England manager Gareth Southgate has been handed the green light to select 26 players in his World Cup squad as FIFA look to tackle fears over player welfare.
And in what will come as a boost to the Three Lions boss, he will be able to select all 26 in a match-day squad – eliminating the awkward decision of having to axe three squad members ahead of a fixture.
On Thursday, FIFA approved 26-man squads for Qatar 2022, which kicks off in November.
Historically nations have been limited to selecting 23 players for major tournaments.
However, since the Covid pandemic football’s governing bodies have relaxed rules amid concerns over player welfare.
At Euro 2020, Southgate was able to select 26 players. However, UEFA only allowed teams to select a squad of 23 on a match-day, meaning three players suffered the heartache of not being involved.
At the time, Southgate spoke about the difficulties having to cut three players from a match-day party could cause to morale in camp during an intense tournament period.
But for the World Cup, the England boss will avoid that scenario after FIFA agreed that all players outside the starting XI can be named on the bench.
Southgate’s final squad of between 23 and 26 players has to be submitted by November 13 – the day the last Premier League games before the World Cup starts are to be played.
Nations can select an initial provisional long-list squad of 55 players.
On a match-day, no more than 26 people – including the 15 substitutes – can sit on the bench. Of the 11 remaining officials allowed in the technical area, one must be the team doctor.