A look at the 24 Football League players who are off to this years World Cup

IN THIS article, I have decided to take a look at all 24 English Football League players who are off to Russia for this years FIFA World Cup.

Over recent years, the EFL has certainly grown in quality and reputation, so it might not surprise many that a high volume of players from the Championship and League One have been called up to their country’s World Cup squads.

Here’s the complete list of players heading to Russia this summer … (I have decided to included players that have been on loan at EFL clubs during the 2017/18 season too).

Australia

Mile Jedinak

Image result for mile jedinak australia
PICTURE: Goal.com.

Age: 33

Club: Aston Villa

Position: Defensive Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 28

2017/18 Club Goals:2

Int. Caps: 74

Int. Goals: 18

Although Injured for almost half of the 2017/18 season, Mile Jedinak was an important figure in Aston Villa’s play-off campaign, scoring an important goal in the club’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough in the semi-final’s first leg.

The Socceroos captain’s vast experience of playing Premier League football and in international tournaments (this will be his third World Cup!) will be vital in whatever success Australia may have in Russia.

Tim Cahill

Image result for tim cahill australia
PICTURE: PopSugar Australia.

Age: 38

Club: Millwall

Position: Attacking Midfield/Striker

2017/18 Club Appearances: 10

2017/18 Club Goals: 0

Int. Caps: 106

Int. Goals: 50

Cahill hasn’t made much of an impact at Millwall since signing on a free transfer from Melbourne City in January, making all his 10 appearances from the bench and only playing a total of 63 minutes for the Championship Club.

However, we all know how influential the 38-year-old has been for Austrialia over the years and with him scoring at least once in each of the three World Cup campaigns he’s been a part of, who’s to say that he couldn’t pull out another vital goal for the Aussies in what is likely to be his last World Cup appearance.

James Meredith

Image result for james meredith australia
PICTURE: Getty Images.

Age: 30

Club: Millwall

Position: Left Back

2017/18 Club Appearances: 47

2017/18 Club Goals:0

Int. Caps: 2

Int. Goals: 0

Meredith has been ever present for Millwall during the 2017/18 season and has become a bit of a fan favourite at the New Den largely due to his commitment to get stuck into challenges.

Perhaps fortunately for him, Bournemouth’s Brad Smith was ineligible due to injury and Meredith was therefore brought in as Australia’s reserve left back (behind Bursaspor’s Aziz Behich) and will be itching to get a chance to show what he can do on the world stage.

Massimo Luongo

Image result for massimo luongo australia
PICTURE: QPR.co.uk.

Age: 25

Club: Queens Park Rangers

Position: Centre Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 39

2017/18 Club Goals: 6

Int. Caps: 35

Int. Goals: 5

Luongo is a deep-lying midfielder had a fantastic season for QPR last season, getting involved with nine goals (six of his own and three assists) from the heart of midfield.

He plays almost as a box to box midfielder at times, mostly sitting just in front of the defence, but isn’t afraid of supporting attacks further up the field either.

He will find it difficult to get into the first XI with Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy and the aforementioned Jedinak in front of him in the pecking order. Make no mistake though, he should certainly be able to make his mark on this team during his time in Russia.

Jackson Irvine

Image result for jackson irvine australia
PICTURE: 90min.com

Age: 25

Club: Hull City

Position: Central Midfield/Attacking Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 42

2017/18 Club Goals: 3

Int. Caps: 19

Int. Goals: 2

The Hull midfielder used to ply his trade in a more defensive role until recently, where he’s been utilised by City as an attacking midfielder to great aplomb.

He’s been in great form in what was an awful season for the Tigers last season, scoring two goals (the other goal he scored last season was for Burton earlier in the season) and assisting a further six.

Depending on what formation Australia play in the World Cup, Irvine might not start in the starting eleven, but there will certainly be fierce competition for the CAM role between him and Celtic’s Tom Rogic.

Costa Rica

Bryan Oviedo

Image result for bryan oviedo costa rica
PICTURE: Nacion.com.

Age: 28

Club: Sunderland

Position: Left Back/Left Wing-Back

2017/18 Club Appearances: 37

2017/18 Club Goals: 2

Int. Caps: 41

Int. Goals: 1

Oviedo was a main stay in the Sunderland team that were relegated for the second time in successive seasons last year.

The full-back was one of the Black Cats more competent performers last season in a woeful defence that won’t be remembered for doing anything good anytime soon.

He is Costa Rica’s main left back in their five man defence, and will definitely want to impress, not least because it’s his first World Cup after injury prevented him playing in the 2014 World Cup, but also because he will want to impress other clubs, as he has already made it known that he has no desire to play in League One with Sunderland.

Denmark

Henrik Dalsgaard

Image result for henrik dalsgaard
PICTURE: DR.

Age: 28

Club: Brentford

Position: Right Back

2017/18 Club Appearances: 32

2017/18 Club Goals: 1

Int. Caps: 11

Int. Goals: 0

After bouncing back from a heel injury back in November that forced him out of the Bees defence for three months, Dalsgaard will want to maintain his recent form to establish himself as Denmark’s starting right back in Russia. Although he will have to do well to keep out Copenhagen’s Peter Ankersen.

One advantage he possesses over Ankersen is his work rate that allows him to move up and down the right-hand side of the pitch, helping out his midfield.

Jonas Knudsen

Image result for jonas knudsen denmark
PICTURE: East Anglian Daily Times.

Age: 25

Club: Ipswich Town

Position: Left Back

2017/18 Club Appearances: 44

2017/18 Club Goals: 1

Int. Caps: 3

Int. Goals: 0

Knudsen is a left back who has had an amazing season in an otherwise disappointing one for the Tractor Boys.

His attacking tendencies led to him bagging seven assists for Town, and he should provide stern competition for Jens Stryger Larsen for the Danish left back position.

Although likely to be on the bench for the majority of their World Cup campaign, Jonas will be a different option to look for on the substitutes bench for the Danes’ management team.

Egypt

Ahmed Elmohamady

Image result for elmohamady egypt
PICTURE: Zimbio.

Age: 30

Club: Aston Villa

Position: Right Back/Right Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 45

2017/18 Club Goals: 0

Int. Caps: 81

Int. Goals: 2

The experienced full back was an important member of the Championship play-off finalists last season.

His vast experience of playing Premier League and international football will be invaluable for a national side that will be competing in it’s first World Cup since 1990.

Although unlikely to take the right back position from Ahmed Fathi, Elmohamady’s versatility will mean that he could slot in on the right side of their three man midfield if needed.

Sam Morsy

Image result for sam morsy egypt
PICTURE: The Times.

Age: 26

Club: Wigan Athletic

Position: Centre Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 47

2017/18 Club Goals: 3

Int. Caps: 5

Int. Goals: 0

The only player who played League One football last season on this list, Morsy was an unsung hero for the League One champions.

He operates as an engine in the heart of the Latics midfield, working hard to win the ball for his team. However, he will find it difficult to dislodge Terek Hamed and Mohamed Elneny in the two more defensive positions in the Egyptian midfield.

Although, the Egyptian head coach Hector Cuper has shown faith in Morsy with his inclusion in the recent warm up friendlies and a call up to the World Cup squad and the hard-working midfielder will be a useful addition off the bench.

Iceland

Hordur Magnusson

Image result for hordur magnusson iceland
PICTURE: Goal.com

Age: 25

Club: Bristol City

Position: Centre Back/Left Back

2017/18 Club Appearances: 32

2017/18 Club Goals: 0

Int. Caps: 15

Int. Goals: 2

The strong defender was used primarily as back up for left back Joe Bryan over the course of last season, making the majority of his appearances when filling in for the latter or to cover for Nathen Baker in Centre Back.

His role in the Icelandic World Cup Squad will be similar to his club role, being a back up to left back Ari Freyr Skulason and the left sided Centre back position if needed.

His ease to fit in both at left back, or as a ball-playing centre back makes him a useful addition to the squad where injury or suspension could ruin a teams chance at tournament level.

Aron Gunnarsson

Image result for aron gunnarsson iceland
PICTURE: Express.

Age: 29

Club: Cardiff City

Position: Centre Midfield/Defensive Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 20

2017/18 Club Goals: 1

Int. Caps: 77

Int. Goals: 2

Gunnarsson was unlucky to have a somewhat injury plagued season for the promoted Blue Birds.

The tireless midfielder was out for four months with a reoccurring ankle injury, but made good progress to make a come back at the end of April, before picking up another knee injury in the penultimate game of the season which required surgery.

Iceland’s captain has again made a good recovery and was on the bench for the last couple of Iceland’s warm up friendlies, meaning he could start in the Vikings’ midfield in their World Cup opener against Argentina.

His tirelessness and determination to win the ball back coupled with his work rate to support attacks means that he is the key to any potential successes for Iceland in Russia.

Birkir Bjarnason

Image result for birkir bjarnason
PICTURE: Iceland Mag.

Age: 30

Club: Aston Villa

Position: Left Midfield/Central Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 29

2017/18 Club Goals: 4

Int. Caps: 67

Int. Goals: 9

The left sided midfield player put in a good shift for Villa last season, contributing to seven goals (four of his own and three assists) in 29 appearances.

For the Championship side, he was used both as a wide player and a central midfielder, but he is used mostly on the left wing for Iceland. He likes to cut inside on his stronger right foot, making space for an over lapping full back, or picking out an onrushing attacker.

Bjarnason is Iceland’s starting left midfielder so will have the chance to show the world what he can do at the highest level this summer just as he did in his side’s surprising Euro 2016 campaign.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson

Image result for jón daði böðvarsson
PICTURE: SportsDay.

Age: 26

Club: Reading

Position: Striker

2017/18 Club Appearances: 36

2017/18 Club Goals: 10

Int. Caps: 38

Int. Goals: 2

Bodvarsson arguably had the best campaign of his career for the Royals last season, scoring 10 goals for the Championship side. However, its the work rate and determination that stands out with this target man.

The 6’ 3” forward is one of the most hard working strikers you are likely to see at the World Cup this year, closing down defenders and linking up with fellow forwards rather that looking to score.

If Iceland play with two forwards in Russia, then Bodvarsson will definitely compliment his side’s more natural goal scorer, Alfred Finnbogason.

Iran

Ashkan Dejagah

Image result for ashkan dejagah
PICTURE: Eurasia Review.

Age: 31

Club: Nottingham Forest

Position: Attacking Midfielder/Right Winger

2017/18 Club Appearances: 1

2017/18 Club Goals:0

Int. Caps: 44

Int. Goals: 8

Attacking midfielder Dejagah signed for Forest in January, and only played 14 minutes due to a knee injury sustained on his debut.

This has effected his place in the Iran squad, as he has only appeared once in six months for his country. However, with Iran playing various formations with five in midfield, and Dejagah able to play anywhere across the middle, he will certainly be a decent squad player to have.

With the 31 year old out of contract at the end of June, he will definitely want to grab his chance to impress any potential new suitors.

Poland

Related image
PICTURE: Dziennik.

Bartosz Bialkowski

Age: 30

Club: Ipswich Town

Position: Goalkeeper

2017/18 Club Appearances: 46

2017/18 Club Clean Sheets: 13

Int. Caps. 1

One of the top ‘keepers in the Championship last season, and Ipswich’s Player of the Season for 2017/18. However, Bialkowski is very unlucky due to the fact that the former Arsenal duo of Wojciech Szczesny and Lukasz Fabianski are in front of him in the pecking order for the national team.

The Polish coaching staff will know that Bialkowski is not just there to make up the numbers however and I’m sure they will be confident that he can make the step up if the injuries or suspensions were to hit the other two goalkeepers.

Kamil Grosicki

Image result for kamil grosicki poland
PICTURE: DreamsTime.

Age: 30

Club: Hull City

Position: Left Winger/Right Winger

2017/18 Club Appearances: 38

2017/18 Club Goals: 9

Int. Caps: 57

Int. Goals: 12

The experienced winger has had an impressive season for City, having been involved in 15 goals (nine of his own and six assists) for the club.

The tricky winger will also be crucial for his national side out on the left wing, as he was involved in six goals in just nine games during their World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Grosicki’s fantastic vision for crosses and a keen eye for goal makes him unpredictable in attacking positions. Keep an eye out for him this summer as he may just end up being involved in a vital goal for Poland.

Morocco

Romain Saiss

Image result for romain saiss morocco
PICTURE: France Football.

Age: 28

Club: Wolverhampton Wonderers

Position: Defensive Midfield/Centre Back

2017/18 Club Appearances: 44

2017/18 Club Goals: 4

Int. Caps: 20

Int. Goals: 1

Saiss has been an important, and a somewhat underrated member, of the Wolves Championship winning side this season. His determination and work rate to chase down the opposition and win back possession has been crucial to the success at Molineux.

Although usually a defensive midfielder at Wolves, Saiss is primarily used as a Centre Back for Morocco and is regularly the first name on the team sheet. His work rate, determination and ball playing abilities will be vital if the African side are to have any success at this years World Cup.

Senegal

Alfred N’Diaye

Image result for alfred n'diaye senegal
PICTURE: Dakar Flash.

Age: 28

Club: Wolverhampton Wonderers (On loan from Villareal)

Position: Defensive Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 37

2017/18 Club Goals: 3

Int. Caps 18

Int. Goals: 1

The powerful defensive midfielder who was on loan from Villareal could only make contributions off the bench for Wolves, with the centre midfield pairing of Ruben Neves and Romain Saiss being so undroppable.

Despite this, N’Diaye is an important member of the Senegal team, where he will likely partner Idrissa Gueye in central midfield or just in front of the back four in a midfield three.

Cheikh N’Doye

Image result for cheikh ndoye senegal
PICTURE: lesenegal.net

Age: 32

Club: Birmingham City

Position: Central Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 40

2017/18 Club Goals: 0

Int. Caps: 23

Int. Goals: 3

The tough tackling midfielder played a big part in what was ultimately a disappointing season for City, and his reward for helping the Blues to avoid relegation was the inclusion in the Senegal World Cup Squad.

He may not be in the first eleven though as players like Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, Wolves’ Alfred N’Diaye and Stoke’s Badou N’Diaye will be in front of him in the pecking order, but his experience and physicality may give the Senegalese management team something to think about.

Serbia

Marko Grujic

Image result for mark grujic serbia
PICTURE: The Mirror.

Age: 22

Club: Cardiff City (On Loan from Liverpool)

Position: Defensive Midfield/Central Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances; 14

2017/18 Club Goals: 1

Int. Caps: 7

Int. Goals: 0

The deep-lying playmaker was only at City for half the season after signing on loan from Liverpool, but his contribution at the heart of midfield was vital to get the Welsh club over the line to secure promotion to the Premier League.

Although dislodging the likes of Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic, Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic and Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is unlikely, Marko’s ability will mean that he won’t be too far away from the first team, and we are very likely to see him make an appearance off the bench.

Aleksandar Mitrovic

Image result for aleksandar mitrovic serbia
PICTURE: SportyNews.

Age: 23

Club: Fulham (On loan from Newcastle United)

Position: Striker

2017/18 Club Appearances: 20

2017/18 Club Goals: 12

Int. Caps: 36

Int. Goals: 13

The striker joined Fulham in the January transfer window on dead-line day from Newcastle and was in phenomenal form throughout, scoring 12 goals in just half a season to help Fulham to gain promotion back to the Premier League.

Mitrovic will be Serbia’s main striking option at the World Cup too and not only will he be their main goal threat, but he will also bring others into the game through his crucial hold up play.

With the recent form he has been in, and with players like Dusan Tadic, Adem Ljajic and Filip Kostic all around him, it will be not be a huge surprise to see him bag a few goals at this World Cup.

Sweden

Pontus Jansson

Image result for pontus jansson sweden
PICTURE: Radio Yorkshire.

Age: 27

Club: Leeds United

Position: Centre Back

2017/18 Club Appearances: 43

2017/18 Club Goals: 3

Int. Caps: 15

Int. Goals: 0

The physical and tough tacking defender has become a bit of a fan favourite at Elland Road since joining from Torino.

However, perhaps only bad fortune for the Swedish defence would allow Jansson to play in front of captain Andreas Granquist and Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof, unless the Swedish management team move away from their trusted 4-4-2 and go for three at the back.

Sebastian Larsson

Image result for sebastian larsson sweden
PICTURE: UEFA.

Age: 33

Club: Hull City

Position: Central Midfield

2017/18 Club Appearances: 40

2017/18 Club Goals: 2

Int. Caps: 98

Int. Goals: 6

The hard working playmaker has had a good season for Hull, contributing in seven goals (Scoring twice and assisting a further five), in what was a disastrous campaign for the club as a whole.

Larsson will likely start in the heart of midfield in what will be his first and most likely also his last World Cup with Sweden.

He is only two games off his century of representing his country, so it’s likely to be a memorable tournament for the 33-year-old.

——————————————————

Finally, just for a bit of fun, I’ve decided to put together an EFL World Cup XI …

GK: Bialkowski

LB: Oviedo

CB: Saiss

CB: Jansson

RB: Elmohamady

CM: Jedinak

CM: Grujic

LW: Bjarnason

CAM: Irvine

RW: Grosicki

ST: Mitrovic

PICTURE: Jacob Sznober.

 

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