England World Cup squad: Sheffield pair included but one city star misses out

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Sheffield defensive duo Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire have both been included in England’s World Cup squad.

The former Sheffield United players were announced in Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for the competition in Qatar which kicks off later this month.

However, there is no place for another former Blade, Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The Everton striker has recently returned from injury but Southgate has gone for Callum Wilson instead, while James Maddison has also been included among the forwards.

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National reports have suggested that Calvert-Lewin is struggling with a shoulder injury picked up in October which had been recently aggravated.

Ex-Sheffield Unted keeper Aaron Ramsdale is one of three goalkeepers included. Also making up a South Yorkshire heavy defence is Barnsley-born John Stones.

Walker has been out injured since early October so there were questions over whether the 32-year-old would be included. Maguire meanwhile, has not been a regular starter for Manchester United this season. The Mosborough man has made eight appearances for the Red Devils in this campaign so far with half of those coming in the Europa League.

Asked if his squad contained everything necessary to win a World Cup, Southgate told a press conference: “We’ve wanted to make sure the balance of the squad is right.

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“I think the squad is more important than ever. With five substitutes you can have almost half the team changed during the game so you want different options for different moments of matches and stages at the tournament as well.

Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker have both been included in Gareth Southgate's England World Cup squadHarry Maguire and Kyle Walker have both been included in Gareth Southgate's England World Cup squad
Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker have both been included in Gareth Southgate's England World Cup squad

“We’ve had to cover a couple of players that aren’t yet fully fit, so having 26 available meant we were probably able to take a couple of risks that you might not have been able to with 23, but we think the balance is there and we’ve got cover in the positions we need. We’re lighter on depth in some positions than others but we think we’ve got everything covered.”

Walker is not expected to be fit for the start of the competition but Southgate has opted to take the Manchester City full back. He hasn’t however chosen Chelsea’s Reece James whose recovery timescale is longer.

“[Walker] is not back in full training yet, but he’s going to be available before the end of the group stage,” Southgate added. “We had to make a really difficult call on Reece, who we think is a fantastic player, but he is going to be ready until, if everything went perfectly, the latter stages of the tournament.

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"There were too many unknowns for us on that road to recovery and I don’t think we can take a player who is not available for the group. That would be deemed arrogant in some circles. But also, we would have been dropping, if everything went well and he was ready and we were picking him, then you would be droppin him into a quarter-final with eight weeks out. That would be really demanding. A tough call. Kyle is a long way ahead of that and is progressing really well.”