Could a Gerrard, Lampard & Wilshere Midfield Prosper for England in Brazil?
England's 4-0 victory over Moldova on Friday night was essentially a stroll in the park, but it did at least serve as a marker for Roy Hodgson's potential tactical forethoughts.
Aside from the Rickie Lambert question mark up front, focus can be placed in the midfield, and the gaffer pulled no punches in starting a midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshere in a 4-3-3 formation.
Hodgson risked the wrath of Arsene Wenger to call up an overworked Wilshere and persisted in playing the Lampard-Gerrard combination widely labelled as incompatible.
It's true that, for the large part of the last decade, Gerrard and Lampard have failed to play together effectively in an England shirt, but it does feel as though Hodgson has found a method to unlock both players' best when representing their country.
The Liverpool captain now plays almost exclusively as a regista, sitting deep—at times just five yards in front of the defensive line—and spreading the ball around with ease.
The late runs into the box are left almost exclusively to Lampard now and thus the area in which both players clashed for the best part of a decade has now been removed.
With Wilshere providing a bit of bite and energy alongside them, by most accounts they could be considered the perfect trio—goal threat, playmaker and midfield shuttler.
Three excellent players—two Champions League winners and one of the most promising prospects in world football—could well form the nexus of Hodgson’s midfield, should the side qualify for Brazil.
Of all the possible combinations in the national set-up, it's easily the most technically talented. It's also the most balanced (unless you sacrifice quality) and the most composed at the highest level.
But is it reliable over the course of several intense weeks?
Wilshere is just 21 years of age, but he's had more injuries at this stage than Lampard can boast in his entire career. He's far from durable and may well carry a "handle with care" tag on the flight to Rio de Janeiro.
With Gerrard 34 and Lampard 35 this summer, can this trio truly be relied upon to form the constant England will need?
It's clear that this issue is also on Hodgson's mind and it's no surprise to see him mulling over alternate options—Ross Barkley's call-up makes a little more sense in this respect, while Jake Livermore, Jonjo Shelvey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Rodwell have also featured in the past 12 months.
Brazil's climate demands, atmospheric changes and the tournament's busy nature will ensure Hodgson has a lot to think about when it comes to selection and rotation.
Can England make a deep run into the tournament with a midfield three that's seemingly made of glass?
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