FIFA World Cup

Predicting the England Squad 60 Days from the 2014 World Cup

Dan SheridanContributor IApril 12, 2014

Predicting the England Squad 60 Days from the 2014 World Cup

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    England boss Roy Hodgson
    England boss Roy HodgsonRichard Heathcote/Getty Images

    The wait for football’s biggest competition is almost over. After years of planning and anticipation, there are now just 60 days until the 2014 World Cup kicks off in Brazil. 

    For England and manager Roy Hodgson, the preparations are almost complete, but the most important task of all awaits the 66-year-old over the coming weeks as he prepares to name his squad.

    Some names are nailed-on certainties, while others will live in hope of a place in the provisional 30-man party that will be whittled down to 23 at the start of June.

    So, as nails are bitten and players wait to see if they have a seat on the plane, Bleacher Report predicts the Three Lions squad that could be Brazil-bound ahead of their opener against Italy.

Joe Hart

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    POSITION: Goalkeeper

    AGE: 26

    CLUB: Manchester City

     

    The World Cup is probably the last thing on Joe Hart’s mind at the moment, with his Manchester City side in the thick of the Premier League title race.

    But once the final whistle has blown on the domestic season in England, the 26-year-old’s name will be one of the first on Roy Hodgson’s roster for the trip to Brazil.

    The former Shrewsbury Town stopper has suffered his fair share of criticism over the past campaign, but once he won his place back at the Etihad Stadium, his intentions became crystal clear.

    And, after travelling to South Africa for the 2010 tournament without making a single appearance, he will be determined to make up for lost time between the posts this summer.

Fraser Forster

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    POSITION: Goalkeeper 

    AGE: 26

    CLUB: Celtic

     

    After a record-breaking campaign north of the border with Celtic, Fraser Forster is ready to take his game to the next level, and he'll be hoping that Brazil 2014 gives him that chance.

    The towering Geordie has already won plaudits for his eye-catching displays in the Champions League, while domestically he holds the Scottish Premier League record of playing 1,256 minutes without conceding a goal.

    Though he’ll likely play second fiddle to Joe Hart in South America, the 26-year-old is tipped for a big-money switch this summer, as reported by the Daily Mail’s Mark Wilson.

    And, after being dubbed ‘la gran muralla’ (the great wall) by the Spanish press following a monumental performance against Barcelona last season, he knows all about playing on the big stage.

Ben Foster

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    Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

    POSITION: Goalkeeper 

    AGE: 31

    CLUB: West Bromwich Albion

     

    In the race to become England’s third-choice stopper in Brazil this summer, West Bromwich Albion’s Ben Foster will almost certainly get the nod over John Ruddy of Norwich City.

    Though both clubs are currently embroiled in a relegation battle in the Premier League, Foster is the more experienced of the two, and that should stand him in good stead.

    With six caps to his name, the 31-year-old is a reliable pair of hands and has seen off the likes of David James and Robert Green since making his international debut in 2007.

    While it’s debatable whether the former Manchester United man will get any minutes at the tournament, it will give Roy Hodgson and Co. enormous peace of mind knowing he’s around.

Glen Johnson

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    POSITION: Right-Back 

    AGE: 29

    CLUB: Liverpool

     

    This could be the season to end all seasons for Glen Johnson, and if Liverpool manage to hang on to top spot in the Premier League, Brazil will be the icing on a very sweet-tasting cake.

    The former Chelsea defender survived a scare earlier this year when a combination of injuries threatened to derail his campaign, but the 29-year-old has come back with flying colours.

    Since returning to the starting XI, Johnson has played in Liverpool’s last seven games without incident, and a similar, continued run will see him start as England’s chief right-back in Brazil.

    With 50 caps under his belt, he started all four of England’s fixtures at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and will be aiming higher at this summer’s tournament.

Kyle Walker

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    POSITION: Right-Back 

    AGE: 23

    CLUB: Tottenham Hotspur

     

    The role of Glen Johnson’s understudy may be the best Kyle Walker can hope for this summer, but—for now—the 23-year-old will happily play the part if it reserves him a seat on the flight to Brazil.

    Currently sidelined with a groin injury, but due back this weekend, the Sheffield-born right-back is expected to be fighting fit in time for Roy Hodgson’s initial squad announcement next month.

    And, given that he’s earned 10 caps since making his international debut against Spain in 2011, Walker is in a good position to add to that tally in the warm-ups, if not at the tournament itself.

    He was a virtual ever-present for Tottenham Hotspur this term until injury struck in mid-February, and will provide reliable cover if and when he’s needed.

Gary Cahill

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    POSITION: Centre-Back 

    AGE: 28

    CLUB: Chelsea

     

    As dependable as they come, Gary Cahill has missed just seven of Chelsea’s 33 Premier League fixtures this season and marshalled the division’s meanest defence in the process.

    His steadfast influence will be crucial to England’s hopes in Brazil, and will almost certainly mean a starting place for the former Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers defender.

    With 22 appearances for his country, the 28-year-old is no stranger to playing at the highest level, but Brazil will be his first experience of a World Cup finals.

    However, having played under Jose Mourinho this term and enjoyed a run to the semi-finals of the Champions League, the centre-back is sure to take it all in his stride.

Chris Smalling

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    POSITION: Centre-Back

    AGE: 24

    CLUB: Manchester United

     

    Chris Smalling has amassed 10 England caps since making his international bow in 2011 and is very much part of Roy Hodgson’s long-term plans.

    As such, the former Fulham defender is highly likely to make it to Brazil, even if it means playing second fiddle to the likes of Gary Cahill for now.

    In what has been a mixed campaign at Manchester United, the 24-year-old returned to David Moyes’ side for the recent 4-0 win over Newcastle, and is hoping to stay in situ between now and May.

    And having featured for his country six times last year, his name is sure to feature on Hodgson’s list of 23 in June.

Phil Jagielka

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    POSITION: Centre-Back 

    AGE: 31

    CLUB: Everton

     

    Currently missing from Everton’s starting XI thanks to a hamstring injury, Phil Jagielka will be determined to prove his fitness when he makes his comeback next week.

    If there are no repercussions when he takes to the field for the first time since late February, he’ll almost certainly be at the forefront of Roy Hodgson’s mind ahead of Brazil.

    Despite making his England debut in 2008, the 31-year-old missed out on a place for the World Cup in South Africa two years later, but he should enjoy better luck this time.

    The former Sheffield United defender has helped push Everton to the brink of a Champions League spot, and the Toffees' captain is an integral figure at Goodison Park—both on the pitch and in the dressing room.

Phil Jones

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    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    POSITION: Centre-Back/Defensive Midfielder

    AGE: 22

    CLUB: Manchester United

     

    With little in the way of versatility at the back, Phil Jones will be a welcome addition for England and could be put to good use from the bench as the tournament progresses.

    The 22-year-old is equally at home at right-back as well as his favoured spot in the centre of defence, and he can even operate as a holding midfielder should the need arise.

    Over their last 12 league games, Jones has completed eight 90-minute shifts for Manchester United and is fast becoming an important player under David Moyes.

    If he continues to display such consistency, it’ll be hard for Roy Hodgson to ignore the former Blackburn Rovers man, who has nine England caps to his name.

Leighton Baines

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    POSITION: Left-Back

    AGE: 29

    CLUB: Everton

     

    In a department where England are particularly well stocked, it's hard to envisage anyone other than Leighton Baines being handed the number three shirt in Brazil.

    His delivery from wide areas and accuracy with the goal in sight from free-kicks will be a huge plus—as will his reliability from the penalty spot when the dreaded shootout inevitably happens.

    Aside from a six-game absence in December, the left-back has been a Premier League ever-present for Everton this term and is one of the most naturally gifted defenders in the division.

    Having made the provisional 30-man squad for South Africa in 2010, only to miss out to Stephen Warnock, the 29-year-old has a point to prove some four years on.

Ashley Cole

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    POSITION: Left-Back

    AGE: 33

    CLUB: Chelsea

     

    One of the most fascinating aspects of England's squad announcement will centre on the second left-back slot, and the direct competition between Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw.

    At 33 and with over 100 caps, Cole’s experience should just about give him the edge, but it is without doubt one of the most debated positions ahead of this summer’s finals.

    Shaw, who has been a revelation at Southampton this season, is tipped by many to be an England regular for years to come, and at just 18 years old he has more than enough time on his hands.

    For Cole, however, this will almost certainly be his last World Cup, and for that reason alone, Roy Hodgson could well give the Chelsea man one last hurrah on the big stage.

Steven Gerrard

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    POSITION: Central Midfield

    AGE: 33

    CLUB: Liverpool

     

    In a season that has seen Steven Gerrard reinvent the phrase "driving force" in the heart of Liverpool's midfield, England will be hoping some of their captain’s magic rubs off on them this summer. 

    In a slightly withdrawn role in the middle of the park, the 33-year-old has pulled the strings for the Reds this term and would love nothing more than to win his first title at Anfield.

    His calmness under pressure and assuredness from the penalty spot could come in particularly handy in Brazil, as will his pinpoint passing attributes and leadership.

    In short, much of what England achieve at this year’s World Cup will be down to Gerrard, and in what will be his last World Cup, he’ll want to go out on a high.

Frank Lampard

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    POSITION: Central Midfield

    AGE: 35

    CLUB: Chelsea

     

    As is the case for Steven Gerrard, Brazil 2014 will be Frank Lampard’s last appearance on the biggest stage of all, and the influential midfielder will be dead set on success.

    His infamous "goal that never was" against Germany in 2010 is a ghost that needs exorcising in the Chelsea man’s eyes, and few would bet against him laying those demons to rest.

    With 103 caps for his country, the former West Ham United man is ideally placed to guide many of the squad’s youngsters through their first World Cup while influencing play at the same time.

    This summer will be Lampard’s fourth major tournament with England, and as his country’s most prolific penalty taker, what price the 35-year-old notching a couple more for old time’s sake?

Jack Wilshere

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    POSITION: Central Midfield

    AGE: 22

    CLUB: Arsenal

     

    A fractured foot has kept Jack Wilshere out of Arsenal’s last five league games as their title chase has strayed off course, but a return in the next week or so should see him fit for World Cup duty.

    The 22-year-old has been shifted around by the Gunners this term to accommodate absences in other areas, and suffered his latest setback while on international duty against Denmark.

    With 15 caps so far, however, the midfielder is in line to represent his country at a major tournament for the very first time, having missed Euro 2012 through injury.

    Competition in the middle will be fierce, but Roy Hodgson is an admirer of Wilshere, and inclusion will indicate his place in the manager’s long-term plans.

Jordan Henderson

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    POSITION: Central Midfield

    AGE: 23

    CLUB: Liverpool

     

    Having come in for fierce criticism following his big money move from Sunderland, Jordan Henderson’s Liverpool career is finally blossoming, and he could be rewarded with the ultimate call-up.

    Starring alongside Steven Gerrard in the Reds’ midfield, theirs is a partnership that could reap rewards for England in Brazil should Roy Hodgson hand them the opportunity.

    An athletic, versatile player, Henderson has been pivotal to his club’s success this term and has featured in every one Liverpool’s 33 Premier League games so far.

    As one of the top flight’s best performers this season, such consistency will surely be recognised by Hodgson as he mulls over his options ahead of the June deadline.

Adam Lallana

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    POSITION: Winger/Attacking Midfield

    AGE: 25

    CLUB: Southampton

     

    Another player who has featured in every one of his club’s Premier League games this season, Adam Lallana has been a breath of fresh air in the red of Southampton.

    His craft and creativity have elevated him to the England set-up, and the 25-year-old has looked completely at home in his international run outs so far against Chile, Germany and Denmark.

    An inventive force out wide as well as through the middle, the former Bournemouth loanee set up the winner for Daniel Sturridge against the Danes last month and earned rave reviews.

    The Three Lions have not had a player with Lallana’s subtleties for quite some time, and a place in the squad for Brazil could see his burgeoning reputation rise even further.

Raheem Sterling

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    Alastair Grant

    POSITION: Winger

    AGE: 19

    CLUB: Liverpool

     

    With Steven Gerrard in the centre of midfield, Roy Hodgson will need pace to compliment his captain's guile, and he needn't look any further than his Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling.

    At just 19 years old, the fearless winger would bring an air of excitement to England’s play, and he is not afraid to run at the opposition and cut inside to good effect.

    His involvement at Anfield over the past five months has coincided with his club’s rise to the top of the Premier League table, and his eye for goal won’t have gone unnoticed.

    With just two England caps to his name, some would suggest the Jamaican-born youngster is too inexperienced for the world stage, but followers of Liverpool would beg to differ.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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    Matt Dunham

    POSITION: Winger/Attacking Midfield 

    AGE: 20

    CLUB: Arsenal

     

    In a season ravaged by injury, some might say Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hasn’t done enough to earn a seat on the flight to Brazil, but he remains a genuine game-changer.

    Having missed the entire first–half of Arsenal’s campaign, Gunners fans have only been treated to fleeting glimpses of the 20-year-old this term and just two 90-minute appearances.

    Thanks to cameos from the bench, however, the former Southampton playmaker—who gained tournament experience at Euro 2012—is working his way back to full fitness, and his timing couldn’t be better.

    Arsene Wenger’s men have five league games to play, plus a potential double-header at Wembley in the FA Cup. Should Oxlade-Chamberlain come through the next few weeks unscathed, Roy Hodgson will find it hard to ignore him.

Ross Barkley

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    Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

    POSITION: Attacking Midfield

    AGE: 20

    CLUB: Everton

     

    When Ross Barkley waltzed through half of Newcastle United’s team to score a stunning solo effort recently, there was an unavoidable air surrounding the inevitable comparisons. 

    When placed in an England context—and in a World Cup year at that—his resemblance to a certain Paul Gascoigne takes on a whole new meaning.

    What Barkley possesses is exactly the kind of thing opponents fear—a dash of the unexpected coupled with a complete lack of fear or consequence. Rare commodities indeed.

    Roy Hodgson has a secret weapon on his hands, and if unleashed at the right time the 20-year-old could have a similar impact to Gazza at Italia 90 or Michael Owen at France 98.

Danny Welbeck

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    POSITION: Striker

    AGE: 23

    CLUB: Manchester United

     

    Like many Manchester United players this term, it’s been a patchy campaign for Danny Welbeck, but there’s no denying his quality in the final third. 

    With other forwards knocking on the door, the 23-year-old’s place in Roy Hodgson’s squad is far from assured, and all eyes will be on the likes of Andy Carroll over the next few weeks.

    But Welbeck does have Premier League goals on his side, and his eight strikes in 21 international appearances stand him in good stead with the England boss.

    He may not be an orthodox, out-and-out striker, but his pace—not to mention his goalscoring feat at Euro 2012—could make Welbeck a useful commodity in Brazil.

Rickie Lambert

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    POSITION: Striker 

    AGE: 32

    CLUB: Southampton

     

    With three goals in his last four Premier League games, Southampton striker Rickie Lambert is a man in form at the moment, and that’s exactly what England need.

    His unlikely rise to international recognition has come via spells at the likes of Stockport County, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers, and the feeling in football is that the 32-year-old has earned his chance.

    But this is not a sentimental acknowledgement—far from it. As well as his exploits with the Saints, Lambert has already proved himself under Roy Hodgson, with two goals in four appearances.

    In the best sense of the word, he is perhaps England’s most traditional centre-forward, and that is something that can work in his favour when things start to heat up in Brazil.

Wayne Rooney

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    POSITION: Striker

    AGE: 28

    CLUB: Manchester United

     

    Wayne Rooney knows a thing or two about high-profile fixtures, and Roy Hodgson may look to the 28-year-old to steer some of his younger players in the right direction. 

    As has been the case in previous competitions, the hopes of many England fans will rest on the Manchester United forward’s shoulders, but there is enough quality to share the burden this time around.

    With 15 Premier League goals to his name this term, the former Everton man has looked dangerous all season, even when those around him have struggled for form.

    And, should the mood take him, Brazil 2014 could turn out to be Rooney’s most influential tournament in an England shirt to date.

Daniel Sturridge

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    POSITION: Striker 

    AGE: 24

    CLUB: Liverpool

     

    Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge is having the season of his life in the run up to Brazil 2014, and Roy Hodgson hopes his hot streak continues well beyond May.

    With 20 top-flight goals, the striker is the Premier League’s highest-scoring Englishman, and he also netted for his country in their one and only fixture this year against Denmark.

    His partnership with Uruguayan Luis Suarez, who will come up against England in their second group game, has been nothing short of breathtaking and could yet fire the Reds to their first title since 1990.

    Such an achievement would give Sturridge a huge confidence boost, along with the rest of the Anfield contingent, and Hodgson could be the main beneficiary of some fortuitous self-belief.

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