The best England stars who never played in the World Cup

With the 2014 World Cup underway, we look at the top five England players - from Manchester United, Arsenal, Southampton, Stoke and Chelsea - who never got the chance to feature on the world's biggest stage.

Duncan Edwards - Manchester United 

Labelled by Sir Bobby Charlton as the greatest footballer he ever played with, Edwards became an integral part of Manchester United’s famous 'Busby Babes' of the 1950s after signing for the club on his 16th birthday. A strong, physically-imposing midfielder, his tragic death in the 1958 Munich air disaster at the age of just 21 cut short what would have no doubt been a hugely successful career both for club and country.

Ian Wright - Arsenal / Crystal Palace

Wright’s sensational goalscoring exploits with Crystal Palace and Arsenal are well-known to most, but his England career was a largely underwhelming affair.

Not considered for Italia '90, he was a regular in Graham Taylor’s side which failed to make it to the 1994 World Cup in the US, before being ruled out of France '98 due to injury. With nine goals in 33 appearances, only Mike Channon has won more caps for England without making it to a World Cup or European Championship.

Mick Channon - Southampton

With a record of 157 goals in 391 appearances for Southampton between 1965 and 1977, Channon was one of the top English scorers of his era, and a regular fixture for the national team.

Despite his 46 caps, the striker never played in a major international tournament with England, as he was part of the squads which failed to qualify for both the 1974 World Cup and the 1976 European Championships.

Neil Franklin - Stoke City

Arguably one of the best centre-halves England has ever produced, Franklin had played in every one of the side’s 27 internationals from World War II up to the 1950 World Cup. A dispute with Stoke City and a heavily pregnant wife, however, saw him sensationally turn down an invitation to play for his country in Brazil, and he would later sign a lucrative contract in the upcoming Colombian league.

The move turned out to be ill-fated, however, and Franklin returned to England the following year to face the wrath of the FA, his national team career over.

Tommy Lawton - Chelsea / Notts County

Had it not been for World War II interrupting his international career, Lawton would arguably be England’s current all-time leading goalscorer.

An old-fashioned number nine who was surprisingly quick on the ball, Lawton scored 22 goals in 23 official appearances for the national team between 1938 and 1948, before shocking the football world with a record £20,000 move from Chelsea to Third Division Notts County.

With the side's first World Cup not coming until 1950, it was a career which could have been so much more but for timing.

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