In Focus: The Three Lions hopefuls pushing for World Cup selection
England finally showed signs of life against Germany last night but the 3-3 draw means they head into the World Cup on a six-game winless streak.
With a host of Gareth Southgate’s trusted stars not at their best right now, there are potential spots at Qatar still up for grabs.
We pick out five names who could earn a Three Lions place with a strong two months for their clubs.
Named in the squad but failing to play a single minute across games against Italy and Germany, Fikayo Tomori’s place at Qatar is far from certain.
The centre-back, 24, lacks international experience but continues to be one of Serie A's best defenders for AC Milan after winning the Scudetto last term.
Southgate stuck with more tried and tested options in the 1-0 defeat to the Azzurri and last night’s 3-3 draw with Germany in the hope of having a settled XI for the World Cup.
But with Harry Maguire once again failing to repay that faith as he sits on the bench at Manchester United, his inclusion is becoming increasingly difficult to justify.
Three-cap international Tomori looks deserving of a chance on that basis but whether the World Cup is the best place to try him out remains to be seen.
A miserable 12 months for Marcus Rashford saw him miss a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shoot-out before losing his England spot altogether during a poor season for Manchester United.
The 24-year-old looks revitalised under Erik ten Hag this term as he edges closer to his blistering form of old.
Rashford has three goals and two assists in his first six Premier League outings and with 46 caps to his name, is one of the most experienced options currently not involved.
After announcing his most recent squad, Southgate said: "There were certain players we wanted to keep involved this time, but that said it doesn’t mean that this is the end for some of the others who aren’t involved.
"Marcus Rashford, for example, has shown some encouraging signs recently. He is a player we know well so if he can perform at a high level in the next few weeks, he of course will be under consideration."
Clearly admired by the Three Lions boss, Rashford would likely have been in the latest squad had it not been for injury and fitness may be the biggest barrier that stands in the way of his place on the plane.
A stunning 2021-22 campaign for West Ham saw Jarrod Bowen deservingly earn his first international call-up back in May.
But having started the season poorly for the Hammers, some were surprised to see the right-sided forward keep his place.
That said, Bowen joining Tomori in the club of players who did not get a kick this international break shows he has plenty of work to do if he is to play at a maiden international tournament this winter.
His direct running and knack of scoring perhaps offers something different to England’s other current forwards, wo have been criticised for their lack of impact in the final third.
The 25-year-old could well be the wildcard option in the Middle East if he recaptures his form.
A surprise exclusion from the latest squad, an in-form Jadon Sancho would surely be priceless to any international boss at a major tournament.
The winger, 22, found himself in and out of the fold during an underwhelming first season for United but is another to start the current campaign well at Old Trafford.
Rio Ferdinand recently backed the trickster's World Cup credentials, suggesting he could be more effective at international level if given a run of games.
Asked if he would have included Sancho in the latest squad, the former Red Devil said: "Yeah I would have, given what he's done at the start of the season.
"Sancho probably suits international football more than the Premier League maybe, given the way he plays."
Ben White could be another to benefit from England’s current uncertainty in central defence.
While impressing at right-back for Premier League leaders Arsenal this term, centre-back remains his natural position and that should make him a consideration for the Three Lions boss.
Calm and composed on the ball for Mikel Arteta’s men, the 24-year-old would allow England to play out from the back similarly to how Maguire currently does.
Southgate still seems reluctant to play Tomori and the fact that White is starring for a big six club in England could see him emerge as the prime alternative.