It's hard to believe that the England national team have had a problem with creativity for years.
After all, when it comes to attacking midfielders, the Three Lions boast the kind of depth most
countries can only dream of.
Gareth Southgate has a wealth of options at his disposal and has started introducing those
creative midfielders to his squad. There are so many players battling it out, with only a select
few making it into the World Cup squad.
Let's take a look at who's out there.
8. Dele Alli
It feels like an eternity since we saw Dele Alli playing at his peak and he's disappointed after a few false dawns of a resurgence since.
He put in some top cameo performances when Everton's backs were against the walls in their relegation scrap last season, but not even they were enough for him to force his way into their starting XI and he was instead shipped off to Besiktas for a loan spell that has thus far yielded
At just 26, he has time on his side but has a lot to do if he’s to work his way back into Southgate's thinking.
7. Jesse Lingard
The creative hub for England four years ago, Jesse Lingard's career has stalled somewhat recently.
After hugely impressing on loan at West Ham and being controversially cut from Southgate's squad for Euro 2020, Lingard returned to sitting on the Man Utd bench before leaving on a free transfer this summer. A far-from-inspiring start to his Nottingham Forest career, though, hasn’t
forced a reintroduction to the Three Lions set-up.
6. Eberechi Eze
There was a quiet clamour around Ebere Eze’s name in the build up to Southgate announcing his 26-man list for the World Cup, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Despite the Crystal Palace midfielder’s transition to the Premier League being curtailed by injury since his switch from QPR in 2020, Eze has demonstrated his undoubted ability within an exciting Eagles side and has started the 2022/23 season in fine fettle. It shouldn't be too long before he’s wearing his nation’s colours.
5. Emile Smith Rowe
Despite only making 21 Premier League starts for Arsenal last season, Emile Smith Rowe grabbed 10 goals from open play and gained plenty of admirers - with Southgate notably being one of them.
The Gunners youngster broke into the senior Three Lions squad for the March internationals, but returned to the Under-21 set-up in June and has work to do to gain his place back.
4. Jack Grealish
Remember when Southgate came under intense scrutiny for not starting Grealish? Feels a world away now.
When he’s playing like Miguel Almiron, few people can stop him; when he’s not, he’s frustration personified.
The 26-year-old has consistently struggled to find his best form since arriving at Manchester City after leaving Aston Villa, while he still isn't assured of a place in England's XI.
However, he has time and again proved a useful option from the bench for the Three Lions and his inclusion in the World Cup squad was never doubtful.
3. James Maddison
It felt like a long time coming, but James Maddison is finally back in the England squad.
With a solitary cap to his name, the Leicester midfielder is the least experienced player in the Three Lions’ World Cup camp this winter but, with the most Premier League goal contributions since the beginning of the 2021/22 season coming into the tournament, you could say he’s their
2. Mason Mount
Mason Mount has often been misunderstood during his young career. A lot of fans don't see what the Chelsea man brings to the table even beyond his impressive goal and assist totals.
Surprisingly, his form at club hasn't ever really translated to the international game, but he's obviously a good player Southgate will continue to stick with for good reason.
1. Phil Foden
The margins between our top three are very thin and will likely change from week to week next season, but for now, Foden has the number one spot.
He featured far more prominently for Man City as they retained their Premier League title and scooped his second successive PFA Young Player of the Year award - a feat only matched by Robbie Fowler, Wayne Rooney and Dele.
Having started the 2022/23 campaign in even more sparkling form, he brings an unpredictability that few players possess and if he can start finding the net as often for England as he does for City, the scoring burden on Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling will crucially be reduced.