With England’s World Cup finals campaign speedily approaching, we thought we’d have a go at picking our 23 man squad for the trip to Brazil.
Joe Hart – Undoubtedly England’s No. 1
The problem of England’s first choice goalkeeper being kept out of his club side by a very thankfully appears to have passed and his 39 caps have brought 20 clean sheets and he has played in all but three of Hodgson’s 25 games in charge.
We were surprised at the time about how many experts were overlooking the injured Ben Foster when discussing possible back-ups to Joe Hart, as frankly he’s the only other English goalkeeper we’d have any confidence in.
The third choice goalkeeper never plays, so you might as well take along a young chap who may stand a chance of one day being England’s first choice than someone who, in Ruddy’s case, has had a pretty average season, and Forster, who is in our opinion, an average goalkeeper in a side that’s dominant domestically.
It seems the English back four nearly picks itself, with fortunately the claims of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand a thing of the past. Ashley Cole may we’ll be out of the Chelsea side, but he’s still probably the best England left back in terms of defending, however it’s becoming a closer decision with Leighton Baines.
At centre-half, Jagielka and Cahill have established themselves as Hodgson’s preferred partnership.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are able to do a job at right back which enables us to exclude Kyle Walker as back up to Glen Johnson.
This section was ultimately the trickiest to decide on. The first two England Football names pretty much pick themselves. Michael Carrick has proved that he can play a steady holding role, as long as the opposition don’t put too much pressure on. However with Gerrard playing a deeper role for Liverpool, could it put Carrick’s place in question with other younger players such as Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson pushing their cases.
Frank Lampard gets in for experience alone, and though James Milner is the player everyone loves to hate, his versatility and ability to “do a job” make him a certainty. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lallana both offer pace and creativity as well as being able to do both from central or wider positions.
Townsend’s rapid rise to help England qualify for Brazil endeared him to the fans, and whenever he collects possession there is a hum of excitement around Wembley.
Whether he’s worth his £300k per week deal is questionable, however Wayne Rooney, particularly if on form, is vital for England’s hopes of doing anything in Brazil.
Daniel Sturridge’s form has been excellent all season so he must go to the competition as England’s first choice with Rooney dropping in behind.
Welbeck offers options wide, and Andy Carroll, if fit offers a direct option particularly if chasing the game. Raheem Sterling is the wide player in form, although there will no doubt be questioning from the media if Andros Townsend doesn’t go to Brazil, and Adam Johnson has also put in a claim for inclusion with his recent form.