The showpiece in Qatar starts in just five months and the Three Lions have only three games left: a clash with Hungary on Tuesday and two more Nations League matches in September.
That leaves players left out of the last roster with little time to prove themselves to Southgate, while only one player from United – skipper Harry Maguire – made the roster this time around.
Luke Shaw was unavailable after surgery and is expected to return to the World Cup when fit again, with Southgate not having chosen a single left-back in his latest squad.
But while there may be a lack of options at left-back, England have a plethora of in-form, attacking players meaning Sancho and Rashford in particular will have to fight to regain their place.
When he first announced his Nations League roster, Southgate said the duo still had time to reclaim their World Cup places, but now the England boss has admitted that they – and United’s other omitted stars – are a face a tough battle.
Asked about United’s players’ chances of being part of the World Cup squad, Southgate said: ‘We only have one with us! They have a lot to do to get back on the team.”
Examined whether United’s lighter workload without Champions League football could boost their chances, Southgate continued: “Well, look, I think the lower the load, the less chance of injury and the hope players can be that little bit sharper. but there is no way to know.
“Some players are at their best when they’re in a rhythm of play and you’re talking to some of our guys now and they want to play every game because that’s how they feel they’re getting to their best level.
“Others need the breaks, they need a longer recuperation between games to be at their best.”
Rashford has not played for England since he missed his penalty in the Euro 2020 shootout against Italy, while Sancho’s poor form since leaving Borussia Dortmund for Old Trafford has also lowered him in the pecking order.
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