Although most of Wayne Bennett's 24-man squad performed admirably at the recent World Cup, there were still admissions - five listed here - that would have made a notable difference to the England side and whom may well have proved the difference between losing against Australia in the final and winning. These five players were also seriously unlucky not to be called up to the England squad in the first place after having stellar seasons in 2017, but, if they take this year's form into 2018, when the squad announcement is made for the October/November Tests against New Zealand in 2018, they will surely be included.

1. Michael Shenton

As captain of Castleford Tigers, he led the West Yorkshire club to a top-placed finish for the first time in their 91-year history and a maiden Grand Final appearance. There was, therefore, widespread surprise when England head coach Wayne Bennett omitted Shenton from the World Cup squad. And, the decision proved further baffling when the centre that most felt would take Shenton's place - Mark Percival - spent more time on the sideline than in the team as Bennett persevered with natural second-rower John Bateman in the No.4 spot for the majority of the tournament.

Shenton's form in 2017 was crucial to Castleford's attacking flair which left neutrals and commentators in awe, registering 19 try assists – 11 more than Kallum Watkins and six more than Mark Percival.

The centre's link-up play with scrum-half Luke Gale, the now-disgraced full-back Zak Hardaker and try-scoring machine Greg Eden was seamless and often had devastating results against opponents that could not simply live with the Tigers' left-sided attack. His defensive partnership with winger Eden also proved key in shutting out rival teams.

No stranger to the England setup - having made nine appearances over the course of seven years - Shenton has the quality and maturity to fit back in with ease. Aged 31 however, there is not much time left for the Castleford man to force his way back into the reckoning. His 2017 form, therefore, has to continue into 2018 if Shenton is going to be seen in an England shirt in the near future.

2. Jamie Shaul

Full-back Jamie Shaul had yet another impressive season in 2017, scoring 17 tries for Hull FC, many of them brilliant, individual efforts. With a dazzling running ability that can outstretch and confuse any opponent, Shaul made his mark on Super League last year, ending the season in eighth for the number of metres made with a stunning average gain of 9.52 metres.

Surely, after one consistent year after another, and with Zak Hardaker omitted from England's World Cup squad due to failing a drugs test and with no place for Sam Tomkins either, Shaul had to be in Wayne Bennett's 24-man squad. The decision to leave Shaul out altogether appears, even more, puzzling now the tournament has ended; England struggled at the back with neither Jonny Lomax nor Stefan Ratchford looking comfortable on the international stage.

And, although Gareth Widdop impressed at No.1, his qualities are perhaps more suited to the half-back position.

Some naysayers criticise Shaul's defensive capabilities but his positioning has improved drastically from when he first burst onto the scene and his confidence under the high ball is second to none in the league. Shaul brings something extra, he is an "x-factor" type player who can make something brilliant out of nothing. And, after being one of FC's standouts yet again in 2017, if Shaul maintains his form for 2018, he should get the nod ahead of Lomax, Ratchford and Tomkins for that heavily contested full-back spot.

3. Greg Eden

Greg Eden's 2017 season was his first year back in Super League with Castleford Tigers after a foray in the NRL with Brisbane Broncos.

Signed originally as a full-back to replace the outgoing Luke Dorn, Eden moved to the wing as the Tigers brought in Zak Hardaker on a season-long loan from rivals Leeds Rhinos. It proved to be a match made in heaven; Eden registered a remarkable 38 tries and despite him getting great service from those inside him, many of his efforts were scored by his own astounding skill. With real pace to burn and significant improvements made defensively - though he is still prone to errors under the high ball - Eden, in 2017, was a shadow of his former timid self.

It was, therefore, a surprise - yet again - that Wayne Bennett chose to take only two wingers with him to the World Cup: Ryan Hall and Jermaine McGillvary.

Although both performed admirably - particularly McGillvary whose performances resulted in him being shortlisted for the Golden Boot as well as being the subject of rumours linking him to the NRL - it was rather unjust not to take Eden after the year he had just had, especially as Hall and McGillvary registered just ten and 19 tries respectively for Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants.

Although Hall and McGillvary will be the two starting wingers for England for the next few years at least, if Eden replicates his try-scoring exploits and performances in 2017, there should be no reason why he does not make the England squad for the 2018 Tests, even if not the 17 itself.

4. Marc Sneyd

Ever since his move to Humberside at the end of the 2014 season, Sneyd has become one of Hull FC's most consistent players.

When Sneyd is on song, so are Hull FC. England's kicking game in the World Cup often left fans frustrated; with Oldham-born Sneyd in the side - whose place and goal kicking was amongst the best in Super League in 2017 - England would easily be more controlled and have a more effective game management.

Some pundits and fans argue that Sneyd goes missing in big matches; but is this really true? Sneyd - with the exception of the 2014 Challenge Cup Final when he was substituted early in the first half for his then club Castleford Tigers - has played a major role in some of Hull FC's biggest games over the years. He has won the Lance Todd Trophy – awarded to the Man of the Match in the Challenge Cup Final – twice in consecutive years and has propelled FC to two Challenge Cup victories and two 3rd placed finishes in 2016 and 2017.

5. Liam Watts

Yet another Hull FC player, but yet another Airlie Bird that deserved to earn a first call-up to the England squad after a brilliant season. A formidable character with plenty of aggression – indeed it was perhaps the three red cards and suspensions that Watts received in 2017 which perhaps convinced head coach Wayne Bennett to look elsewhere – Watts would be a constant menace against England's rivals.

Watts is one of those forwards that gets under the opposition's skin, can commit multiple defenders and offload the ball in tight situations. But, his defensive game is also up there with the best in Super League; he is a hard-hitting, ferocious tackler that never takes a backwards step. England is crying out for a forward in the mould of Watts, and, if he hits the heights in 2018 that he set for himself in 2017, surely he will not be ignored once more.