Breaking down Roy's World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City)
I don’t feel like there is too much discussion here, the three goalkeepers were probably the easiest picks Roy Hodgson had to make. Joe Hart will obviously be the starting ‘keeper barring any injury, and both Forster and Foster have had very good seasons.
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Luke Shaw’s inclusion is very pleasing, and I’m happy with the defence England are taking. The starting back-four probably picks itself, and Chris Smalling is a quality replacement at centre-back in case of any injuries and suspensions. Phil Jones hasn’t had the best season, and it remains to be seen if he’ll be fit, but his versatility make him a good squad player for tournament football, and as he provide centre-back, right-back and potentially defensive-midfield cover too. As said, it’s great to see Luke Shaw going. He is one of England’s biggest prospects, and I agree with Hodgson’s decision to take Shaw over Cole. There is no point having Cole as a reserve left-back, he simply doesn’t have anything to learn and is not part of England’s future.
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
This is where I start to disagree with Roy Hodgson, specifically his decision to include Frank Lampard. This midfield really only has one player who plays deep for his club, and that is Gerrard. If Gerrard were to get injured or suspended, there is nobody in that list that is really disciplined enough, or has the specific skill-set, to play as a holding-midfielder. I’d much rather Gareth Barry was in the squad than Lampard, he’s had a great year at Everton and was a major part of what Martinez achieved with that team. More positively, it’s fantastic to see how many young players are going, in particular Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling. They both fully deserve to go, and will give England a bit of freshness and fearlessness that has been missing from most of our tournament squads over the years.
Attackers: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
The attackers, much like the goalkeepers, probably pick themselves. The only potential decision that Hodgson might have had to make was whether to bring Lambert or Carroll, but I can’t imagine he would have spent too long thinking about this. Lambert has performed exceptionally for both Southampton and England this season, and has much more to his game than Andy Carroll, who has struggled for goals for West Ham since coming back into the team.
Standby: John Ruddy (Norwich City), Jon Flanagan (Liverpool), John Stones (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Andy Carroll (West Ham United), Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC)
I suppose Jon Flanagan is above Kieran Gibbs in the standby list only for his ability to play on either flank, otherwise you would surely include Gibbs. Stones has a real chance of making the final 23 if Jones should fail to recover from injury, and it’s hard to argue against that given how impressive he has been for Everton. It’s slightly annoying to still see Tom Cleverley anywhere near an England shirt, but it’s only the standby list so I won’t criticise Hodgson too much for that.
Overall this is pretty much the exact squad I would have chosen. I’m a big fan of the youth-focus that has been evidently missing from previous England’s squad, and there are some very big prospects in there, especially Shaw, Sterling and Barkley. It should give us something new, and pace on the counter-attack might be our biggest threat as England are unlikely to dominate possession against either Italy or Uruguay. Lampard’s inclusion is slightly disappointing given that he hasn’t played very well for Chelsea this year, and really we probably need greater depth at defensive-midfield. That’s the only blemish on this squad in my opinion though, and whilst I don’t expect us to get out of the groups at least we should be fairly exciting, and if not then it’s positive that some of the youngsters have been given the taste of international tournament football.
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