As ever, a reminder: The order below is based not on our opinion, but our estimation of Roy Hodgson’s thoughts. Blame him, not us, if it makes you mad. The numbers in brackets are from the last ladder – in September after the San Marino/Switzerland games.
1 (1) – Wayne Rooney
‘If the Three Lions are to succeed at Euro 2016, then Hodgson must consider doing the unthinkable – dropping Rooney,’ wrote John Cross in the Daily Mirror this week. Sorry John, but it’s simply not going to happen. He’s the captain, he has just scored seven goals in qualifying and Danny Welbeck is the only other current player to have even reached double figures in an England shirt. Had Harry Kane scored two or three goals against Estonia and Lithuania, we could have talked.
2 (2) – Joe Hart
Thankfully, he is excellent. But at least the emergence of Jack Butland means no kittens will be birthed in his absence.
3 (5) – Chris Smalling
One more game and he will have as many caps as Ledley King; that tells you everything you need to know about the decline in English centre-halves over the last ten years. But Smalling is currently excellent and very, very much on the plane. We just wish there were more creative undroppables.
4 (3) – Raheem Sterling
He will never be loved like Ross Barkley (the new Messiah/Gascoigne/Rooney) by journalists and pundits, but the pace of England’s most expensive player will be a valuable weapon against technically better teams.
5 (4) – Harry Kane
Taking eight shots against Lithuania and still failing to score? Making a convincing case for being more than an impact substitute should have been a whole lot easier against this week’s opposition. He’ll go, mind.
6 (8) – Gary Cahill
The good news is that England’s centre-half partnership appears to be nailed down; the bad news is that Cahill has looked equally as rotten as any of his Chelsea teammates this season.
7 (7) – Jack Wilshere
Neither James Milner nor Jonjo Shelvey convinced anybody that Wilshere will not be back in that withdrawn midfield role once/if he is fit.
8 (15) – Leighton Baines
Yet to play this season and yet a high climber: Luke Shaw looks broken, Ryan Bertrand looks a decent, unspectacular back-up and Kieran Gibbs looks half a world away.
9 (6) – Jordan Henderson
Yet to play well in 22 England internationals and yet presumably guaranteed a place. Writing this reminds you just how many of Hodgson’s nominal first XI are injured.
10 (9) – Danny Welbeck
One of the reasons Jamie Vardy should book his summer holidays. Welbeck scored six goals in just five Euro 2016 qualifying matches; remember that when ‘f***ing Welbeck?’ is on the tip of your tongue.
11 (14) – Nathaniel Clyne
Started three of four qualifiers this season (despite Phil Jones being available for the Estonia game). Is Roy Hodgson finally convinced?
12 (22) – Ross Barkley
Well, well. What a week for the boy who gets more goodwill than Desmond Tutu. The clamour right now is for Barkley to start but can the sloppiness be eradicated from his game in time for Euro 2016? The boy sure has lovely feet but we would like to see them against defenders who don’t fall for every drop of the shoulder.
13 (11) – Phil Jones
Let’s face it, he will crowbar him in somewhere; he’s started England games in three positions in the last 12 months.
14 (16) – Daniel Sturridge
“We can survive without him over these two games, when we are already qualified. We are hoping for Daniel that he is a player that comes to us in November super fit, fully recovered and in great form. We think the best way to have that man in November is to leave him in October.” Sorry football romantics but Sturridge >>> Vardy and Ings.
15 (12) – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Unbeaten in 24 games for England so there’s absolutely zero chance that Hodgson will leave him at home.
16 (13) – James Milner
Useful. Like a tea tray.
17 (25) – Theo Walcott
What a difference a month makes. The unused substitute for the Switzerland game on September 8 had not scored for Arsenal this season. Four Gunners goals later and Walcott not only started against Estonia but a) scored and b) looked the business. Pushing Andros Townsend out of the reckoning should always be heartily applauded.
18 (23) – Jack Butland
Clean sheet. Phew. We have a No 2).
19 (17) – John Stones
Another player yet to lose in an England shirt; that could change next month.
20 (18) – Michael Carrick
‘Can we just bloody play Carrick at an international tournament please? Surely he deserves a go once!’ said one angry missive in Tuesday’s first mailbox. The slight problem is that Carrick has only started one qualifying game; England’s two best options for that withdrawn midfield role are made of balsa wood. The chances of them both being fit at the same time is close to miniscule. It’s a good job we have such convincing back-up (we don’t).
21 (20) – Ben Foster
Hopefully fit in time to have a lovely little trip to France.
22 (30) – Ryan Bertrand
Assuming Luke Shaw fails to make it (#prayforluke), Bertrand appears to be the next left-footed cab off the rank.
23 (27) Adam Lallana
He’s got some lovely feet. But how useful will those lovely feet be with England likely to play a counter-attacking game against better sides? An awful lot may now depend on Jurgen Klopp.
24 (10) – Luke Shaw
There’s still an outside chance.
25 (19) Andros Townsend
Huzzah. We have finally eased him out. Only got a call because of an injury (bizarrely, to John Stones) so perhaps the hex has finally been lifted. Just 61 minutes of Premier League football this season is not helping his cause; he’ll probably be back after a loan to Aston Villa.
26 (24) – Phil Jagielka
Seems odd to write this the day after he captained England against Lithuania, but surely only an injury will get Jagielka to France.
27 (26) – Jonjo Shelvey
Not really good enough in the role England need him.
28 (21) – Fabian Delph
What is it with English central midfielders being made of glass? His Manchester City ‘career’ amounts to 15 minutes of football.
29 (28) – Fraser Forster
30 (34) – Jamie Vardy
It’s all very lovely and everything but surely the return of Daniels Welbeck and Sturridge will end this little fairytale.
31 (29) – Kieran Gibbs
Looks very much like a Premier League player not actually playing Premier League football.
32 (36) – Danny Ings
Again, an awful lot depends on Jurgen Klopp.
33 (NE) – Dele Alli
Genuinely did not see that one coming. Somewhere in Essex, Mark Noble is kicking something. Probably a ball at training.
34 (39) – Kyle Walker
‘Not started a competitive game for England since late 2013. Will he ever start another?’ is what I wrote in September. Apparently yes. He has John Stones’ knee to thank.
35 (RE) – Wilfried Zaha
Come on Roy, he is so very much better than Andros Townsend.
36 (35) – Saido Berahino
It really must hurt to see Vardy don an England shirt.
37 (NE) – Eric Dier
When England desperately need a pure stopper in midfield, we can’t help thinking that Hodgson called up the wrong Tottenham midfielder (for now).
38 (33) – Ryan Mason
Another wrong Tottenham midfielder.
39 (49) – Marc Albrighton
Not as daft as it would have looked this time last year.
40 (31) – Danny Rose
Can the Europa League specialist get to the European Championship? Probably not, no.
41 (32) – Tom Cleverley
42 (38) – Ashley Young
43 (43) – Tom Heaton
44 (41) – Calum Chambers
45 (NE) – Jack Cork
46 (37) – Charlie Austin
47 (42) – Ryan Shawcross
48 (45) – Jack Colback
49 (46) – Aaron Cresswell
50 (50) – Phil Neville