Predicting the 5 Most Influential Red Devils for England at Brazil 2014
After taking care of business vs. Montenegro and Poland, England have officially qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
That England squad is made up of plenty United players, with some such as Wayne Rooney being surefire starters, and others such as Tom Cleverley having to fight for their place in the lineup.
It is obvious that some players will play a bigger role than others for the Three Lions when Rio comes beckoning.
Honorable Mention: Adnan Januzaj
Though he was born in Belgium, and is a child of parents from Kosovo and Albania, teenage prodigy Adnan Januzaj could actually play for England (The Mirror) if he wishes to do so.
Due to the FIFA residency rule, which says that a player aged eighteen or older who has lived in a country for five years can play for that country, Januzaj would be eligible for England later this year.
While many expect him to play for his birth country of Belgium (ESPNFC), Januzaj would immediately make an impact on England should he choose to play for Roy Hodgson.
Danny Welbeck currently occupies the left-wing position, but there would be no reason that he couldn't steal time from him just like he did at United.
England would be extremely lucky to have a skillful, creative and potentially goal-scoring winger who could immediately make an impact.
5. Tom Cleverley
Even if Tom Cleverley is unlikely to be a starter for England in the midfield, he could still provide solid play off the bench when his number is called.
With two World Cup Qualifier appearances for this season, including one start, Cleverley is considered one of the better options on the bench.
While he doesn't possess the same vision as Michael Carrick, the physicality of Steven Gerrard or the scoring touch of Frank Lampard, Cleverley can be relied on to come in, distribute the ball, and contribute to defense.
He'll be expected to see at least a little bit of time during the World Cup.
4. Chris Smalling
Despite having to vigorously fight for playing time under David Moyes (only 2 EPL appearances this season), Smalling has enjoyed a surprisingly big role for England.
With Kyle Walker's suspension, Smalling was called upon to make his first WCQ start at right-back vs. Poland.
Sure, he will likely be stuffed behind Walker and Glen Johnson by the time Brazil rolls around, but Smalling will be one of the first people considered for any opening in the defense because of his ability to play in the center or on the flanks.
Not yet a world-class player, Smalling is still a menace in the air and a capable fill-in should the back line suffer an injury.
3. Danny Welbeck
Currently a starter at the left-wing position, Welbeck has been decent but still leaves England fans wondering:"Is he really the best left-winger we've got?"
The answer to that question is probably not, as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott are currently waiting in the wings.
Always a player with great physical attributes, Welbeck still struggles to be clinical in front of goal and consistent in his performances.
Meanwhile, Andros Townsend has already overshadowed the United man on the opposite flank in just two starts for England.
Welbeck is simply not a good enough finisher to be a striker, and he's not a natural winger either.
Whether or not he is starting in the World Cup, he could still assume the role of a super sub a la Theo Walcott.
2. Michael Carrick
With the combination of Gerrard and Lampard still failing to really pay dividends, and Jack Wilshere acting up (The Telegraph), Michael Carrick is beginning to once again receive the recognition he deserves.
Quite arguably one of United's best players last season, Carrick possesses great passing vision and composure on the ball.
No one will accuse him of being a box-to-box midfielder, but his ability to supply the attackers is undeniable, as he leads the EPL with 576 completed passes, per Squawka.
Carrick is not the flashiest player on the pitch but will get the ball to the forwards and could pair up nicely with the long-ball style of Steven Gerrard.
1. Wayne Rooney
The only player on this list guaranteed to start every game for England (barring injury or suspension) is Wayne Rooney.
He is once again a goal-scoring machine for club and country.
Rooney has scored a goal apiece in his last two games vs. Montenegro and Poland, and also has three goals in EPL play thus far.
Aside from his strong attacking play, Rooney will bring valuable leadership to the squad, now at the age of 27.
With the 22-year-old Andros Townsend and Danny Welbeck beside him, as well as the 24-year-old Daniel Sturridge, with only five appearances for England, Rooney will need to set the example for other players and be a voice on the field.
Arguably England's best player, Rooney's experience only increases his immense value to the Three Lions.
(All stats and info via ESPNFC unless otherwise indicated)
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