Soccer Saturday pundits pick their wildcards to make England's World Cup squad

Soccer Saturday pundits
Image: Soccer Saturday pundits pick their wildcards to make the plane to Russia for England

We asked the Soccer Saturday pundits who they fancy as wildcards to make the World Cup ahead of Gareth Southgate's latest England squad announcement.

The England boss will announce his squad for friendlies against Holland and Italy on Thursday, with plenty of questions remaining over who will make the plane to Russia.

Harry Kane's recent ankle injury has raised concerns over the Three Lions' striker selections, while debate remains over who should start in central midfield, at centre-back and, most alarmingly of all, in goal, with regular No 1 Joe Hart struggling for playing time at West Ham.

Here's who the Soccer Saturday pundits fancy to force their way into contention...

Paul Merson's pick: Alfie Mawson (12/1 with Sky Bet to make the World Cup squad)

Alfie Mawson of Swansea City in action against Crystal Palace
Image: Alfie Mawson helped Swansea's 10 men hold Huddersfield to a draw

I watched him at Huddersfield the other day and he was outstanding. He's a proper defender and can also play out from the back.

Southgate clearly doesn't fancy Chris Smalling so we've got Phil Jones and Harry Maguire unless he changes the rules, because John Stones isn't playing regularly for Manchester City and Gary Cahill doesn't always play for Chelsea.

You have to go with five centre-halves if you're going to play three at the back, which I think we will, so I'd be shocked if he doesn't get called up for the next squad.

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Matt Le Tissier's pick: Callum Wilson (9/1 with Sky Bet to make the World Cup squad)

I think there's a place up for grabs for a fourth forward and I could see Callum Wilson getting the edge over Glenn Murray. I think the forward line needs pace and Wilson has done pretty well recently and was unlucky not to have been given the goal against Tottenham.

He might get a chance in the upcoming friendlies, especially as there's not many other Englishmen standing out from the Premier League, although Charlie Austin will hopefully put himself in the mix after coming back and saving Southampton from relegation!

Phil Thompson's pick: James Tarkowski (7/2 with Sky Bet to make the World Cup squad)

James Tarkowski's Burnley beat Everton in the Premier League
Image: James Tarkowski's Burnley have the Premier League's fourth best defensive record

For a defender, James Tarkowski will be an interesting one as he has played very well and there are questions about Smalling, Stones has been in and out, Cahill hasn't been consistent, while Tarkowski and Ben Mee are a strong partnership that will play every week. I've got a good feeling that Tawkoski will be in the next squad.

There are other players on the fringes, strikers like Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch if they more game time and Glenn Murray is the forward who is in form, while Ryan Sessegnon is going to be a talented player but it is probably a step too far.

I also think Jonjo Shelvey should be considered. He does something that most of our other midfield options don't in always looking to play the ball forward, but he's got to prove he can handle the defensive side as well.

Charlie Nicholas' pick: Nick Pope (7/4 with Sky Bet to make the World Cup squad)

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 31:  Joselu of Newcastle United misses a penalty kick saved Nick Pope of Burnley during the Premier League match bet
Image: Nick Pope has flourished in Tom Heaton's absence

We had a good discussion about this on Soccer Saturday and obviously Southgate will be monitoring Tarkowski, but I do think there is better options out there at the moment.

You still should have to earn the right to be in there and the one who really stands out for me is Nick Pope at Burnley. Hart is having an almighty struggle while Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland haven't exactly covered themselves in glory.

Sessegnon is clearly talented but is one I'm not too sure because I still think that is one area where England have got other quality options.

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