6 Youngsters England Hopes Are Ready for World Cup 2014 in Brazil
England are looking ahead to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil knowing several young talents need to continue their development if they want to feature.
The Three Lions squad is an old one, with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole likely to be limited in their capacity by the time the tournament rolls around.
So who do England have among their ranks to replace the old guard and provide competition to the current stars?
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Selecting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was a bold call by Roy Hodgson ahead of Euro 2012, purely due to his tender age and prospect-like nature. Some said it was Theo Walcott all over again.
He got his fair share of minutes as the boss poured his faith into the youngster, but despite great enthusiasm and effort, lacked the finesse required at international level.
This campaign hasn't been brilliant for the Arsenal forward, who remains a little rough around the edges. Hopefully, he can make large strides toward realising his huge potential over the second half of this season.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's Arsenal teammate, Jack Wilshere, carries England's footballing hopes across his shoulders.
The central midfield dynamo was thrust into the limelight at an early age, but missed around 16 months due to injury which has seriously stunted his progress (via The Independent).
He was already growing at an exponential rate, but the question now becomes whether or not he'll be world-class in time for Brazil 2014.
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In November 2011, England defeated Spain 1-0 at Wembley in a warm up for Euro 2012.
While many overcooked the victory as "famous" and "telling," one thing was abundantly clear—given a holding role in midfield, Phil Jones will out-run any man, any day and deliver the goods.
His partnership with Scott Parker that night was sublime, and I see him as a midfielder rather than a centre-back. He's just come back from a fairly lengthy injury, so Roy Hodgson will be hoping he stays fit and healthy so he can assess him in his next friendly.
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Southampton used to have a problem at left-back, but now they've got Luke Shaw.
The 17-year-old academy product has been an eagerly anticipated prospect for two seasons now, and Nigel Adkins wasn't afraid to give him a chance.
In his career of five English Premier League starts, he's already shut down Robert Snodgrass and Jonas Gutierrez—two seasoned professionals.
Leighton Baines will have his eye on that left-back spot for Brazil 2014, but what happens to Ashley Cole is anyone's guess. Shaw represents an excellent safety net.
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Ashley Westwood has been picked up at just the right time by Paul Lambert, with the 22-year-old now improving significantly with every game he plays.
He's a midfield metronome in the mould of Michael Carrick, sitting deep and recycling the ball with calm and assured ease.
In a young Aston Villa team, Westwood carries himself like a senior professional with five seasons of top-flight experience under his belt, controlling the midfield and giving Christian Benteke service.
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Raheem Sterling has done Brendan Rodgers a big favour this year—if he hadn't adapted so quickly and provided a viable option on the wing, Liverpool might be stuck with Joe Cole starting.
He's clearly in Roy Hodgson's thoughts after gaining his first England cap recently, and fans will simply hope he continues to develop at a frankly phenomenal rate.
He's daring, he's positive and he's a risk-taker. He's an enigma who makes things happen—an enigma that England have been lacking for several years.