A lot of people have asked me my opinion on the England squad recently and with just three months to go until the World Cup kicks-off, I thought I’d put together a squad of 23 players that I think Roy Hodgson to take to Brazil.
Joe Hart (39 caps, 20 clean sheets) – 26 years old/Manchester City
The obvious first choice, Joe Hart is still England’s best goalkeeper by a long way despite having an up and down season.
Ben Foster (6 caps, 3 clean sheets) – 30 years old/West Bromwich Albion
Fraser Forster (1 cap, 0 clean sheets) – 25 years old/Celtic
The two other remaining goalkeepers are unlikely to play which makes you perhaps think he would be good additions to the squad. Firstly, I think you need an experienced back-up in the unlikely circumstance that your first choice gets injured. For me, this was a tough decision between Ben Foster and John Ruddy but I went with Foster as in my opinion he is simply better than the Norwich stopper and is more likely to be more motivational in the dressing. I also gave Fraser Forster a place in the squad, despite his less than stellar debut against Chile last November. The Celtic man is likely to be Hart’s deputy in a few years so going to Brazil will give him tournament experience just like Hart had in South Africa four years ago.
Glen Johnson (50 caps, 1 goal) – 29 years old/Liverpool
After winning his 50th cap against Denmark earlier this month, Johnson has the experience and knowledge. Our best right back.
Kyle Walker (10 caps, 0 goals) – 23 years old/Tottenham Hotspur
The fight for the other right-back spot is tight and has been perhaps one of country’s weakest positions in recent years. Kyle Walker wins the battle for me, I just hope he can improve his defending to add his blistering pace when going forward.
Phil Jagielka (24 caps, 1 goal) – 31 years old/Everton
Gary Cahill (23 caps, 2 goals) – 28 years old/Chelsea
Our strongest centre-back pairing is definitely Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka. They have played together so many times and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Joe Hart has also become familiar with at least one of them playing in front of him.
John Terry (78 caps, 6 goals) – 33 years old/Chelsea
A very debateable one, so debatable that I am considering doing an individual blog post just on why I think John Terry should be in Hodgson. The Chelsea captain of course quit international football in 2012 but for his experience, presence and combination with Cahill are just three of the reasons why Hodgson should enquire about his services. Look out for that aforementioned blog post.
Phil Jones (9 caps, 0 goals) – 22 years old/Manchester United
There are many other options at centre-back, but Phil Jones gets in ahead of Manchester United teammate because of his versatility. The 22 year old can also play at right-back and in midfield, doing an adequate job wherever he plays.
Leighton Baines (22 caps, 1 goal) – 29 years old/Everton
Leighton Baines has overtaken Ashley Cole as our best left-back in the past couple of years and there is no question that he should be on the plane and starting our first game against Italy.
Ashley Cole (107 caps, 0 goals) – 33 years old/Chelsea
The recent emergence of Luke Shaw has put Ashley Cole’s position in the squad under scrutiny but I think the Chelsea man should go on again his experience and I also have a feeling he may quit international football after the tournament.
Adam Lallana (3 caps, 0 goals) – 25 caps/Southampton
Southampton have had four of their players make England debuts in the last 12 months, but I think only Adam Lallana has merited a place on the plane (spoilers). His impact as a substitute against Denmark was superb and has general quality. His ability to play in the centre is also useful.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (14 caps, 3 goals) – 20 years old/Arsenal
Very impressive since returning from injury, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a similar player to Arsenal teammate Theo Walcott making him the perfect man to replace Walcott, ruled out of the tournament through injury, in the squad.
Steven Gerrard (109 caps, 21 goals) – 33 years old/Liverpool
Captain fantastic. Another player who will more than likely be playing his last major international tournament. There hasn’t been a competitive England squad without him in the last ten years and you can still see why. His experience to the younger members of his squad, some of whom are his Liverpool teammates will be vital. However I don’t think Frank Lampard will be picked alongside him. With Hodgson hinting that ‘a big name’ could miss out on the squad, I think the Chelsea midfielder will be the one to forfeit.
Ross Barkley (3 caps, 0 goals) – 20 years old/Everton
One of this country’s most highly-rated youngsters I think it will be Ross Barkley who means Lampard misses out. Will be plenty of tournament squads in years to come and should start now, even if he features little.
Jordan Henderson (8 caps, 0 goals) – 23 years old/Liverpool
If you had told me that I would be picking Jordan Henderson in my England World Cup squad 12 months ago, I would have told you to improve your future predicting skills. But such has been his performances in the last year, I feel as though he will be a valuable addition to squad, especially alongside club teammate Gerrard.
Jack Wilshere (15 caps, 0 goals) – 22 years old/Arsenal
Jack Wilshere missed out on the Euro 2012 squad through injury and some people think he should not go to the World Cup purely because there are better midfielders than him. They are right, there are, but not enough to make him miss out. He will either be an influential game changer or a player who fails to live up to expectations and make his critics boast about how they were right.
Raheem Sterling (2 caps, 0 goals) – 19 years old/Liverpool
The least experienced outfield player in the squad, Raheem Sterling is another play who has turned into a fantastic prospect in the last 12 months. He is in great form and will want to keep that going until the end of the season.
Andros Townsend (5 caps, 1 goal) – 22 years old/Tottenham Hotspur
Another young winger who gets in ahead of other future talents out wide such as Tom Ince and Wilfried Zaha. Andros Townsend is probably slightly better than Sterling in terms of his overall game and was superb against Montenegro last October.
Wayne Rooney (89 caps, 38 goals) – 28 years old/Manchester United
Along with Gerrard, Wayne Rooney will probably be one of the first names on Roy Hodgson’s squad sheet. Slowly ageing, Rooney still has a fantastic talent going forward, whether that be setting goals up or putting them in himself.
Daniel Sturridge (10 caps, 3 goals) – 24 years old/Liverpool
Daniel Sturridge has revived his career at Liverpool and has been the best English player in the Premier League this season. He is likely to come up against his strike partner Luis Suarez in the group stages against Uruguay.
Jermain Defoe (55 caps, 19 goals) – 31 years old/Toronto
Now at Toronto, Jermain Defoe is our most experienced striker and without his goal against Slovenia at the last World Cup, we wouldn’t have had the chance to embarrass ourselves against Germany. Hodgson should definitely take the time to go over to the MLS as Defoe must always be considered an option until his retirement.
Andy Carroll (9 caps, 2 goals) – 25 years old/West Ham United
Maybe a surprise inclusion for some of you, but Andy Carroll has one major advantage. His height. Of course that is not a reason to pick him, but he proved at Euro 2012 he is not just here to make up the numbers. With a good supply from out wide, and he will always be a threat to defences in our group.
Stand by players (7): John Ruddy, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Danny Welbeck & Rickie Lambert
The team I would start with in our first group game against Italy: (4-3-3) Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Barkley, Gerrard, Henderson; Sturridge, Rooney, Oxlade-Chamberlain
Disagree with any of my choices? Let me know in the comments. You can also put together your 23 man squad here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/world-cup/10497297/World-Cup-2014-England-Squad-Selector-pick-your-23-then-compare-to-our-choices.html and compare it to the selections of pundits Henry Winter, Michael Owen, Paul Hayward, Alan Hansen and Alan Smith.