Some of the Premier League’s most recognisable names will be strutting their stuff at the World Cup later this year.
But forget Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea. Did you know there could also be representatives of Luton Town, AFC Bournemouth and Cardiff hoping to make their name on the biggest stage of all?
Here are all the Championship stars in contention for a World Cup spot…
You won’t be surprised to learn that it’s the home nations who will be best represented by Championship clubs in Qatar. Rob Page’s Wales squad will be headlined by two bonafide A-listers, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, but the dressing room will be distinctly more Bournemouth than Bernabeu.
Kieffer Moore is likely to lead the line for Wales. Chris Mepham and David Brooks – should he recover in time to feature – are all-but guaranteed a seat on the plane too. Cardiff City trio Will Vaulks, Rubin Colwill and Mark Harris will also be in contention. So might youngsters Isaak Davies and Eli King, should they maintain their recent at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Then there’s Derby County captain Tom Lawrence. Plus Fulham duo Harry Wilson and Neco Williams, Sorba Thomas of Huddersfield Town, Tom Lockyer of Luton, Rhys Norrington-Davies of Sheffield United, Ben Cabango of Swansea City, Brennan Johnson of Nottingham Forest and, of course, Joe Allen of Stoke.
Tom Bradshaw, meanwhile, recently announced his intention to fight for a spot in Page’s final-23 after a super season at Millwall (News at Den).
Wales have already booked their ticket for the so-called Festival of Football. Whether Scotland join them remains to be seen. Steve Clarke’s side face Ukraine in a long-awaited play-off in June.
Steve Clarke’s Scotland
Succeed and supporters from Giffnock to Glasgow will be cheering on Bournemouth’s former Celtic schemer Ryan Christie, Forest stopper Scott McKenna and veteran QPR ‘keeper David Marshall. Lyndon Dykes and Oli McBurnie could go head-to-head for a starting spot up top. But maybe Clarke will spring a surprise and go with the mobile Jacob Brown, fresh of his most prolific campaign thus far at Stoke.
John Fleck’s hopes of a place in the Scotland squad, meanwhile, will be given a sizeable boost if the Blades secure a return to the Premier League.
South of the border, there’s one member of Gareth Southgate’s roster who played his football in the second-tier in 2021/22. Not that the out-of-contract Sam Johnstone is going to stick around for another season at West Brom, his contract expiring in July.
If included, Johnstone will be watching on from the sidelines as England face off against a USA side potentially containing Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson (both Fulham) and £7 million Daryl Dike (West Brom). Ethan Horvath is the United States’ back-up option behind Zack Steffen. Canada’s first ever World Cup could see Richie Laryea, also of Forest, feature.
There will be no Ben Brereton Diaz. Chile failed to qualify. But another of the Championship’s most free-scoring forwards will be in Qatar. Aleksandr Mitrovic is just as prolific for his country (Serbia, 44 goals in 71 caps) as he is for his club.
World Cup hopefuls
Bristol City’s Antoine Semenyo recently changed his international allegiance to Ghana.
Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry and Sweden), Emil Riis (Preston and Denmark) and Philip Billing (Bournemouth and Denmark) will hope that their excellent recent form stands them in good stead too. Ditto Kenny Tete (Fuham and Netherlands) and Filip Uremovic (Sheffield United and Croatia).
And, who knows, if Fulham wonderkid Fabio Carvalho makes a flying start to life at Liverpool, maybe there will be a place in Portugal’s midfield up for grabs.