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Road to Rio….Youngsters given chance to shine as Hodgson names England World Cup squad

Road to Rio….Youngsters given chance to shine as Hodgson names England World Cup squad

 

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

After months of speculating, players supposedly putting their hands up for selection and every football fan on Twitter turning in to a broadsheet journalist (myself included), England’s World Cup squad has finally been announced.

For all the permutations discussed in the build-up, the actual announcement proved slightly anticlimactic, much like the Premier League denouement. With injuries ruling out the likes of Theo Walcott, Kyle Walker and Jay Rodriguez, the final England squad virtually picked itself. There was to be no hint ‘bolter’ this time around but it’s fair to say Roy Hodgson has taken a leap of faith in selecting players who have impressed domestically, yet have little experience on the international stage.

The main talking point will be that of the selection of Luke Shaw and the subsequent retirement of Ashley Cole….a bold move from Hodgson and one that he admitted “was one of the toughest he has had to make.” As an England footballer, it is difficult to find fault with Cole. 107 caps, including three World Cups, only tell half the story of a man who has to go down as the country’s best ever in his position.

 

Image Courtesy of Kody Platter, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Kody Platter, flickr.com

What a shame that we seem to be inundated with high-class left-backs when the rest of the defence looks a touch shaky. While the backline was rarely tested in qualification, there were signs in the home friendlies against Chile and Germany (and even Scotland) that there are weaknesses to be exploited.

If the defence creates an air of negativity and gloom then the midfield provides the antidote. Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are three supremely talented and confident young men who can all expect game time out in Brazil. It is Adam Lallana, though, who I am most excited about. He is highly regarded by Hodgson and is a player who has gone from a wildcard to make the squad, to almost a guaranteed component in England’s opening game against Italy on June 11th. Given his form for Southampton and his three appearances for his country, he deserves nothing less.

 

In attack, the only real issue was whether Hodgson thought Andy Carroll had done enough since his comeback from injury to force his way into the England squad. Alas, Rickie Lambert has got the nod instead, with Carroll subjected to the standby list.

 

 

 

 

Image Courtesy of Kemal1998, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Kemal1998, flickr.com

Much attention will, of course, be paid to Wayne Rooney, who has another opportunity to show the world what he is truly capable of. A lack of match fitness and suspension has blighted his international tournament career ever since he burst on the world stage at Euro 2004. The news that he plans to take a physiotherapist on holiday with him will be well-received by just about every Englishman, as we look to him and the ever-maturing Daniel Sturridge to supply the necessary firepower for Roy’s boys.

 

 

 

 

 

Image Courtesy of Ryu Voelkel, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Ryu Voelkel, flickr.com

All in all, this is certainly an exciting England squad, one which suggests that Hodgson has one eye on the future. Yes, there is a lack of experience but also a lack of tournament heartbreak and fear which can bear fruit. If you look at the German side of 2010 (that 4-1 humbling still hurts), there were few household names, yet a plethora of talent which had progressed from the under-21 side together. Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Thomas Muller all left South Africa with reputations enhanced and better players for the experience. One hopes the shackles are taken off our youngsters and they are allowed to express themselves as they have done domestically all season. I’ll end this blog with the words that are sure to be bellowed from living rooms and pubs up and down the country this summer…COME ON ENGLAND!

 

 

 

Squad in full:
Goalkeepers:
Joe Hart
Fraser Forster,
Ben Foster
Defenders:
Leighton Baines
Gary Cahill
Phil Jagielka
Glen Johnson
Phil Jones
Luke Shaw
Chris Smalling
Midfielders:
Ross Barkley
Jordan Henderon
Steven Gerrard (Capt)
Adam Lallana
Frank Lampard
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Raheem Sterling
Jack Wilshere
Strikers:
Rickie Lambert
Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck

A nation’s hopes resting in Roy Hodgson’s hands?

 

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

On Tuesday night, ‘boo’s swept round Wembley for the second time in five days. Two defeats at home is hardly reason to be optimistic as we look towards next summer’s World Cup. When the shortcomings are this obvious – and with the World Cup draw just around the corner on December 6th – one thing is for sure; Roy Hodgson has plenty to consider with just one game remaining before he names his preliminary 30 man squad.

I suppose the only consolation is that, unlike in previous years, nobody actually expects us to win the World Cup this time around. And so at least we will be saved the embarrassment of a nation heaping unrealistic expectations on an England team ahead of a major international tournament.

Just over a month has passed since England secured their qualification with a win against Poland and the team’s performances in the last two games are certain to leave Roy Hodgson with a pounding headache.

When you’re playing teams like Chile and Germany, first and foremost you need to be competitive. And, in phases, you have to say that England were. That said, as is often the case in international football, the winning margin was decided by such a fine line.

The concern though – aside from both results – was the lack of ideas, imagination and creativity that England displayed in both games. Surprisingly their vulnerability at the back has also been exposed, which is strange, given that only Spain conceded fewer goals than England’s four during qualification.

In my opinion, too many players were used. Yes, Roy Hodgson wants to review players like Lallana, Henderson and Rodriquez on the international stage but with just one friendly game remaining against Denmark in March before Hodgson must name his initial squad, it’s clear that he still doesn’t yet know what his best starting eleven is. And that, to me, is worrying. I wonder if the same can be said for the likes of Spain, Germany or Brazil.

Will Joe Hart be England number one? Does Roy Hodgson go with Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole at left back? Who partners Phil Jagielka at centre-half?

Phil Jones struggled against Chile and the same can be said of Gary Cahill. Meanwhile, on Tuesday night Chris Smalling didn’t perform at his best.

Who plays at right back; Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker? For me, Kyle Walker is fantastic going forward but he leaves the side exposed at the back. Before a major international tournament, it is crucial that a manager settles on a back four. Roy needs to make this decision and whoever he picks needs to play together to develop an understanding in advance.

To me, though, it is clear that England’s defence at the moment is missing a big name like John Terry or Rio Ferdinand; someone who is going to be the leader we need and will bring experience. But would a call from Roy Hodgson change either of their minds about coming out of retirement?

 

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Put simply, there are too many questions and not enough answers.

In the Germany game, England did not even manage a shot on target; the first time that has happened at home since the Scotland game in 1999. In the absence of shooting accuracy, a solid defence becomes even more crucial.

In midfield, England were certainly left exposed against Germany. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze played well and showed their class. And with players like Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger not even on the pitch, Germany has creative midfield match winners in abundance. Alexis Sanchez offered a similar threat in the Chile game.

England, on the other hand, benefits from the pace of Andros Townsend, who did play considerably well in the game last night. And when Theo Walcott is fit he can strike fear into any defender….but question marks remain in place around the quality of the final ball. Yes, we can call upon the experience of Captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but both players lack that added creativity and explosiveness that we became accustomed to seeing earlier in their careers. That creative spark over time, could, I believe, come from someone like Jack Wilshere but a lot will depend on whether he can stay fit.

Wayne Rooney, on a good day, remains one of the world’s best players. He is by far one of England’s most important players. With Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck injured, Jermain Defoe benched and Rickie Lambert relatively inexperienced, the question of who partners Rooney up front remains unanswered.

 

Given his form so far this season Daniel Sturridge is in the best position to wear the number 9 shirt in Brazil. But for me, he needs to offer more in an England shirt and he lacks consistency. Playing alongside Suarez week in week out should certainly help here!

I think that, as a nation, we realise that we are no longer part of the world’s elite and that, more realistically, we find ourselves part of a group of second-tier teams that, with a favourable draw, could make the quarter-finals at best. So do we accept that we are not going to win the World Cup (in all honestly many of us already have!) and opt to give younger players vital tournament experience, building for the future?

One thing that Roy Hodgson has learned in the last two games is that the task facing in him Brazil is going to be incredibly tough. Unlike in previous tournaments though, when England were expected to win, this England side is a work in progress and the expectation of the nation remains grounded; all be it firmly in Roy Hodgson’s hands.

Who knows what will happen in Brazil, but all eyes will now be on the draw on December 6th. Let’s hope for a group of hope rather than the dreaded group of death.

Put yourself in the shoes of Roy Hodgson now and pick your England team for the World Cup. Here’s mine:

Joe Hart
Fraser Forster
Ben Foster

Ashley Cole
Leighton Baines
Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson
Gary Cahill
Phil Jagielka
Phil Jones
Chris Smalling

Theo Walcott
Andros Townsend
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
James Milner
Steven Gerrard
Frank Lampard
Jack Wilshere
Michael Carrick

Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck
Jermain Defoe

A nation's hopes resting in Roy Hodgson's hands?

 

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

On Tuesday night, ‘boo’s swept round Wembley for the second time in five days. Two defeats at home is hardly reason to be optimistic as we look towards next summer’s World Cup. When the shortcomings are this obvious – and with the World Cup draw just round the corner on December 6th – one thing is for sure; Roy Hodgson has plenty to consider with just one game remaining before he names his preliminary 30 man squad.

I suppose the only consolation is that, unlike in previous years, nobody actually expects us to win the World Cup this time around. And so at least we will be saved the embarrassment of a nation heaping unrealistic expectations on an England team ahead of a major international tournament.

Just over a month has passed since England secured their qualification with a win against Poland and the team’s performances in the last two games are certain to leave Roy Hodgson with a pounding headache.

When you’re playing teams like Chile and Germany, first and foremost you need to be competitive. And, in phases, you have to say that England were. That said, as is often the case in international football, the winning margin was decided by such a fine line.

The concern though – aside from both results – was the lack of ideas, imagination and creativity that England displayed in both games. Surprisingly their vulnerability at the back has also been exposed, which is strange, given that only Spain conceded fewer goals than England’s four during qualification.

In my opinion too many players were used. Yes, Roy Hodgson wants to review players like Lallana, Henderson and Rodriquez on the international stage but with just one friendly game remaining against Denmark in March before Hodgson must name his initial squad, it’s clear that he still doesn’t yet know what his best starting eleven is. And that, to me, is worrying. I wonder if the same can be said for the likes of Spain, Germany or Brazil.

Will Joe Hart be England number one? Does Roy Hodgson go with Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole at left back? Who partners Phil Jagielka at centre half?

Phil Jones struggled against Chile and the same can be said of Gary Cahill. Meanwhile on Tuesday night Chris Smalling didn’t perform at his best.

Who plays at right back; Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker? For me Kyle Walker is fantastic going forward but he leaves the side exposed at the back. Before a major international tournament it is crucial that a manager settles on a back four. Roy needs to make this decision and whoever he picks needs to play together to develop an understanding in advance.

To me, though, it is clear that England’s defence at the moment is missing a big name like John Terry or Rio Ferdinand; someone who is going to be the leader we need and will bring experience. But would a call from Roy Hodgson change either of their minds about coming out of retirement?

 

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Put simply, there are too many questions and not enough answers.

In the Germany game, England did not even manage a shot on target; the first time that has happened at home since the Scotland game in 1999. In the absence of shooting accuracy, a solid defence becomes even more crucial.

In midfield England were certainly left exposed against Germany. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze played well and showed their class. And with players like Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger not even on the pitch, Germany has creative midfield match winners in abundance. Alexis Sanchez offered a similar threat in the Chile game.

England, on the other hand, benefit from the pace of Andros Townsend, who did play considerably well in the game last night. And when Theo Walcott is fit he can strike fear into any defender….but question marks remain in place around the quality of the final ball. Yes, we can call upon the experience of Captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but both player lack that added creativity and explosiveness that we became accustomed to seeing earlier in their careers. That creative spark over time, could, I believe, come from someone like Jack Wilshere but a lot will depend on whether he can stay fit.

Wayne Rooney, on a good day, remains one of the world’s best players. He is by far one of England’s most important players. With Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck injured, Jemain Defoe benched and Rickie Lambert relatively inexperienced, the question of who partners Rooney up front remains unanswered.

 

Given his form so far this season Daniel Sturridge is in the best position to wear the number 9 shirt in Brazil. But for me, he needs to offer more in an England shirt and he lacks consistency. Playing alongside Suarez week in week out should certainly help here!

I think that, as a nation, we realise that we are no longer part of the world’s elite and that, more realistically, we find ourselves part of a group of second tier teams that, with a favourable draw, could make the quarter finals at best. So do we accept that we are not going to win the World Cup (in all honestly many of us already have!) and opt to give younger players vital tournament experience, building for the future?

One thing that Roy Hodgson has learned in the last two games is that the task facing in him Brazil is going to be incredibly tough. Unlike in previous tournaments though, when England were expected to win, this England side is a work in progress and the expectation of the nation remains grounded; all be it firmly in Roy Hodgson’s hands.

Who knows what will happen in Brazil, but all eyes will now be on the draw on December 6th. Let’s hope for a group of hope rather than the dreaded group of death.

Put yourself in the shoes of Roy Hodgson now and pick your England team for the World Cup. Here’s mine:

Joe Hart
Fraser Forster
Ben Foster

Ashley Cole
Leighton Baines
Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson
Gary Cahill
Phil Jagielka
Phil Jones
Chris Smalling

Theo Walcott
Andros Townsend
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
James Milner
Steven Gerrard
Frank Lampard
Jack Wilshere
Michael Carrick

Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck
Jermain Defoe