England’s national team host crucial World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland over the next two weeks, with the form of three players in particular a cause for concern for Three Lions fans. England's passage to Brazil is by no means straightforward, with the next two weeks likely to decide the team's fate.
Hart’s form of late has been a worry for Manchester City and England fans alike.
The usually reliant goalkeeper has made a series of errors this season, compounded by a miserable showing against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
Hart beaten easily by Robben as City go 3-0 down after 60 mins. Disastrous performance by England keeper.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) October 2, 2013
His display demonstrated a real lack of confidence ahead of England’s two crunch games.
Similar performances against Montenegro and Poland could damage England’s hopes of reaching Brazil.
Goalkeeping mistakes are often blown out of proportion, but the frequency of Hart’s mistakes should worry England fans.
Jack Wilshere is a future England captain in the making.
He has, however, been overshadowed at Arsenal by the arrival of Mesut Ozil and the rejuvenation of Aaron Ramsey.
He is likely to start for England in the upcoming games and has a chance to illustrate why he is so highly regarded if he can dictate England’s play.
On the other hand, though, disappointing performances will only ensure that the rumblings of discontent grow louder following his poor display in Ukraine.
Rooney looks to be back near his very best right now.
Troubled by injuries in the early going this season, he will be the fulcrum of England’s attack against Montenegro and Poland if fit.
With uncertainties regarding his future still prominent, he needs to get a full season under his belt.
Change is not what Rooney needs now, he needs consistency.
If England have any chance of performing well at the World Cup they will need Rooney to be their main man, starting with Montenegro and Poland.
The BBC’s Phil McNulty put Joe Hart’s current form in to context following City’s defeat to Bayern Munich:
The clock may be ticking for Hart if the decline continues—but the importance of England's imminent internationals, the defining role they will play in the attempt to qualify for Brazil next summer and the risks of such a significant change will surely spare him from losing his place.
Squawka’s Twitter poll revealed significantly different opinions among England fans, however.
POLL RESULT: You lot want Fraser Forster in goal with 61% of the vote. 30% would continue with Hart and 9% want Ruddy between the sticks.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 3, 2013
If England qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, then Hart and Wilshere must improve. Rooney, meanwhile, must continue to lead the line at Manchester United.
Ultimately, the trio will be on the plane to Brazil should England qualify. For Hart and Wilshere, however, a place in the starting lineup is by no means guaranteed.