stars competing for the attacking midfield and wide forward spots, though.
James Justin, Mings, Mitchell and Callum Wilson drop off the ladder.