England boss Roy Hodgson has now named his 23-man squad for the World Cup this summer.
There were few surprises in the squad, but the fact the Three Lions boss is taking eight players under 24 is highly encouraging for the future. Here is the England World Cup squad:
Keepers: Joe Hart, Ben Foster, Fraser Forster
Defenders: Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Phil Jagielka
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, James Milner
Strikers: Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert
The England team has been accused of sticking with the old guard for too long and Hodgson’s step of picking so many young players is encouraging and exciting for fans of the Three Lions. There are a number of players with a lot of potential in the World Cup squad.
Ross Barkley has enjoyed a productive campaign in his first real full season in the Everton first team, where boss Roberto Martinez has given him the opportunity to impress. The youngster has shown flashes of brilliance this season and can only get better.
Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling was a key player in the second half of the season for the Reds in their charge for the Premier League title challenge. Sterling has scored vital goals this season and looked very dangerous to opposition defences.
Sterling’s Reds teammate Jordan Henderson has shown a lot of drive this season and is starting to justify his £20million price tag. The 23-year-old was much maligned last season for his performances, but few could claim he now does not deserve his place in the England squad after such a good season at club level.
Arsenal duo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere has had injury hit campaigns. When Oxlade-Chamberlain has played this season he has shown a great maturity and ability, but even when fit Wilshere has not enjoyed the best of campaigns. However, he is still regarded as one of the brightest English talents.
Manchester United trio Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all offer great versatility, even if they have not enjoyed great campaigns at club level. All three players’ places in the squad could be questioned, but they are young and still have time to improve.
Hodgson has also picked the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Joe Hart and James Milner, who all have experience of tournament football in the past. The more experienced players will be needed to help guide the younger players through.
Expectations of the England national team seems to be very low this time around, so it could be a good time for Roy Hodgson to give his younger players some tournament experience, with future tournaments in mind.
Germany did something to similar at the last World Cup, but to a much larger extent and the strategy is starting to pay off, with the Germans now once again considered one of the best teams on the international stage.
I would not dare to suggest that the young English players are anywhere near the same standard as their German counterparts in 2010, but the strategy of giving youngsters a chance at a big tournament is in a similar vein.
Let’s just hope that the strategy helps those inexperienced English players gather some valuable experience. All the young players selected seem like confident and I doubt they will let their country down if called upon.
Roy Hodgson stated a few weeks ago that he would take risks at the World Cup and I argued that he needed to take the promising young players with technical ability to take risks. Mr Hodgson is a man associated with a cautious approach.
However, he has not played it safe with his squad. The former-West Brom boss has actually picked players with flair and technical ability. Even if England goes out of the World Cup at in the group stage, those young players will have more international experience when the next tournaments roll around.
England are major outsiders to win the World Cup at odds of 33/1. The Three Lions look unlikely to claim the trophy, but whatever happens those young players going to Brazil will have gain valuable experience in a major tournament.
Boss Roy Hodgson in my opinion has picked the right squad, give or take one or two players. The England boss has been brave with his selection and those young players could very well repay his faith with good performances in Brazil.
Has Roy Hodgson made a squad selection for World Cup?