Leeds United striker handed outside chance at World Cup appearance with latest FIFA ruling

Teams at this year's winter World Cup in Qatar will be permitted to name 26-man squads for the first time, say football's administrative body FIFA

By Joe Donnohue
Friday, 24th June 2022, 5:00 pm

Leeds United forward Patrick Bamford missed the overwhelming majority of last season with a litany of injuries.

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Bamford began the campaign promisingly, earning a maiden England call-up, making his Three Lions debut on his 28th birthday against Andorra.

CALL-UP: England striker Patrick Bamford hopes to build on his solitary Three Lions cap to date (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

However, an ankle injury sustained away to Newcastle United two weeks later would prove only the beginning of Bamford's nightmare season.

His first chance at a comeback arose almost three months later in early December, when Bamford's last-minute intervention helped the Whites draw 2-2 with Brentford at Elland Road.

An overzealous celebration led to a hamstring injury and another month on the sidelines.

Thigh problems followed, then a long-standing foot issue reared its head away to Wolverhampton Wanderers in March. From there, Bamford's season was over: nine league appearances, two goals and two assists to show for it.

Consequently, the 28-year-old has slipped down the pecking order with England as the Three Lions have evolved without him after their European Championships disappointment of last summer.

Bamford faces a task to even be capped again by his country given the talent pool available to boss Gareth Southgate.

His 17-goal haul during 2020/21 led to his initial call-up after missing out on the Euros squad in which teammate Kalvin Phillips excelled.

It is not out of the question that a fast start to next season could yield an unexpected call-up to Southgate's squad for the World Cup Finals in Qatar later this year, though.

The early start to the 2022/23 campaign means Leeds will kick-off their Premier League campaign on August 6, playing five matches before the opening month of the season is complete.

There are also seven league matches before the first international break in next season's calendar, giving players on the fringes such as Bamford ample opportunity to demonstrate their candidacy to national team bosses.

FIFA's latest ruling has seen the number of players per nation permitted at this year's World Cup increased from 23 to 26.

An additional three players in each squad allows oft-overlooked players the opportunity of a lifetime - to represent their country at an international tournament.

Granted, the 26th man in each team is unlikely to spend much time on the pitch over in Qatar but for those like Bamford who turns 29 in September, the chances of appearing at one major international tournament appear limited to the upcoming World Cup.

Tyler Roberts is another who may benefit from the increase in the number of players allowed per squad.

The Welsh international has featured sporadically for his country but missed Wales' crucial qualification matches through injury.

At club level, Roberts' game-time will become increasingly limited if Leeds add further reinforcements in midfield and attack as is expected.

Despite this, Roberts' status within the Wales group should be enough to ensure he is selected in manager Rob Page's historic group.

The three additional places Wales will be allowed should serve as insurance for the Leeds man.