The five major winners from England’s final Nations League squad

The stars who benefitted from a poor international break

England’s dismal Nations League campaign came to an end in lacklustre fashion over the past week as a 1-0 defeat to Italy saw their relegation confirmed, a fact that they followed with an error-strewn 3-3 draw with Germany.

You can read who we thought did their World Cup hopes serious damage here, but amid the chaos there were some people that came out of it much better than they went in.

Here are five we think have managed just that.

1. Jude Bellingham

At the beginning of the international break, it was unclear whether Bellingham would be granted a start in this England side, but two good performances, particularly against Germany where he was awarded the Man of the Match, have made him practically undroppable for the tournament opener in just under two months’ time.

2. Harry Maguire

Maguire will likely have come into this international break with absolutely no confidence about keeping his position in Gareth Southgate’s side considering his poor form and lack of gametime.

However, Southgate stuck by him, with Maguire playing the full 180 minutes. His calamitous performance against Germany could damage his chances, but for better or for worse Southgate appears intent on keeping the Manchester United skipper in his backline at the World Cup, which will come as a relief to Maguire.

3. Bukayo Saka

Arsenal’s starlet had a night to forget against Italy playing out of position, but almost certainly secured his place in England’s starting XI for the World Cup opener with a brilliant cameo against Germany three days later.

Coming on with the score at 2-0, Saka had a hand in all three goals and went close to grabbing the winner in a high-octane cameo. It is hard to see how he can be dropped against Iran.

Saka Arsenal Betting Odds

4. Jordan Pickford

The first of two players excluded from the squad through injury, Everton no.1 Jordan Pickford saw no serious challenge to his spot as England’s first-choice goalkeeper as Nick Pope put in a pair of very ordinary performances and looked uncomfortable with his feet.

While Aaron Ramsdale may have offered more of a challenge, he was not afforded a chance. Pickford will be no.1 at the World Cup.

5. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford was expected to be in the England squad as a reward for his good form with Manchester United at the beginning of the season, but was forced to miss out through injury.

However, his rival for the final forward position in the squad, Jarrod Bowen, did not see a single minute of action and did little to further his claim to the shirt, which leaves the door open for Rashford to sneak back in before November.

Read more:

Five major losers from England’s final international break before World Cup 2022

Bukayo Saka receives Lionel Messi comparisons from teammate after England cameo

Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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