England vs. Moldova: Lions Outsiders Who Deserve Their Shot in Qualifier

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2013

BURTON-UPON-TRENT, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 03:  Ross Barkley and Steven Gerrard of England arrive for a training session at St Georges Park on September 3, 2013 in Burton-upon-Trent, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Having won the reverse fixture 5-0 back in September of last year, England can head into their World Cup qualifier against Moldova this week fairly confident of another victory.

As things stand, the Three Lions are in good shape to progress from Group H and book their spot at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

While some may say the best option is to play as safe as ever and field the “strongest” team possible, when else can a team try new things in the pursuit of self-improvement if not in fixtures such as this?    

With the Premier League campaign still in its infancy, there are a few dark horses who may have impressed Roy Hodgson enough to earn their shot at England prominence this week.

All stats come courtesy of Squawka.


John Ruddy

Just over a year since making his international debut for England, John Ruddy has the chance to once again come into Roy Hodgson’s set-up.

Having conceded two goals against Cardiff City and been in some generally shaky form so far this season, Joe Hart’s spot may be considered up for grabs.

The Manchester City stopper can be glad that in-form West Brom No. 1 Ben Foster is currently injured, but the competition for England’s goalkeeping spot doesn’t end there.

So far this season, Ruddy has averaged 1.67 saves per game compared to Hart’s tally of just 0.67 per game, and the Norwich keeper has showed that having an inferior defence in front of him doesn’t mean his performances must suffer.


Steven Caulker

Upon moving to Cardiff City this summer, one might have questioned just whether or not Steven Caulker was making the right choice for his career.

However, having quickly established himself as one of the club’s star performers early on in the campaign, the 21-year-old is showing that his move may come off.

Caulker was instrumental in preventing Manchester City from gathering much steam in attack during his side’s 3-2 win at the Cardiff City Stadium last month and has shown himself to be a huge aerial presence.

Sky Sports have reported that the defender was absent from training on Tuesday, causing some concern about his fitness.

That being said, if Caulker is available for the Moldova clash, a partnership alongside Gary Cahill or Phil Jagielka could be a fine experiment.


Ross Barkley

Getting his Everton season off to a scoring start at Carrow Road several weeks ago, Ross Barkley is already thriving upon the senior chance afforded to him to by Roberto Martinez.

The Toffees youngster has long been tipped as something of an English prodigy and, like fellow Everton graduate Wayne Rooney, could yet make his international bow as a teenager.

With the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Michael Carrick all around him, the 19-year-old is in excellent company in terms of mentorship and should be given his senior debut with a view to possibly having him ready for the 2014 World Cup.