England played their last friendly yesterday before Roy Hodgson has to make a decision on which players will make up his 23 man squad for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. The England boss used the friendly last night to get a look at some of the players he may have been undecided on before he has to make a final decision on May 13th. Here is who I would be taking on the plane to Brazil.
Joe Hart will be England’s number one at the world cup provided anything drastic happens like an injury; the question is which other shot stoppers will make it. It surprises me that Joe Hart played the whole 90 minutes last night as I thought it was an ideal opportunity to take a look at who would be his understudies. The most likely candidates are John Ruddy, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster with two of these being picked for the squad. My second choice would be Fraser Forster who at the moment in incredible form for Celtic breaking numerous clean sheet records in recent weeks. Some say as he is playing in Scotland this doesn’t count for much but he has shown his talent in high profile matches against teams like Barcelona. For me it is then 50/50 between Ruddy and Foster but I think Ruddy might just sneak it.
On the plane: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, John Ruddy
Missing out: Ben Foster
The defenders in the squad almost pick themselves with the only dilemma being who will play in the left back spot. Over the years England have struggled with picking players as back up to Ashley Cole but this year it is doubtful whether he will be on the plane or not with Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw fighting for his place. Baines is a definite to go, maybe even start, and I would probably stick with Cole over Shaw. He showed last night that he can still cut the mustard in an England shirt and I think even though it is clear that Luke Shaw has talent a world cup is a step too far too soon for the young lad. At centre back the first choice pairing will be Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka who were both first choice during the qualifying campaign. The two back ups will then be Chris Smalling and Phil Jones. Personally I would have liked to see Michael Dawson of Tottenham and Ryan Shawcross of Stoke be given a chance to impress but as they weren’t called up to the squad for the friendly they will not be in contention. Then at right back it is probably certain the two going to Brazil will be Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker.
On the plane: Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Glen Johnson, Kyle Walker
Missing out: Luke Shaw, Jolean Lescott, Kieron Gibbs
The midfield is probably the most up in air of all the positions over who will go to Brazil with there being lots of contenders for the spots that are up for grabs. Hodgson seems to be favouring a version of the 4-3-3 system so I think he will take 5 central midfielders and only 3 natural wide players with him seeming to like playing somebody in the shape of a Danny Welbeck off the left of a front three. Steven Gerrard is a definite to go and start at the world cup. Although he is at the end of his career I would like to see him play the Pirlo role for us, just sitting in the centre circle, distributing possession and launching attacks. I also think Jack Wilshere is a definite as long as he stays fit after being ruled out for six weeks with a hairline fracture of the foot. I would like to see Jordan Henderson on the plane following his fine form for Liverpool recently and his relationship with Gerrard could be important. Adam Lallana has emerged into contention over the past six months and after his displays for England so far I would definitely take him and maybe even starting him as the most attacking midfielder out of the three central players. That just leaves one position up for grabs with Michael Carrick, James Milner and Ross Barkley left to choose from, with Hodgson saying at least one big name player will miss out I have a feeling it will be Frank Lampard. As much as I would like to see Barkley go to the tournament in the summer I believe the fact he didn’t feature last night means he isn’t in Roy’s plans for the time being. It then goes down to the wire between Carrick and Milner. Carrick would be my choice as he is playing more regularly and is the more defensive out of the two. However, I do think England miss a tough tackling defensive midfielder.
As for the wide positions, Theo Walcott would have been a certainty if he had been fit and although he isn’t playing regularly for Tottenham Andros Townsend will go after his scintillating displays in and England shirt at the end of 2013. The fact they both featured last night means I think the other two spots in this position will go to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling with the latter being in top form for Liverpool over the past few months.
On the plane: Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Michael Carrick, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling
Missing out: Frank Lampard, Tom Cleverley, Ross Barkley, James Milner
With four spots left in the squad it is almost definite that three of those will belong to Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck. That means Jermaine Defoe, Ricky Lambert, James Rodriguez and Andy Carroll will be fighting for that one remaining place on the plane. With Jermaine Defoe moving to Canada I think that drops him down the pecking order a fair bit with the quality of football he will be playing. Again, due to the fact he didn’t play last night James Rodriguez probably won’t make it. That leaves it down to Ricky Lambert and Andy Carroll. Whilst most people would probably opt for fans favourite Lambert, my choice would be Andy Carroll, provided he is fit and has played more games for West Ham, simply because he is more mobile and offers something different that causes problems for defenders.
On the plane: Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll
Missing out: Jermaine Defoe, Ricky Lambert, James Rodriguez