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Picking England's World Cup Squad: Shaw & Lallana Must Start, Lampard Misses out

Stan CollymoreFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014

Picking England's World Cup Squad: Shaw & Lallana Must Start, Lampard Misses out

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    England's friendly with Denmark on Wednesday was the last opportunity Roy Hodgson had to experiment with his players before he selects his preliminary squad for the World Cup squad in May.

    Some players saw their stock rise, others saw their chances of being on the plane to Brazil this summer diminished.

    With that in mind, here's the 23-man squad I would take to the tournament. There are a few surprises in there...

The Goalkeepers: The Easiest Choices

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Joe Hart is the clear No. 1, so he picks himself if he is fit and in form.

    Ben Foster seems to have come out of international retirement solely because of his relationship with Roy Hodgson from West Brom, while Fraser Forster should also be included because of his big-game experience with Celtic in the Champions League. 

    I've no problems at all with the likes of John Ruddy and Jack Butland, but I'd be very comfortable with those three going into the tournament.

    I take on board that Butland is one for the future and that you could take him along as the third goalkeeper for the experience, but he has plenty of time to play internationals in his career—and none of the three ahead of him are exactly old by goalkeeping standards anyway.

     

    The choices

    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Ben Foster, Fraser Forster

The Full-Backs: Luke Shaw Should Go…and Start

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    The two right-backs are also fairly straightforward: Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker. They are the two men who have shared the shirt in recent months and I don't think any others are going to come into Roy Hodgson's thinking between now and the summer.

    At left-back, though, it is very difficult. For me, though, not only would Luke Shaw go to the World Cup, but he would start games. I think he is that good. He's had a fine season, he's very solid defensively and he has bundles of energy and character—which will all be very important in Brazil.

    He's playing well and often for a good Southampton side, which is also important.

    I don't buy the idea that Leighton Baines should play ahead of Shaw just because he's been around longer, but while Ashley Cole did well against Denmark, I would still pick the Everton man over the veteran as the deputy. There is nothing more we can learn about Cole, and he is unlikely to be at the top of his game by the next international tournament, so I think—like all good things—his time has come to an end.

    Shaw would go as my starting left-back and I have absolutely no hesitation about that. I just think a player occasionally comes along where you don't look at their age but at their ability, at what they are doing on the pitch.

    Michael Owen was 18 when he made his breakthrough for England, and Shaw is similar in some ways.

    I would be happy to play any of those three left-backs, but for me it was a poignant passing of the baton from Cole to Shaw on Wednesday. Get Shaw in the squad, get him playing and we have a cracking left-back for the next 10 or 15 years.

     

    The choices

    Right-backs: Glen Johnson, Kyle Walker

    Left-backs: Luke Shaw, Leighton Baines

The Centre-Backs: A Settled Starting Pair, Back-Ups with Versatility

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Two straightforward first-choice options here—Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka. They've played the majority of the qualification games and, if they are fit, no-one is going to replace them as the starting duo.

    Behind them, two players who could also perform utility roles in defence and midfield. Phil Jones can play right-back, centre-back and holding midfielder, while Chris Smalling can play centre-back and full-back.

    That versatility is useful, and I think that is why they go to the tournament ahead of the likes of Joleon Lescott or Steven Caulker—not because they are currently playing any better than any other centre-half at the minute.

     

    The choices

    Centre-backs: Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling

The Midfielders: Wilshere a Certainty If He Is Fit

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere are both the most obvious inclusions. Wilshere still has plenty to prove after being ruled out for six weeks, but I would anticipate him being fit and thus being included.

    Indeed, the injury might be a blessing in disguise in a way, in terms of having a little rest from playing football for a few weeks—although it will remain an ongoing injury concern for both club and country.

    I'd also go with Jordan Henderson, who I think is going to have a cracking end to the season at Liverpool—and I think he deserves his place as a squad member, although not necessarily as a starter.

    Another youngster I would have is Ross Barkley, who I'd probably take instead of Frank Lampard.

    Arguably, if Lampard is not going to start many games and you are going to be looking at players who can come off the bench and make a difference, then why not go with Barkley? He's got creativity, mobility and has shown he can score goals (although perhaps not quite as prolifically as Lampard once did).

    Versatility is a key reason why I would take James Milner, as he can play anywhere across midfield and also even at right-back in a pinch.

    Then it's a case of two from three among Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling.

    If the tournament was today, then I think Sterling would probably go, but I've got a sneaky feeling that Roy Hodgson will want a bit more beef and physical directness—which would lead him to taking Townsend and Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    Having said that, a lot will depend on how they finish the season with their respective clubs, and they can all force themselves into the reckoning or play themselves out of contention over the next two months.

    That leaves one final space, which goes to Adam Lallana. I first saw him in 2008 playing in the Championship, when he came on as a substitute and scored a great goal. He was clearly a clever player then and he has developed his game gradually ever since.

    He understands the football pitch and its dimensions, and he knows his capabilities. When he came on against Brazil, he made an immediate impact. For me, he would even start in midfield—alongside Gerrard and Wilshere.

    Last time we played very well in a home friendly, it was against Brazil, with Gerrard, Wilshere and Tom Cleverley orchestrating things from midfield. I would now have Lallana in there instead of Cleverley. I think his obvious desire to represent England, something unfortunately not all modern players have, would also be a real asset.

     

    The choices

    Midfielders: Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend, Adam Lallana

The Forwards: Sturridge Increasingly the Main Man, Not Rooney

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Wayne Rooney obviously has to go, although I think we are getting to the stage in his England career where we have to question whether he really warrants a starting role—but I don't think that will happen this summer because he remains one of the few players branded "world-class" that we can still call upon.

    With that in mind, Roy Hodgson is going to pick him, even if he goes to Brazil with a limp and a metatarsal injury.

    But I think there are other players who, in pure form terms for England, could warrant playing instead of him. That might include Daniel Sturridge, who is more of a fox in the box. I was disappointed to see him play wide right against Denmark and I'm not sure that is the best way to use him. I think he needs to play in his own position.

    Danny Welbeck also gets the nod for me because of his durability. Against Denmark, we had a situation where Nicklas Bendtner had a far better international goalscoring record than club scoring record, and I think we might see that replicated by Welbeck over time. He can play wide left of a three, he works hard for the team and is good in the air and defensively—which is valuable in its own way.

    That leaves a toss-up between two players who, if they are at their best, give England a different dimension, Rickie Lambert and Andy Carroll. Lambert is a good player who really wants to play for England, but I think Carroll, who has struggled with injuries, is rated highly by Hodgson and will go if he plays the final 10 games of the season for West Ham.

    Carroll is a viable outlet and could be a nightmare for defenders.

    That means no Jermain Defoe, but I think he was destined to miss out even if he had not moved to Toronto. Holding up the ball is going to be key in Brazil and Defoe is obviously not the man for that—while he hasn't proven recently that he still has the ability to grab a goal off the bench when required.

     

    The choices

    Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll

The Final Squad

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    So here's my 23-man squad:

    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Ben Foster, Fraser Forster

    Defenders: Glen Johnson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Luke Shaw, Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines

    Midfielders: Steven Gerrard, Jack Wilshere, Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andros Townsend, Ross Barkley

    Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll 

    I would have no qualms at all about not just including Lallana and Shaw but starting them in the group games as well. They have shown in their performances for Southampton that they are up to the task.

    The thing that goes in England's favour, particularly in midfield, is that a lot of players are very young and are likely to be more durable and energetic—something that will help in the hot conditions they are likely to experience in Brazil.

     

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