World Cup 2014: Latest Projections for Roy Hodgson's England Squad

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World Cup 2014: Latest Projections for Roy Hodgson's England Squad
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Who will make it into Roy Hodgson's 23-man World Cup squad?

The England World Cup squad and manager Roy Hodgson have just 52 days to wait until proceedings get under way in Brazil.

In all likelihood Hodgson will have gone against the grain of previous England managers and will be picking on merit rather than out of misguided loyalty.

According to Sky Sports, Hodgson recently noted:

The pressure does get greater now and I think people will have to accept that it is my job to pick the best 23, and I have to do it on the merits of the players.

It's not like it has been in the past sometimes where loyalty can be rewarded.

Under normal circumstances, the squad will have been bedded down and the majority of personnel chosen for the tournament far in advance of the cutoff date, with perhaps a space or two kept free in case of unforeseen injuries and/or an individual making a late claim.

Hodgson's selection process is therefore refreshing and sensible.

With Liverpool enjoying a remarkable end to the season, Brendan Rodgers' English contingent are buoyant, and that confidence is not lost on record cap-holder Peter Shilton, who told Associated Press Sport via Mark Bryans of The Independent:

If Liverpool go on and win the league those players will be full of confidence and belief and that is a big thing.

[...] It could be very beneficial to have five Liverpool players in there but by the same token he has got to pick his best players, that is the most important thing.

If he thinks someone is better than the Liverpool players he will pick them in that position.

One Merseysider who would have appeared to have forced his way into Hodgson's thoughts after a string of top-class performances is Everton's 20-year-old Ross Barkley.

Despite a recent injury, Barkley is likely to be in peak fitness and ready to travel if required, and if the following picture from Matt Lawson's report in the Daily Mail is anything to go by, then Barkley is a dead-cert to be on the plane:

Whilst West Ham's Andy Carroll has had a stop-start season, there is little doubting his physical presence and the outlet he can provide for Hodgson up front—especially in Manaus, where the heat and humidity will be stifling and players will not be happy at having to run all game long.

A more industrial way of playing might be required to get the result against Italy.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
If England decide to go "Route One," there aren't many finer exponents than West Ham's Andy Carroll.

There aren't really too many players in the Premier League who are better at holding up the ball and bringing others into play than the Geordie, and a robust presence in the attacking areas could be just what's required to unsettle the opposition.

Winning one-off tournaments is all about playing to your strengths. With Carroll in-situ, it might not be pretty, but you can mortgage your house on the fact that it will be effective.

If Hodgson remains true to his word, then Southampton's Luke Shaw must now be taken ahead of Chelsea's Ashley Cole.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Luke Shaw continues to enjoy an excellent season for Southampton.

Per WhoScored.com, the latter has only featured on 17 occasions (two as sub) for the Blues this season, through a mixture of injury and loss of form. Jose Mourinho has even turned to a right-back, Cesar Azpilicueta, to fill Cole's shoes at Stamford Bridge.

Shaw by contrast has been one of the mainstays of Mauricio Pochettino's side, who have seduced everyone with their brand of free-flowing and technically excellent football, the Daily Mail's Mike Anstead included:

With 31 appearances per WhoScored, Shaw has been considerably more active than Cole and has 15 years on his contemporary.

His performances have forced the England manager to sit up and take notice, and he hasn't arrived at national team level by accident.

If Hodgson's legacy is to genuinely build for the future, regardless of England's progression in this particular tournament, then there is little point in essentially wasting a squad place on the likes of Ashley Cole.

Regardless of who makes the final cut, it's hard to judge how well the England team will do in Brazil, but with world-class talents such as Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney available to Hodgson, it's entirely plausible that with a little bit of luck and belief, England could surprise a lot of people.

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