Who should make Gareth Southgate’s 26-man England squad?

Gareth Southgate

In a matter of days, Gareth Southgate‘s long wait will be over.

On Thursday at lunchtime, England’s manager will announce the final 26 players who will travel to Qatar with him to compete in the World Cup, the pinnacle of men’s international football, and try to win for the first time in 56 years.

The recent news that Chelsea’s Reece James and Ben Chilwell, both of whom had been nursing ailments to their knees and hamstrings, respectively, will not be able to play in the tournament has dealt a devastating blow to Southgate.

It’s especially disappointing that England won’t have James, who at age 22 would have been a lock to start for England in its first group games against Iran, Wales, and the United States.

Perhaps Chilwell would have started for England in Qatar, but he faced competition for his starting spot from the likes of the newly revitalized Luke Shaw and the incredibly adaptable Kieran Trippier, who is set to return to his favourite flank after a stellar run of form at Newcastle.

Despite naming the Leicester star James Maddison in his sizable preliminary team, Southgate appears to have ignored the playmaker. While the 25-year-old has been red-hot for the Foxes as they have turned around their dismal season start, his coach doesn’t seem to appreciate his goals, assists, or overall creativity.

Still, whoever Southgate picks, England will have a plethora of creative alternatives, and there should be plenty of firepower up front if Harry Kane needs help scoring.

But rather than go on about the challenges facing Southgate, why don’t we let the editors of 90min select their 26-man squads?

After dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s, here is how the 9-person panel voted when asked to put together their England jigsaws.