Newcastle’s World Cup Hopefuls – Who’s getting a seat on the plane?
With the news Newcastle United midfielder Bruno Guimarães being included in the Brazil squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it felt an appropriate time to assess the rest of the Newcastle squad and their chances of making the final cuts for their respective national teams, with just under two weeks until the opening game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.
A number of Eddie Howe’s men are in contention to travel to Qatar, but it is likely not all of them will make the eventual 26 man squads.
So who might be playing – and who might be watching at home?
SVEN BOTMAN – NETHERLANDS
Since his arrival from Lille, Botman has impressed United fans with his no nonsense yet composed style of play. He’s secured a starting place in the defence at St James’ Park, which is something he is yet to do within the Dutch national team. With the young centre back facing competition from the older, more experienced Virgil Van Dijk, Nathan Aké, Jurrien Timber and Matthias De Ligt, if Botman was to travel to Qatar, it would likely be as a back-up for Louis Van Gaal’s outfit.
CALLUM WILSON – ENGLAND
Wilson started the season well for Newcastle and has really hit the ground running since returning from injury in the absence of highly rated signing Alexander Isak, scoring three times in the last five games under Eddie Howe.
Despite this, Wilson’s injury may mean that he has hit form too late to stir Southgate’s attention, and the latter may choose to go the route of younger Brentford’s Ivan Toney, who has risen through the ranks to become a seasoned goalscorer in the Premier League. In addition, Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa, Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton and Tammy Abraham of Roma in Italy all continue to give Southgate a selection headache. One thing is certain, however – no matter which of these is picked, it will be to provide back up to the prolific Tottenham forward Harry Kane in Qatar, who is a dead cert to start in either the 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 configuration that Southgate so often opts for.
When asked about Callum Wilson’s chances of making the final cut, Jordan Cronin of Newcastle World said:
“I honestly don’t think he could have done any more. Six goals in 10 games is an excellent start to the campaign, and only Harry Kane has a better goals-per-minute ratio, which tells you that he is statistically England’s best striker behind the Tottenham Hotspur man.
“He gives you something different through his pace, which allows him to run in behind and his aggression can give any central defender problems. Importantly as well, Wilson is a clinical finisher. And you can’t help but admire his incredible mindset. He hasn’t hid from his desire to go to the World Cup and has let his football do the talking. Go on Gareth, do the right thing.”
KIERAN TRIPPIER – ENGLAND
Like Wilson, Trippier has produced some scintillating performances for Newcastle this season, often captaining the side and leading the backline to five clean sheets. And despite only having one goal contribution in a fine free-kick against Manchester City in September, Trippier continues to do himself justice, producing solid displays week in, week out.
With Southgate often opting to utilise wingbacks, Trippier is a good option to have due to his ability to play on both wings, and with the poor from of Trent Alexander-Arnold and the recent injury to Reece James which looks to have ruled him out of contention, it is hard to look past Trippier as a name that can be missed in the final 26 man squad.
Cronin also commented on what he believes Kieran Trippier’s role will be in the England set-up should he be included in the 26-man squad:
“To put it simply, a starting role. Again, the stats don’t lie and Trippier is one of England’s most in-form players right now. His impact at Newcastle has been quite incredible really. We all knew he was good but for me, he has exceeded expectations. Alongside Bruno Guimaraes, Trippier is Newcastle’s biggest creative threat, which, from right-back, is seriously impressive, whether that be from open play or set pieces.”
NICK POPE – ENGLAND
Despite Pope’s good form in a Newcastle shirt which has seen him keep five clean sheets this season, the goalkeeper did not cover himself in glory on his most recent England appearance, fumbling a shot in the late stages against Germany at Wembley to allow Chelsea’s Kai Havertz to level the scores at 3-3.
This, combined with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s good form in the last 18 months for club and country, will probably see Southgate will give him the nod as number one. Pope should be selected for the final cut, although he is surely behind both Aaron Ramsdale of Arsenal and Pickford when looking at selection for England’s first game against Iran on November 21.
FABIAN SCHÄR – SWITZERLAND
Fabian Schär, like all of those mentioned already, has been excellent for the Magpies this season in the Premier League and also an ever present, solid figure of the Swiss national team for a number of years now. Schär has missed just one game for Newcastle this season, their only defeat to date at Anfield away at Liverpool and will go to Qatar looking to play a key role in Murat Yakin’s side.
Newcastle’s World Cup hopefuls’ chances of a ticket on the plane to Qatar in just a few weeks’ time have been buoyed by superb league form under Eddie Howe. The Magpies have started this season in formidable form, and currently sit in the Champions League places.
It would appear that Nick Pope will travel as back-up in Southgate’s contingent, while Wilson may be expected to just miss out in a highly contested striker market, not helped with Southgate only opting to play one central striker. Trippier should have some involvement for England, but whether he gets the nod as a starter for Southgate remains to be seen. One thing’s for certain, there should certainly be a handful of Newcastle players flying the black and white flag out in Qatar in a few weeks’ time.