With his 23-man World Cup squad announcement due on Monday, here are the five big choices England manager Roy Hodgson has to make...
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Ross Barkley's guile and balance married with explosive power make him a unique threat. Realistically, whoever goes will be a substitute and, as such, required to be a ‘game changer’. While occasionally imperious for Chelsea, Frank Lampard has struggled to translate such form to international level and that is unlikely to change in the autumn of his career. Barkley has developed into England’s most exciting – and more pertinently threatening – midfielder under Roberto Martinez and would offer a dangerous option from the bench.
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Rickie Lambert v Andy Carroll
The argument for both players surrounds England’s plan B. Who is a better alternative? Andy Carroll’s credentials as target man are not in question but, quite counter-intuitively, those very credentials could be to the detriment of England's cause. Such is his prowess with the direct ball, the temptation is to over-utilise it and become a more blunted attacking threat. Therefore, the greater finesse that marks Rickie Lambert’s play – which has seen him contribute 10 assists this season – sees him better suited for a spot in the squad for Brazil.
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Jordan Henderson v Tom Cleverley
Cast your mind back to the start of the World Cup qualification campaign and Cleverley was being hailed as England's next great No. 10 after an influential performance away at Moldova. Yes, that really happened. In the intervening time, he has been decried as a fraud, who hides away in games and offers very little beyond short passes - a petition was even launched to attempt to prevent him from being named in the travelling party. Cleverley did not deserve such ridicule but there is no question he has been overtaken by Henderson, who enjoyed a storming second half of the season and performed brilliantly in a number of different roles for Liverpool, offering valuable support to Gerrard. There's only one winner here.
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Luke Shaw v Ashley Cole
England have an absolute wealth of talent in the left-back department. Leighton Baines has nailed down the starting spot, and the raw talent of Luke Shaw makes a better understudy than the experience of Ashley Cole. Shaw’s youthful exuberance would offer another outlet for England if they were chasing a game; while Cole’s nous and experience would usually be used to shore things up. It makes sense that a more diverse option should be the back-up , especially as England will likely be chasing games.
VERDICT: Shaw - HODGSON HAS CONFIRMED COLE HAS NOT BEEN INCLUDED
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Youth v experience
Even the most optimistic of patriotic England fans would be hard pushed to give Hodgson’s men a genuine chance of bringing home a second World Cup this summer. A quarter-final appearance would represent an outstanding success for this transitional England side. Therefore caution may as well be thrown to the wind and take the opportunity to blood a new generation of England stars in the first team this summer to afford them that much vaunted commodity of ‘tournament experience’. Hodgson must take the players above, but also the likes of Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Ross Barkley
- Frank Lampard