CRISTIANO RONALDO is on the bench again – after missing out on a six-a-side team of World Cup golden oldies.
The unsettled Manchester United legend, 37, will only be the ninth oldest player at Qatar this winter – TWO YEARS short of the top six.
Two goalkeepers are in the leading five for age, spearheaded by Mexican Alfredo Talavera, 40.
Five 39-year-olds will be there, including defensive icons Pepe and Dani Alves, plus Canada midfielder Atiba Hutchinson.
Pepe’s Portugal team-mate Ronaldo is the only frontman in the top 10.
And another modern-day great just squeezes into the list – Chelsea centre-back Thiago Silva.
England’s opening opponents Iran have the oldest squad, with eight players over 30 taking their average age up to 28.8 years.
Next come Mexico, while Brazil and Argentina share third place on 27.9.
Lionel Messi, 35, is a year younger than his oldest Argentinian colleague, keeper Franco Armani.
And as for their South American neighbours, Alves and Silva are joined by seven other 30-plus stars in Brazil’s 26-man party.
TOP 10 OLDEST STARS AT QATAR
HERE’S the lowdown on the most senior players in Qatar. But some have little experience at this level, especially Canadian midfielder and skipper Atiba Hutchinson.
1 Alfredo Talavera (GK), 40 – Mexico
2 Atiba Hutchinson, 39 – Canada
3 Pepe, 39 – Portugal
4 Eiji Kawashima (GK), 39 – Japan
5 Dani Alves, 39 – Brazil
6 Remko Pasveer (GK), 39 – Holland
7 Aymen Mathlouthi (GK), 38 – Tunisia
8 Thiago Silva, 38 – Brazil
9 Cristiano Ronaldo, 37 – Portugal
10 Danny Vukovic (GK), 37 – Australia
In fact, the Brazilians might well have had the oldest squad of all were it not for two of the most exciting young wingers in Europe.
Real Madrid’s Rodrygo and Arsenal’s table-topping trickster Gabriel Martinelli, both 21, have made Tite’s squad thanks to their finest season so far.
In contrast, Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions hope to come of age with World Cup glory as one of the youngest squads – averaging just26 years and 153 days.
That’s almost two decades younger than the oldest players ever to play at a World Cup finals.
That honour fell to Egypt keeper Essam El Hadery, who was outstanding aged 45 years and 10 days old in a 2018 group match against Saudi Arabia, despite conceding a 95th minute winner.