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England vs. San Marino: 3 Lions Players Who Must Justify Their Selection

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England vs. San Marino: 3 Lions Players Who Must Justify Their Selection
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Frank Lampard has pulled out of the game with a knee injury. Despite this, he still has to prove he has what it takes to be a factor at the World Cup in 2014.

When England play the minnows of international football, it doesn't always end the way it should. In 1993, they beat San Marino 7-1, but still failed to qualify for the World Cup because they needed to win by seven. San Marino took the lead after 8.33 seconds, which remains the fastest goal in World Cup history (via The Guardian).

Following the joy and despair of the 1990 World Cup, then just the despair of the 1992 European Championships, this moment confirmed to my childhood self that maybe the England side wasn't as good as everyone was making them out to be.

This trend has continued in the build-up to every tournament since, but the fact that Friday's game is a sellout confirms that the support for the national team remains unwavering.

Even though they are playing the worst team in the world—or perhaps because of that—there are players that have to assert their dominance in order to figure in Roy Hodgson's plans for Brazil in 2014.

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Jonjo Shelvey's still has a lot to learn, so his selection was surprising.

 

Jonjo Shelvey

Both Liverpool and England evidently have high hopes for the 20-year-old, but his selection isn't exactly an obvious one. Hodgson needs to test out fringe players, sure, but there are surely more deserving midfielders than Shelvey.

A poll conducted by Goal.com readers revealed that they were of the same opinion, with 34.21 percent stating that Shelvey was the least deserving of a call-up to the senior squad.

It's not so much Shelvey's ability that's in question, more his ability to control himself. With England's history littered with moments of madness that cost the team dearly in vital moments, is there room for a player who gets sent off, then proceeds to verbally abuse the manger of the opposing team?

Shelvey has to prove to Hodgson that he can be someone the team can depend on.

 

Frank Lampard

With Eurosport.Yahoo.com reporting that both Lampard and Ashley Cole will be offered deals of no longer than 12 months by Chelsea, the qualifying games for the 2014 World Cup are crucial to Lampard, in particular. 

At 34, this will likely be his final international tournament, so he needs to prove to Hodgson that he has both the drive and the fitness to make it through what will be a very demanding tournament in Brazil.

Then there are the comments about him being unable to play on the same team as Steven Gerrard, accusations that have dogged the Chelsea player from the outset.

They're not without merit either, so Lampard needs to take control of a midfield occupied by barmen and students and hammer home his superiority.

-----------UPDATE-----------

Frank Lampard has withdrawn from the San Marino game with a knee injury. This will do nothing for the concerns about his ability to contribute in two years time.

  -----------END OF UPDATE-----------

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Andy Carroll needs to prove his fitness before he can become a factor in Hodgson's plans.

 

Andy Carroll

Since moving from Newcastle, Carroll's career hasn't gone the way he would have envisioned. Deemed surplus to requirements before Brendan Rodgers had even given him a chance to prove himself, Carroll was unceremoniously loaned out to West Ham and not even replaced at Anfield.

At Upton Park, he quickly picked up a hamstring injury that has kept him out of the side, so his selection to the international squad is something of a mystery.

It's true that he offers the sort of aerial threat that Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney and Danny Wellbeck can't match, but his lack of match fitness suggests something of a wasted selection that may have been better used elsewhere.

Hammers manager Sam Allardyce has expressed his pleasure at Carroll's selection, saying that giving him some minutes on international duty will help him become match-fit for the Premier League.

That sort of comment only reinforces the idea that international football is a poor second to the glamour of club football and that players consider it more of an injury risk than an honour.

Whatever Carroll's opinion, he needs a good performance for England in order to get into the West Ham side, where further good performances will ensure his selection to the England squad.

Simple, isn't it?

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