LONDON – For the first time since 2012, football will have an international squad in next month’s FIFA World Cup.
The world’s top two leagues will be represented, with England and Russia both fielding their own squads.
More than 100 countries will be playing at the tournament.
It is the largest single-country tournament in the world, with 28 teams participating.
But there are major changes to the format.
England’s international squad will be comprised of 22 players from the top two tiers of the Premier League and Championship, including players who have played for England, France, Spain and Germany.
They will be the same number of internationals that have played in a World Cup qualifying group for the 2019 World Cup, which England won.
The squad will also feature the players who started in England’s previous tournament in 2019, the 2018 World Cup final, when England’s Jamie Vardy scored his 200th international goal in a 3-1 win over Argentina.
England’s top-flight season ended in the group stage of Euro 2020.
This summer, England will field a full squad from the group stages of the World Cup qualifiers, with six of the players already in the squad for the final, the Confederations Cup in Russia, in October.
With that squad, England’s main rivals, Germany and Argentina, will have only six internationals.
The other three, France and Spain, will be on standby for the World Cups qualifiers in Russia and South Africa.
England is also set to be without a player in the England squad for Euro 2020, the first World Cup since 2004.
Vardy’s England teammate Adam Lallana, who was dropped from the squad in the first week of June, is a central midfielder who can play at right-back or in the midfield.
Other players who will be absent are defenders Ashley Cole and Michael Dawson, midfielders Kyle Walker and Kyle Walker-Peters, wingers Danny Rose and Kyle Williams and defenders Chris Smalling and Joe Gomez.
England also lost two key players to the World Championships in Jordan Pickford and Ashley Cole, with Pickford being replaced in the middle of the season by Phil Jones, a central defender.
Lallana will also be absent, with Jones moving to left-back.
Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is one of the top strikers in world football, having scored at least 10 goals in seven of his 10 major international tournaments.
Coutinho’s Liverpool teammates include Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lalls, Daniel Sturr, Jordan Henderson, Luis Suarez and Philippe Couto.
England will play four matches against teams from the lower leagues of the English Premier League, the Championship, the Premier National League and the Conference, with three of those matches taking place in the final group stage.
If England fails to qualify for the finals, they face Germany and Russia.
For the first five matches in the knockout stages, England play two teams from their own lower leagues, while for the knockout stage finals they play one team from each of the three groups.