Maddison, Gallagher and Wilson named in England's World Cup squad
James Maddison has been called up to the England squad for the World Cup by Gareth Southgate.
Chelsea's Conor Gallagher is the other surprise inclusion in the 26-man group, with in-form Newcastle striker Callum Wilson and Arsenal centre-back Ben White also earning spots.
Wilson’s inclusion means Tammy Abraham and Ivan Toney miss out, as do defenders Fikayo Tomori and Marc Guehi.
There is space for Manchester City duo Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips despite fitness concerns, while Marcus Rashford — who last played for the Three Lions in the Euro 2020 final — is in as expected.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will also travel to Qatar following the injury to Reece James, but Luke Shaw is the only left-back in the squad.
England World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Newcastle), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal)
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) Conor Coady (Everton) Eric Dier (Tottenham), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ben White (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Manchester City), Declan Rice (West Ham)
Forwards: Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Manchester City), Harry Kane (Tottenham), James Maddison (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Callum Wilson (Newcastle)
Maddison's surprise selection
The clamour for Maddison’s inclusion has been growing by the week as he continues to excel for Leicester.
Last season, in a team struggling for consistency, he scored 18 goals and set up 12, while he has carried that on this term with six goals and four assists.
But he has not been included in any England squads since he made his debut three years ago as a sub against Montenegro.
Just a month earlier, Maddison was pictured in a casino watching a 6-0 win in Bulgaria after he pulled out of the squad with illness.
That appeared to blot his copybook in Southgate’s mind and with the likes of Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Mason Mount performing well, he looked set to miss out.
But now Southgate has opted to call him up, the 25-year-old playmaker will be hoping to force his way into the starting line-up.
The England boss said: "He's playing really well. He's a good player, we've always said he's a good player. He's earned the right. He can give us something slightly different to the other attacking players.
"He's playing as well as any attacking player in this country. I did speak to James this morning because there was a lot of speculation he wouldn't be with us. We decided a couple of weeks ago that he would."
It felt like Toney and Wilson were battling it out to join both Harry Kane and Abraham in Qatar.
But Southgate has opted to select only one of them — and Wilson’s red-hot form has forced his hand.
Six goals in 10 Premier League games, including three in his last three, have proven enough to leapfrog the Roma and Brentford men.
With Rashford firing on all cylinders for Manchester United again, Wilson will provide a different option up top.
Southgate added: "Tammy’s had a poor run of scoring form at the wrong time really. It isn’t a case where we’re three or four weeks away from the first game, we’re 10 days away.
"Form could be more important. We don’t really know where they are form-wise. We’re watching their club form but we don’t know where they are until we see them face-to-face."
The White stuff
After just missing out on the Euro 2020 squad, White has forced his way into the World Cup group with consistently excellent displays for Arsenal.
The Gunners defender, 25, has only been named in one squad since England lost to Italy in the final 16 months ago, yet has moved ahead of Tomori and Guehi in the queue.
Key to his inclusion could be his versatility, which has seen the ex-Brighton man used at right-back by Mikel Arteta this season instead of his preferred central position.