With under four months to go until England’s World Cup finals campaign kicks off, we thought we’d have a go at picking our 22 man squad for the trip to Brazil. With plenty of time for the likely choices to suffer the same fate as Theo Walcott, or as per every major finals, to break a metertarsal and become the tabloid headline of “will he or won’t he make it?”, this could be far too early, and we know that someone from outside of this group will hit peak form and sneak in (hence the current inclusion of Raheem Sterling which four months ago would more likely have been Andros Townsend).
The problem of England’s first choice goalkeeper being kept out of his club side by a very average Romanian, thankfully appears to have passed. We were however surprised at the time about how many experts were overlooking the injured Ben Foster when discussing possible back-ups to Joe Hart, as frankly he’s the only other English goalkeeper we’d have any confidence in. Fortunately, although he’s playing for an out of form West Brom team, Foster is back and in reasonable nick. Our third choice is probably a bit controversial given the claims of Fraser Forster and John Ruddy, however our reasoning is this. Third choice goalkeeper never plays, so you might as well take along a young chap who may stand a chance of one day being England’s first choice than someone who, in Ruddy’s case, has had a pretty average season, and Forster, who is in our opinion, an average goalkeeper in a side that’s dominant domestically.
It seems the English back four nearly picks itself, with fortunately the claims of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand a thing of the past. Ashley Cole may we’ll be out of the Chelsea side, but he’s still probably the best England left back in terms of defending, however it’s becoming a closer decision with Leighton Baines. With back up central defenders, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling able to do a job at right back, it enables us to exclude Kyle Walker as back up to Glen Johnson, which is frankly ok by us. Honourable mentions to the likes of Steven Caulker who should keep their holidays on hold, just in case.
This section was ultimately the trickiest to decide on. The first two names pretty much pick themselves. Michael Carrick has proved that he can play a steady holding role, as long as the opposition don’t put too much pressure on. However with Gerrard playing a deeper role for Liverpool, could it put Carrick’s place in question with other younger players such as Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson pushing their cases. Frank Lampard gets in for experience alone, and though James Milner is the player everyone loves to hate, his versatility and ability to “do a job” make him a certainty. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lallana both offer pace and creativity as well as being able to do both from central or wider positions.
Whether he’s worth his £300k per week deal is questionable, however Wayne Rooney, particularly if on form, is vital for England’s hopes of doing anything in Brazil. Daniel Sturridge’s form has been excellent all season so he must go to the competition as England’s first choice with Rooney dropping in behind. Welbeck offers options wide, and Andy Carroll, if fit offers a direct option particularly if chasing the game. Raheem Sterling is the wide player in form, although there will no doubt be questioning from the media if Andros Townsend doesn’t go to Brazil, and Adam Johnson has also put in a claim for inclusion with his recent form. The move of Wilfried Zaha to get game time at Cardiff has probably come too late, but if he single handedly keeps them in the Premier League, who knows?
So that’s our pick…what do you think, and what would your 23 be?