Date: 6th April 2022 at 1:00pm
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The World Cup is now just 229 days away, and with the draw having been made, fans all over the world are already looking ahead to what promises to be a memorable tournament.

29 of the 32 teams involved in the showpiece have already bee decided, with play-offs coming up in March to confirm the remaining three.

England were handed what many perceived to be a favourable draw, with the USA, Iran and one of Wales, Scotland or Ukraine lying in wait for Gareth Southgate’s side.

The Three Lions go into the tournament as one of the bookies’ favourites to lift the iconic trophy, with France, Brazil and Germany also among the strongest contenders.

2018 Golden Boot winner Kane will be hoping for another successful World Cup

The tournament, which has been moved to the winter due to the soaring summer temperatures in Qatar, will prompt a mid-season break from many of Europe’s top leagues, including England’s top tier.

With that in mind, players will be well aware that they have just a matter of months left to impress their respective national coaches.

Competition for places in Southgate’s squad will be extremely competitive, with only a handful of names guaranteed a place on the plane.

Below, we list five outsiders who could be in contention to secure a place in the England squad.

Conor Gallagher

Perhaps less of an outsider and more of a likely candidate, Conor Gallagher has set the Premier League alight with Crystal Palace this season. The midfielder, who is currently on loan from Chelsea, has scored eight goals and provided three assists in the league so far this term, and most recently impressed as the Eagles demolished Arsenal in a 3-0 victory on Monday. The 22-year-old was given a senior England debut in November last year, and more recently set up Luke Shaw for his opener against Switzerland at Wembley. While competition for places in England’s midfield will be strong, Gallagher could add a unique balance of defence and attack, and Southgate may choose to give the youngster a chance.

Tyrick Mitchell

Another young Palace star who has impressed enough to earn an England debut of late, Tyrick Mitchell could take advantage of Ben Chilwell’s recent injury and force his way into Southgate’s squad. The Chelsea left-back has been out since November with a ruptured cruciate ligament, and while he should return before the World Cup starts in November this year, he is unlikely to have played much football and may not be risked by Southgate.

Mitchell will be hoping to build on his recent England debut

Mitchell, who made his debut against Switzerland and then started as England kept a clean sheet against the Ivory Coast, has played all but eight minutes of Palace’s Premier League campaign so far this season, and will consider himself the sole deputy to Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw at present.

Jarrod Bowen

Many people felt that Jarrod Bowen was unlucky to miss out on the latest England squad. The West Ham man has been arguably the most in-form Englishman in the division in recent months, and looked certain to be given his first senior call up. A foot injury meant the forward missed out on Southgate’s latest group, but he made an instant impact when returning to the Hammers side on Sunday, scoring what turned out to be the winner against struggling Everton. His tallies of 13 goals and 11 assists in all competitions this season will certainly have put him in the England manager’s thoughts, and few would bet against him continuing that form throughout the remainder of the season.

Fikayo Tomori

AC Milan fans, and Chelsea supporters alike, have been left increasingly bewildered by Fikayo Tomori’s repeated omission from the England squad. The defender, who represented Canada at youth level, has only made two appearances for the Three Lions, and has been capped just once since the start of 2020. His performances at club level do little to explain this, though.

Tomori has impressed in Serie A with AC Milan

The centre-back impressed under Frank Lampard during his first season in charge of the Blues, and he has since impressed in Italy with Milan. With Gareth Southgate’s insistence on fielding a back three, there may be room for the Cobham graduate to squeeze his way in. John Stones and Harry Maguire looked to be nailed on as starters in Qatar, but the likes of Tomori, Tyrone Mings and Conor Coady will be left to fight it out for the third spot.

James Maddison

Another player whose tally of international caps may surprise many, Leicester City midfielder James Maddison has represented England just once, and hadn’t pulled on the Three Lions shirt in the past two-and-a-half years. There are arguably a number of reasons for this. The impressive performances of players who occupy similar roles, namely Mason Mount and Phil Foden, will undoubtedly have hampered Maddison’s chances. His club form, however, does suggest that he is deserved of a shot on the international stage. The 25-year-old has scored seven goals and provided four assists in his last 15 league matches, hinting that he may be finding form at just the right time.

With such an embarrassment of talent at his disposal, the expectations on Gareth Southgate to succeed at the World Cup this winter will be significant. Having gone close at each of the past two major tournaments, and with a wealth of players to choose from, could this be the year that England finally end all those years of hurt?

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