England squads of recent years have been lauded because they have contained certainly members of our so called ‘Golden Generation’.
Unfortunately all that glitters is not gold, as the Three Lions have underachieved time after time in recent years.
So when looking at Roy Hodgson’s current options I started thinking to myself, just how good are England’s options heading into next year’s World Cup?
The golden generation are all now in their 30’s. John Terry is in international exile, while Ashley Cole faces a fight for his place from Leighton Baines.
Central midfield pairing Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard are still in Roy Hodgson’s plans, in fact Lampard will skipper the team against Chile and Germany in the upcoming friendly matches, with Gerrard out of the squad through injury.
People have been talking about ousting these players for years, but at the time it was just a case of getting rid for the sake of it. However, some of those players now have really opposition for their places.
For example, Chelsea’s Ashley Cole seems to be currently losing the battle for the left-back spot to Everton’s Leighton Baines. Few could argue that Cole has been better than the Everton star in recent seasons.
England boss Roy Hodgson has gone for evolution rather than revolution and I think it has worked relatively well in recent games. The introduction of some of England’s younger players into the team has worked to a degree.
The likes of Daniel Sturridge and Andros Townsend have impressed in recent qualifiers and will be hard to remove from the team. England also have some other very promising youngsters, such as Everton starlet Ross Barkley and West Brom youngster Saido Berahino.
Barkley has recently lost his place in the Everton first team, after an impressive start to the season, but is expected to have a big future in the game. Berahino has been used sparingly by the Baggies this season, but has impressed immensely with his cameo appearances.
Not only has he scored goals for West Brom, he has also been scoring goals for England’s under-21’s. The youngster scored a brace last night as the junior lions defeated Finland 3-0 in qualifying for the European Championship.
Roy Hodgson has called-up a number of new players for the upcoming friendlies. Southampton duo Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez will be part of the squad and could make their debuts. Lallana has previously been in an England squad, but never made it onto the field.
The Saints midfielder has been in sparkling form this season, as Southampton have impressed everybody in the Premier League this season. More Saints players could be in with a chance of a call-up, with the likes of highly-rated full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Luke Shaw in top form this season.
Roy Hodgson faces a dilemma with current first choice keeper Joe Hart out-of-favour and out-of-form at Manchester City. Celtic keeper Fraser Forster has been in top form for the last few seasons, but only now is being considered as a possible option for first choice.
The Hoops keeper is likely to be given the opportunity to impress in one of the friendlies, if not both as Hodgson looks at his goalkeeping options. Norwich’s John Ruddy may also be given the opportunity to impress.
It could prove vital that Hodgson makes the right decision, as if Joe Hart is not playing for his country he should not be playing for England. If Hart went into the World Cup still out-of-favour at City then he could cost England, like he has cost City this season.
I still think that Hart is probably the best goalkeeper in England, but he must work hard to get back into the City team and regain his concentration.
The emergence of young players and players that have never played for their country is always exciting. These friendly matches are a good way of Roy Hodgson looking at new players and new ideas.
He knows what the old guard can do and does not need to evaluate their importance to the team. The England boss will have the majority of squad for the World Cup already in his mind. However, these games could help some players cement their place in the team or the squad.
It’s a strange thing to say, but the England team is very much in transition, as Hodgson tries to introduce the younger players into the squad. Some of those new call-ups could be vital players in the future. There are usually a few surprises in the England World Cup squads.
I just hope that Roy Hodgson has the mental strength to go with players that are on form and not just the same old players on reputation. Most other countries pick their in-form players and do not care about reputations. It is about time England did the same.
England face Chile tonight in the first of two friendlies at Wembley. The Three Lions are currently 11/10 favourites for victory. The draw is 5/2, while the visitors are also 5/2 to claim victory on English soil.
England are likely to be putting out something of an experimental side, with injuries dogging their preparation for the clash and Chile are no pushovers. I really would not bet against Alexis Sanchez’s team heading home with something from the game.
Will Roy Hodgson select his England World Cup squad on form?