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Callum Wilson makes Gareth Southgate’s 55-man squad ahead of World Cup

The striker is one of the forwards included in the Three Lions preliminary list

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England v Montenegro - UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Leaks related to Gareth Southgate’s preliminary 55-man list of English players ahead of the Qatar World Cup are starting to drop. According to The Athletic, Callum Wilson is one of the strikers picked up by the Three Lions' head coach to backup presumable starter Harry Kane.

The outlet is also reporting the inclusion of Brighton players Lewis Dunk and Danny Welbeck in the 55-man list. No more leaks have been reported at the time of this writing, with the final 26-man list to be submitted by Nov. 14—although England are expected to name all players earlier on Nov. 10.

Wilson, who has bagged six goals in 14 Premier League matches, will have to beat the likes of Ivan Toney (eight league goals), Tammy Abraham (two), Marcus Rashford (four), and Dominic Calvert-Lewin (one) in order to get Kane’s understudy position in the England World Cup squad. Southgate has historically selected only two pure strikers for his national squads, one to start games—Harry Kane in the latest and upcoming tournaments—and one backup for the Spurs forward.

Although Toney has more goals and assists (10 total) than Wilson’s current tally of eight, the truth is that they are very close in G/90 and A/90 and even closer in xG+xA through MD14 of the 2022/23 season. Toney leads Wilson by just 0.9 combined expected stats, 7.0 to the Magpie's 6.1.

On a per-90-minute basis, though, is where Wilson clearly edges his main foe: Wilson has posted up a combined mark of 0.85 xG+xA to Toney’s 0.72. Makes sense, considering Wilson's total, actual, counting numbers he had reached over just nine games played compared to Toney’s 13 appearances (all games played through MD14 factoring in the postponed match day after the passing of the Queen).

There is always a chance Southgate picks Kane along with the two of Toney and Wilson with the former excelling at penalty-taking duties and the latter the more prolific, in-play goalscorer.

Marcus Rashford is an intriguing alternative, too, considering he can play on the left wing and alternate between a central position—where he’s by Erik ten Hag at Manchester United and that slightly shifted deployment closer to the flank.

There are only two more games—three, including the EFL Cup—between now and the World Cup, so all strikers in contention for that final call-up will try to bag as many goals as possible while making sure to stay in shape, healthy, and available for the big international tournament to be held in Qatar during the months of November and December.

Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier are also expected to make Gareth Southgate’s final list of 26 men without as much drama as in Callum Wilson’s case.