Thursday’s England team announcement was significant for those hoping to be on the plane to Qatar in two months’ time.
The players named in the 28-man roster are making their way to the World Cup, but those left out have their work cut out for them between now and November 13th.
One of those against it is Manchester United winger Jadon Sancho, who was once again snubbed by England boss Gareth Southgate and won the last of his 23 caps in October 2021.
“There were a number of players we wanted to be involved this time around,” Southgate said on Thursday. “But that does not mean that this is the end for others who are not involved.”
But Sancho set out to prove Southgate wrong within hours of the announcement, scoring the opening goal. United 2-0 Europa League victory in Tiraspol Sheriff.
“It’s disappointing not to get a call-up, but I have to keep working hard and hopefully get a call-up to the World Cup,” the 22-year-old said afterwards.
“I have to focus on myself to keep working hard.”
Sanxo “deserves to be more than Grealish”
Sancho put United ahead in Moldova when he controlled Christian Eriksen’s pass, beat a defender and fired a cool finish into the bottom corner.
The winger endured a difficult first campaign at Old Trafford following his £73million move from Borussia Dortmund last summer, but now looks set to turn the tide under new boss Erik ten Hag.
He has scored three goals in the last six games, as many as he scored in the previous 24 games combined.
“I’m really happy [for Jadon]”said Ten Hag. “Another goal, and he already scored a lot of goals in his pre-season and has three in the season. He is doing well.
“But I think there’s a lot more room for him because he has a lot of ability. Bring him on the field when he has that belief, and he can improve even more.”
Sancho’s record is even better this term for a place in the squad where he is competing with some of his England counterparts.
Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has found the net just once this term, while Manchester City’s Jack Grealish and Chelsea’s Mason Mount are yet to get off the mark.
Former United and England midfielder Paul Scholes told BT Sport: “Gareth has picked his players for a reason, maybe from previous teams, but I think it’s worth going against Jack Grealish at the moment.
“It’s better to get inside, he doesn’t have that electrifying pace. If he can find players to link up with, he can be a good player for United.”
Former United and England midfielder Owen Hargreaves added: “When you get bad news, it makes good news.
“Players want to be in the biggest games, there’s a big tournament and he’ll be worried about that, but it’s out of his hands. He’s playing well this season, that’s all he can do.”
Meanwhile, Sancho can credit his latest goal to some “lucky” new shinpads that a young fan gifted him in a social media video.
Santxo explained to BT Sport afterwards: “He asked me to ring him and I said ‘yes, no problem’.
“It was a small gesture on my part, to show that I was wearing the shoes he gave me.”