Selecting a 23-Man England Squad for 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil
England have officially qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Poland at Wembley.
Before we bog ourselves down as a nation over which South American side from Pot 1 we will draw and, subsequently, be crushed by, let's take an early look at what could be Roy Hodgson's final, 23-man squad.
Disagree? Add your squad into the comments section below.
Joe Hart, Manchester City
Hart might be under pressure, but he's a world-class 'keeper whose form will lift once again very soon. He made some pivotal stops against Poland to keep England's sheet clean, and if the White Eagles had drawn level in the second half, we may not be drafting this 23-man team at all.
Fraser Forster, Celtic
"The Great Wall of Glasgow," as the Spanish press have dubbed him, has had very little exposure to the England first team on account of Hart being the de facto No. 1 choice. Forster is one of the finest backups around, and few nations can boast two 'keepers of this standing.
Jack Butland, Stoke City
The third goalkeeper never gets to play a game in the World Cup, so rather than take John Ruddy and have him sit around for weeks, why not take Butland? It's the perfect chance to get him some big-tournament experience that will help in the years to come.
Ashley Cole, Chelsea
The defensive stalwart has come through 105 internationals and represents the perfect, experienced head to take to what is likely to be his final World Cup. He's been a rare constant in the Three Lions' constantly revolving defensive line.
With Ashley Cole out for the final two World Cup qualifiers, for once the English public weren't even remotely worried. Why? Leighton Baines can step in, and it's getting to the point where calls for him to be Roy Hodgson's No. 1 are extremely valid.
Glen Johnson, Liverpool
Johnson has carved out a role as Roy Hodgson's first-choice right-back and only missed the final two qualifiers due to injury. He's hit form this season at Anfield and seems to have moved away from his dodgy performances in a Three Lions shirt in the past.
Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur
There are other right-backs that some may feel are more deserving of a spot in the England team than Kyle Walker due to his rather incomplete skill set right now, but playing regularly for a side challenging for the top four will get you to Brazil this summer.
Phil Jagielka, Everton
Jagielka is probably England's best central defender following the international retirements of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand, and he's a very underrated player. He's started the season superbly with Everton and will benefit from Roberto Martinez's pass-first style of play.
Gary Cahill, Chelsea
Cahill is a strong defender, aerially supreme and very solid on the ground. For some reason he doesn't get the credit he deserves from many fans, as you'd expect a slightly more welcoming approach to a player who's actually won the UEFA Champions League.
Chris Smalling, Manchester United
The ability to play in different positions can get you on the plane, and that could well play into Smalling's favour. He can cameo at right-back despite standing as a tall, bruising centre-back, and has more experience than most other centre-backs available for selection.
Phil Jones, Manchester United
It's a worry when the Man Utd reserves are key figures in the England squad, and Hodgson will be hoping Jones breaks into David Moyes' setup this season as a central defender. He, too, can cameo in a defensive midfield position, and that all but ensures his spot on the plane.
Steven Gerrard (c), Liverpool
Captain fantastic Gerrard is Roy Hodgson's go-to guy, and he's moulded his 4-3-3 formation around the Liverpool midfielder to ensure he can dictate play and have a constant effect on the game. It will be his final World Cup and his second as captain, so he'll wear the shirt with pride.
Frank Lampard, Chelsea
Lampard is at risk of losing his spot in the England squad given his reduced influence on the team, and for some fans he doesn't warrant a seat on the plane. We think he'll go, as Hodgson loves a safe and experienced bet, and at the end of the day he's still a very talented player.
Michael Carrick, Manchester United
Hodgson has been taking a lot of flack on Twitter for not using Michael Carrick, but he started him against Poland and reaped the rewards. The former Tottenham man is by far the best keep-ball midfielder England have at their disposal and could play a crucial role in Brazil.
Ross Barkley, Everton
If Barkley continues his exponential growth this season, there's no way Hodgson can leave him out of the 23-man setup. He's physical, technical, fast and uncompromising in his defensive work; the complete midfielder.
Jack Wilshere, Arsenal
The battle to start in the midfield three is heating up, and with Carrick emerging, Wilshere could falter. It's clear Hodgson trusts him and will want to involve him, but who will it be at the expense of?
Walcott has a guaranteed seat on the plane under Roy Hodgson, as the manager gravitates toward those he's trusted before at international tournaments. Walcott has the ability to light up a game and win it single-handedly; he could also do the opposite.
Andros Townsend, Tottenham Hotspur
The emergence of Townsend has been astonishing, and in the space of just two games he's made himself the firm fans' favourite to start for Hodgson on the right—in place of Walcott. The fact that he's stepped up in such an obvious, game-breaking way in such important circumstances has produced no end of hyperbolic praise.
James Milner, Manchester City
Milner, regarded as the "safe" and "cautious" option, will be on this plane whether you like it or not. He may not serve the most obvious purpose or do anything particularly special on the flanks, but this is England and this is Roy Hodgson. Milner is going to Brazil.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Rooney, yet to score a goal at any World Cup finals, will be one of the first names on the team sheet for Roy Hodgson. He's linking up extremely well with the players around him and has a habit of scoring clutch goals.
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool
Sturridge, with just eight caps under his belt, has gone from peripheral figure to key starter in the space of about 10 weeks thanks to his brilliant form for Liverpool. He's the player who can produce something out of nothing, and every England fan should be hoping he continues his brilliant form for the Reds this season.
Danny Welbeck, Manchester United
Welbeck has a wonderful understanding with Rooney and can fulfill a number of different roles for Hodgson. That versatility will guarantee him a spot even if he's not starting all the time for David Moyes.
The hype around Lambert has slowed, but he's still a better, more technical option than Andy Carroll. It wouldn't be a World Cup without a big target man in the England ranks, and Lambert seems more likely to go than his West Ham rival.