Preparations for the mid-season Test and Autumn International Tests against New Zealand have already begun as England head coach Wayne Bennett names his 21-man strong Elite Performance Squad. The squad will meet up regularly throughout the season. Wakefield winger Tom Johnstone earns his first call-up to the squad following a superb start to the season, whilst Warrington hooker Daryl Clark, Leeds second-rower Stevie Ward and St Helens winger Tommy Makinson return to the squad after missing out on the 2017 World Cup. But, despite these call-ups being well-deserved, there are still some notable players missing from the squad.

Jamie Shaul

With Zak Hardaker likely facing a two-year ban from the sport, the England full-back situation is still far from sorted. Both Jonny Lomax and Stefan Ratchford took the No.1 shirt for spells at the World Cup, but neither seemed comfortable. Granted, Gareth Widdop appeared calm and composed when he was given the nod ahead of the duo, but Jamie Shaul should be Widdop's backup at least.

Shaul is an x-factor type player, he gives Hull FC that creative spark from the back and plays such a key role in their attacking structure and organisation. Whilst his ability under the high ball has sometimes been criticised - particularly in recent weeks - Shaul's defensive game is up there with the best in his position.

He is an intelligent thinker with superb positional awareness and though he hasn't had the best of starts to the season, he is still one of Hull FC's most consistent players.

Paul McShane

The Castleford hooker deserved a call-up for the World Cup after a stellar season with the Tigers, but was overlooked in favour of James Roby and Josh Hodgson.

This was perhaps fair as Roby rolled back the years for Saints in 2017 and Hodgson played a vital role for NRL side Canberra. But, with Hodgson injured for the season and thus out of the mid-season Test, McShane surely must have been thinking his time for an England call-up had come. Instead, Warrington star Daryl Clark has got the nod in front of him.

Though Clark is a brilliant talent and can produce something spectacular out of nothing, his career at Warrington has so far not panned out how most thought it would after his move from Castleford in 2015. And, whilst he has started the 2018 season in good form - he has arguably been one of the Wolves' best players - McShane has been at the top of his game for the past two years and surely deserves a shot at international level. For Castleford, he is the lynchpin that gets the Tigers on the attack; he is crucial in feeding his half-backs with quick and accurate ball whilst he is not afraid to mix it with the big boys in defence.

Marc Sneyd

Marc Sneyd must be looking at the 21-man EPS in disbelief; Kevin Brown still makes the cut despite not having the best of starts in 2018 whilst Luke Gale and George Williams - both of whom had less-than impressive World Cups - occupy two other places.

Surely, if Bennett is going to include three half-backs in his squad, one of them just has to be Sneyd. A goal-kicking, organisational half-back, the red-haired left-footer has every attribute to make it in the international game.

Sneyd is calm under pressure, and the tag that he goes missing in big matches is a complete and utter lie; the former Salford and Castleford man has won the Lance Todd Trophy - awarded to the Man of the Match in the Challenge Cup Final - twice in consecutive years and has been pivotal to the Airlie Birds' top four finishes in the past two seasons as well. For England, he would offer something different to what the national side already has. At least, he deserves a chance.

Sam Tomkins

If Jamie Shaul isn't going to be included in the squad, then surely Sam Tomkins should be instead. Loved by Wigan fans and loathed by the rest of Rugby League, Tomkins has hit good form in Wigan's great start to the season whether operating at full-back or half-back. At Wigan, Tomkins has interchanged seamlessly with Morgan Escare at No.1 and with Sam Powell at No.7 and his versatility could offer something different to an England side that seemed to lack a cutting edge at the World Cup last year.

A talented, experienced player, Tomkins gets under the skin of opponents and regularly gets his Wigan side on the front foot with either darting runs or his earning of penalties. It is this petulant side to his game though that might have turned Bennett away.

Perhaps, Bennett could also be looking to the future; by the time the next World Cup comes round in 2022, Tomkins will be 32.

Greg Eden

Greg Eden was one of the main beneficiaries of Castleford's superb season in 2017, registering a remarkable 38 tries - some of which were given to him on a plate by those inside him. Yet, 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.

Though Ryan Hall and Jermaine McGillvary had fantastic World Cups, there was still room in the squad for another winger. Even centre Mark Percival and utility back Stefan Ratchford appeared on the flank for a time during the group stages of the tournament.

Surely, having a recognised winger there instead would have been better.

Now, Bennett has chosen Saints winger Tommy Makinson and Wakefield flier Tom Johnstone ahead of Eden. Makinson is a brilliant winger, but, he came nowhere near Eden's form in 2017 though Johnstone's form - four tries in three games - warrants his inclusion. Eden is injured at the minute, but will be fit within the next month and will slot straight back into the Tigers' side. But, if Eden still wasn't chosen for the World Cup after the season he had in 2017, it would take something very special from him in 2018 to edge his way into Bennett's thinking.