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England’s Flight Plan to Rio



With only a short time left in the league campaign, aspiring England players have very little time left to impress Roy Hodgson and put forward their case for a spot on the plane to Brazil. I’ll discuss who I think should be with the national team as they touch down in Rio; injury permitting.

  • Goalkeepers:

Joe Hart: His place on the plane has never been in doubt all season, but his starting berth was placed under threat when a series of questionable performances for Manchester City caused him to be dropped for Costel Pantilimon for a few matches. Roy Hodgson however never wavered in his assertions that Hart was his number one, and the goalkeeper went on to regain his first team spot for Man City, and has not looked back since.

Ben Foster: He has picked up a few International caps to date in friendly matches and is a reliable ‘keeper, but won’t go to Brazil as anything more than a back-up to Joe Hart.

Fraser Forster: With the third choice keeper highly unlikely to see any action, it is a prime opportunity to take a youngster purely to gain big tournament experience. He may have to move to the Premier League to stand a chance of displacing Hart in the future, but a trip to Brazil may do him the world of good.

  • Defenders:

Glen Johnson: Liverpool’s first choice right-back has not had his best season, with much of the winter period blighted by an ankle injury. He began solidly enough but played through pain for many weeks, and his form suffered greatly for it. After returning to action, he has hit a degree of form again but still not peaked to his past best. Yet, he is still the most reliable English right-back and is highly favoured by Roy Hodgson, so should start.

Kyle Walker: The obvious choice to fill the reserve right-back slot, as he has a fair few international caps to his name. The Tottenham man still relies too much on his extreme pace to get him out of self-induced trouble in my opinion to be relied upon in a major tournament.

Gary Cahill: Cahill has become a defensive stalwart for Chelsea this year, as he is now acknowledged as an important half in his partnership with John Terry. If Terry’s international career was still alive, then this would quite probably be the perfect pair for England. As it is however, Cahill has shown enough to instil faith in the fans that he is now exceptionally reliable and brave.

Phil Jagielka: Despite his recent injury problems, Jagielka has had an extremely good season. A vocal participant in Everton’s water-tight back four, he has been the man to partner Cahill in England games since Euro 2012 and, assuming a satisfactory resolution to his current ailment, should do that job in Brazil too.

Phil Jones: Jones has not progressed quite as well as was expected following his big-money move from Blackburn Rovers to Manchester United a couple of years ago. We cannot be sure if this is the fault of the player, or as a result of being played in several different positions. This latter observation does of course have its advantages, and his ability to be employed as a utility man should cement his place in the squad.

Chris Smalling: Jones’ fellow defender at Manchester United, Chris Smalling is in a similar position to his team mate. He is swapped between full-back and centre-half from week to week and this may have hampered his development in a specific position. Being able to efficiently slot in across the back four should get him a place on the plane.

Leighton Baines: While his form has not been quite as blistering this season as last, he has remained a vital part of Everton’s team in an attacking and defensive sense. His delivery from a set piece is generally spot on and Roy Hodgson has shown faith in him for the last few internationals, leaving no doubt that he is first choice.

Luke Shaw: The Southampton left-back was recently named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, beating off competition from Baines himself. This achievement should not be underestimated for a player who is still only a teenager. He has already been involved in England squads in anticipation of a World Cup berth and I believe a place in the final 23 would be hugely beneficial for both the player and the team.

  • Midfielders:

Steven Gerrard: As captain, his place on the plane to Rio is of course already secure as is his position in the starting XI. He has been peerless for Liverpool all year and despite the derision that met his slip against Chelsea, Brendan Rodgers correctly said that they “would not be in the position they are without him”. In his new role in front of the back four, he has been able to dictate the play and control the speed of the game. This could prove to be of vital importance in the sweltering heat of Brazil.

Jack Wilshere: Another season for the Arsenal midfielder has been wrought with injury problems, all seeming to stem from a troublesome ankle. Wenger however has dispelled doubts of his fitness by declaring that he will be available in time for the World Cup. He provides an extra dimension in the middle of the park due to the way he can take the ball in tight areas, spin, beat a man, and set up an attack. When fully fit, he changes the way a side can play and England need as many of this sort of player in their ranks as possible.

Jordan Henderson: The former Sunderland man is one of Liverpool’s most improved players this year, transforming himself from an occasional substitute to a mainstay of the team. He possesses a tank that never seems to run dry and so has been a very successful foil for Steven Gerrard all campaign. Henderson is no longer only a pair of legs however, as he has added quality to his game in the final third, making him a serious contender to start in Brazil.

Michael Carrick: This is perhaps the position I had the most trouble over. While I don’t rate Carrick as highly as some, he has picked up a great deal of caps and has plenty of big game experience from his time at Manchester United. He just about gets in the squad ahead of Frank Lampard because of his defensive discipline, and ahead of Ross Barkley because there are more players who can fit into the attacking midfield role.

Adam Lallana: As the Southampton fans sing; “He plays on the left, he plays on the right. Adam Lallana, he makes Messi look…” fairly average, you can guess how highly they rate him. I share this faith in his ability having seen him a couple of times first hand. His close control blew me away, and he is one of only a few naturally two-footed players it seems. One factor which is commonly missed is his acceleration over the first 10 yards as well. Not having been overawed by his previous England experiences, Hodgson cannot fail to have been impressed by the 25 year old.

Raheem Sterling: The Jamaican born winger is the third component in Liverpool’s potent attacking trio and he has really come to the fore since Christmas. He has always had pace and skill, but his end product has been questioned. This season’s goal output, assists, and chance creation have put pay to that belief. He is so confident at the moment that you just feel whenever he is on the ball, something is about to happen. He may only be 19 years of age, but boy is he maturing quickly into a vital component of the team. His form towards the end of the season in helping Liverpool’s title challenge has pushed him towards even a starting berth.

James Milner: ‘Mr Reliable’ and ‘will do a job for you’ are just two of the clichés associated with James Milner. While these may be true, he does deliver a fantastic cross and can make some surging runs into the box given the opportunity. I can see Hodgson calling upon him again for sure against either Italy or Uruguay in the group stage to counteract the opponent’s offensive capability, but what he provides in the attacking third shouldn’t be ignored.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: He has been nothing less than impressive after returning from injury and has often added extra impetus to a weak Arsenal attack. Wenger has begun to deploy him more frequently in a central midfield role in addition to on the flanks, and Chamberlain has taken to this like a duck to water. This versatility is reason in itself to be in the squad, but Hodgson needs players with his drive and pace to improve the side’s tempo in humid conditions.

  • Forwards:

Wayne Rooney: You can debate forever over whether Wayne Rooney has fulfilled his potential set out to everyone as a 16 year old. But it cannot be argued that on his day, he is perhaps the nation’s most complete footballer. He has all the talents to play right across the front line and more recently in midfield for his club. The Manchester United talisman is closing in on Bobby Charlton’s all-time England goal record, and in order for them to make real progress in Brazil, you have to feel that Rooney would need to play a huge part in that.

Daniel Sturridge: Another real plus point for Liverpool this season has been the form of Daniel Sturridge. Despite tailing off slightly in the last couple of weeks, he has been truly for large portions of the campaign and has won several games on his own when Suarez was absent from the ranks. Sturridge has the pace to stretch any back-line in world football, and if he combines this with the quick-witted and skilful play we have seen all year, then he can be the thorn in the side of many an international defender.

Danny Welbeck: A real favourite of Roy Hodgson’s, Danny Welbeck gives his side extra legs up front or on the flanks. First team opportunities have been somewhat limited for him again this year, prompting rumours that he is looking for an exit from Old Trafford. With a serious lack of options in the striking department for England, he is almost guaranteed a seat on the plane.

Rickie Lambert: In what may be a straight fight between Lambert and Jermain Defoe, I believe that the Southampton forward has the edge. He adds something different and gives a new problem for the opposition to handle. He has also performed well for England in his somewhat limited opportunities so far and to go along with his Premier League scoring record, should provide a decent option off the bench.


  • Standby List (7 allowed)

A further seven players are selected to form a standby list, and these can be drawn upon if injuries occur in the build up to the tournament itself.

John Ruddy: Ruddy is in a similar position to Foster, and so I believe only one of them should go. As England fans, we have to hope that neither of the reserve goalkeepers are required in the tournament, making it unlikely that we will find out who Roy Hodgson sees as his second choice.

Ashley Cole: It was a very tough decision between Luke Shaw and Ashley Cole for the second left-back slot and as such, I feel it is only right to have Chelsea’s veteran defender as a standby. He would fill in more than capably should injury occur and certainly would not let anyone down. Recently playing 3 massive games in 8 days for Chelsea has gone some way to proving his fitness too.

Curtis Davies: He has been an absolute rock for Hull City all year long, and has been one of the most reliable defenders in the league. Playing for an unfashionable club has meant that he has not received sufficient recognition for his achievements. The only thing standing in his way is his lack of any prior experience at international level, and that is why I believe Roy Hodgson will plump for Steven Caulker of Cardiff as a standby instead.

Adam Johnson: Prior to being ruled out for 10 weeks after ankle surgery, Andros Townsend would have taken this space for me. However, the form shown by Adam Johnson since his reintroduction into the Sunderland team has been instrumental in their push for safety. He is a key reason why it looks like they may well beat the drop with his trickery and ability to take on a man being difficult to stop. With nothing to lose, he could be a surprise package if he had to come in as a replacement.

Frank Lampard: Massively experienced in all levels of the game, his form has slightly dropped off this season, as has to be expected. He would be invaluable around the squad but his effectiveness on the pitch at the highest level has been called into question, meaning that he just misses out on the plane for me.

Ross Barkley: Finally starting to deliver on the promise he showed before his latter teenage years were hampered by serious injury, Ross Barkley has set the Premier League alight at times this year. The choice was a tough one between him and Michael Carrick, because although they play different positions, I felt a reserve for the Gerrard role was required. Barkley however would be a more than adept replacement should injury befall Wilshere or Lallana.

Jermain Defoe: In an ideal world, England would not need to even consider including a striker who is currently plying his trade for Toronto F.C. However, with such a shortage of quality front men, the former Spurs striker would still come into the reckoning. He has an admirable record for England and, should he make it to Brazil, would still not be a bad option off the bench if you are looking for a goal.


  • Starting XI Against Italy:my england

Whilst the 6 most defensive players almost pick themselves, there are far more options to consider in the attacking region of the pitch. I have picked Jordan Henderson to start predominantly for his ability to get up and down the pitch so effectively. He and Lallana are energetic enough to disrupt the Italian dictators of play, such as Pirlo and De Rossi. Should they begin to tire, then you always have the option to bring on either Jack Wilshere to add something different to the midfield, or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner for their stamina and energy levels.

Although you may disagree with Wayne Rooney being selected to play on the left, this is not a rigid front three that I have in mind. With two of the successful Liverpool front three from this season, it would make sense to employ a fluid system here with a great degree of interchanging positions. All 3 have shown throughout the campaign that they can work diligently for their defensive responsibilities too. With Rooney perhaps mainly on the left, his famed tracking back could help to counteract the forward runs of the progressive Italian full-back Ignazio Abaté. Should there be the need for extra legs later in the game, then Hodgson could use Welbeck or Oxlade-Chamberlain again. Or, should the situation require it, the introduction of Ricky Lambert would provide the Italy defence with an entirely different proposition to defend against.


All in all, I believe that the squad as a whole contains the right blend of youth and experience that would constitute a healthy atmosphere within the camp. Big tournament experience can only help the younger members in the squad for the future. As for the first team itself, if employed with the correct tactics then it can form a solid defensive unit, but also possessing the pace and cutting edge to hopefully punish teams on the counter attack. With the additional bonus of avoiding injury, they can provide a stern test to any side on their day.

I am currently at university studying Mechanical Engineering, but in my spare time I'm into all things football. I'm an avid Liverpool fan but always try to remain impartial. My other interests include gaming and Formula One.


Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022

The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.



Photo: Getty Images

After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.

Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.

Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

– FA Chairman Greg Dyke reveals his ambitious plan in 2013.

Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.

Eddie Nketiah

Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.

Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.

In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.

It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.

Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson

Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.

Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.

Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.

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Who will bring football home? England’s predicted World Cup 2022 squad

Players from Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Bristol City feature.

Mathew Nash



England were desperately close to making it into the World Cup final, after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals.

The Three Lions did however bring back some pride and promise from the long-suffering England fans.

With England also the World Under-17 and Under-20 Champions, the future is brighter than ever.

So who will be at the World Cup in 2022?

It seems impossible to guess four years in advance. Not many would have suggested the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire or Jesse Lingard four years ago.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The squad, hopefully, will not change much and the experienced players in the squad will likely still be around.

However, for the sake of the article and debate, anyone who will be over 30 in 2022 has been ignored. That leaves Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in the cold, even if some of them will likely be present.

Eric Dier also got nudged out, as his form recently has been a concern and Nick Pope has been replaced.

So who makes the XI and the overall squad of 23?


Jordan Pickford

The Everton stopper cemented his place as England’s new number one during the quarter-final triumph over Sweden. Highly-rated by club and country and with excellent distribution it will be no surprise if he remains England’s first-choice in 2022.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Jack Butland

What a deputy. The Stoke City goalkeeper could easily be our number one. The Potters relegation will hopefully not set him back and he should push Pickford for years to come.

Angus Gunn

The son of a Scotland international has so far rejected their international calls. Recently joined Southampton for £13.5 million and will hope to cement his place as a Premier League regular.

Honourable mentions: Nick Pope, Freddie Woodman, Dean Henderson.


John Stones

Despite one lapse of concentration which cost England crucially against Croatia the Manchester City man was excellent in Russia.

If he maintains a starting place at City and his career is not derailed, then Stones will be one of the leaders in Qatar.

Harry Maguire

Became a national hero this summer. A swashbuckling defender with an eye for a goal and a great meme. Should be a multi-cap England international.

Joe Gomez

Replacing Kyle Walker as the pace-man in a back three is Liverpool’s Gomez. If he can combat his recent injury troubles he will be a certain future England player. Remember how he shackled Neymar back in November.

Jamaal Lascelles

For many people, the Newcastle captain should have been in Russia ahead of Phil Jones or Gary Cahill.

Rightly so. A brilliant leader who would slot into a back three perfectly and deserves to be in the England fold for the next four years.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Dael Fry

The Middlesbrough defender is one inclusion that may cause derision. But this lad is extremely talented.

A reliable defender, good with the ball at his feet and a favourite at St George’s Park. Fry will hope to emerge as an England hopeful in the years to come.

Honourable mentions: Eric Dier, Alfie Mawson, Michael Keane, Ben Wilmot.


Trent Alexander-Arnold

Already in the England picture and shone v Belgium. Will likely play in the ¾ play-off this weekend. In four years he might be playing in the final.

Jonjoe Kenny

A tough call this but the Everton defender is like the Kieran Trippier to Alexander-Arnold’s Walker-like characteristics.

Whilst the Liverpool man has the pace and the power Kenny is more deliberate and his crossing is fantastic.

A favourite with the England youth management and the eventual successor to Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dujon Sterling, Steven Sessegnon.

Ryan Sessegnon

A shoe-in for 2022 if he remains fit and healthy. The Fulham star is perhaps England’s most exciting prospect.

He might even be considered an attacker by 2022 but for now, he would be an excellent left wing-back and will hopefully make his England bow this season.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Joe Bryan

This might be the biggest swing and potential miss in the squad. The Bristol City star is wanted by a host of clubs this summer after his fantastic form at Ashton Gate.

But he is a hard-working and super-fit young man who, given the right opportunities, is easily capable of playing for his nation.

Honourable mentions: Lewis Gibson, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell


Lewis Cook

Absolutely adored by the England camp the Bournemouth man has already made his England debut. More positive in his passing than Jordan Henderson and more dynamic than Eric Dier, he is surely the future of England’s composed holding role.

Harry Winks

Set for a big break at Tottenham this season he has the potential to be an England star. If he can overcome his current injury trouble he would seem like being a shoe-in for 2022.

Phil Foden

England lacked a midfielder who could pick the locks of the Croatia defence in the semi-finals. This is the young man to do just that. The Manchester City youngster needs to break into the first-team fold but given what he has already achieved that should not be a problem.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

A lot depends on his next move, as Chelsea does not seem to be the right place for RLC to develop.

Showed in all his England performances that he is a talent to keep an eye on for the future and England will surely nurture him.

Dele Alli

May not have set the world alight in Russia, but the Tottenham star’s talent cannot be overlooked.

If he can get to the level he is capable of, then Alli is a 100-cap man with ease.

Jesse Lingard

Can he continue to prove people wrong for another four years?

Excellent at the World Cup and been in fine form for Manchester United. If he continues to progress in this way, then he should still be in the England set-up four years from now.

James Maddison

A tough choice considering the wealth of attacking midfield talent but the Leicester newbie seems the most likely to reach the levels necessary to play at a World Cup.

The £24 million talent can play a number of positions and is a special talent the Premier League will enjoy watching next term.

Honourable mentions: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish, Kieran Dowell,


Raheem Sterling

He divided opinion among some at this summer’s World Cup. But under the guidance of Pep Guardiola he will continue to improve.

Whether out wide or through the middle, England will surely stick by the attacker.

(Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry Kane

The nation’s current captain and front-runner for the Golden Boot award at this summer’s tournament it is hard to see how he won’t lead the line again in four years time.

If he keeps going at his current rate, Kane will surely take Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for England.

Ademola Lookman

Some felt the Everton attacker was unlucky not to go this summer. After thriving on loan at RB Leipzig it seemed he might make a late lunge.

This summer is big for Lookman. He needs to decide where is best to carry on his career which could be key to a future England career.

Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United talent can surely only get better. If he can become a regular starter, wherever he happens to play his club football then the teenager will hope to secure a place in Qatar.

Honourable mentions: Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Eddie Nketiah.

Who did we miss? Can England bring football home in 2022?

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Three Everton players who could help England bring football home in 2022

Everton have a long list of top talents coming through that could make it into the England team.

Mathew Nash



England are out of the World Cup following defeat against Croatia in the semi-finals last night. But the future looks bright for England. They had the second youngest team in the tournament and are the current under-20 and under-17 World Champions.

So who could help them bring football home at Qatar 2022?

When looking at Everton’s current crop, it is hard to pick just one.

Ademola Lookman is an excellent attacker, although could be on his way. Callum Connolly’s versatility makes him a manager’s dream whilst Tom Davies had a brilliant 2016-17 season, even if last term was less impressive.

But here are the three Everton players who might have a chance of heading to Qatar in four years time.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Like England’s summer hero Harry Maguire the 21-year-old came through the ranks at Sheffield United. Since joining Everton his progress has been astonishing.

He is already a hero for England. He scored the winner for England’s under-20s last summer as they won the World Cup.

With striking positions set to be up for grabs in four years time, DCL will no doubt be in the running.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Kieran Dowell

The spindly playmaker is adored in the England and Everton set-ups for his God-given natural talent.

Stormed into a loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, which admittedly dwindled toward the end.

But with his dexterity and ability, only injury and himself could hold Dowell back from making it to Qatar.

(during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Leicester, England.

Jonjoe Kenny

Dowell’s best mate and England’s trusted right-back at youth level. His cross-city rival Trent Alexander-Arnold may be catching the eye but Kenny is no slouch.

An exquisite crosser of the ball and defensively sound he is the Trippier if Alexander-Arnold is the Walker of England’s future right-back choices.

Like Dowell, eligible for Ireland, so England, must ensure the Everton pair are aware of their pathway.

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