5 Uncapped Players England Could Have Considered for World Cup Duty
When the England squad for this summer's World Cup in Brazil was announced, many were surprised by the focus on youth. The days of the same old faces clogging up the 23-man squad were over. This was largely a fresh and exciting group of players placed alongside a few experienced ones, with pace and attacking capability throughout the selection.
After the "Golden Generation" failed to deliver success, it's time for a new era to be ushered in, and credit to Roy Hodgson for pressing the refresh button and looking to move England on.
There were other potential candidates, too, many of whom were uncapped but capable of adding quality to England's options. Here are five players who had excellent Premier League campaigns, yet just missed out on selection for the World Cup.
1. Curtis Davies
What a season Curtis Davies had. The 29-year-old Hull captain was in stunning form all season, leading his side to an FA Cup final and a 14th-place finish.
With England's strength at centre-back not what it once was, Davies can feel unlucky to have not made the cut. Whilst Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are all good players, none can have considered themselves certainties for the squad. In fact, of all the centre-backs available to Hodgson, only Gary Cahill, whose form for Chelsea was excellent, was truly sure of a place long before the squad was announced.
Given his advancing years, Davies may feel this was his best chance of making an England squad for a major tournament.
2. Fabian Delph
Aston Villa's struggles this season adversely affected many players in their squad, but one who continued to show what he is capable of was Fabian Delph.
The 24-year-old midfielder was highly rated when he moved to Villa Park from Leeds back in 2009, but he initially flattered to deceive. This season, though, his neat and tidy game saw him praised across the board, and his ability in possession of the ball may well have suited Hodgson's style.
His defensive attributes would also have benefited the England team. He's strong in the tackle and produces vital interceptions, making him arguably a more suitable candidate for the deep-lying, defensive-midfield role alongside Steven Gerrard than Frank Lampard. However, Lampard's experience in major tournaments and ability to score vital goals saw him given the nod.
3. Nathaniel Clyne
Nathaniel Clyne continues to impress for Southampton, and he can consider himself somewhat unlucky not to be joining teammates Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana in Brazil, particularly given England's weakness at right-back.
Glen Johnson's form is a worry, with Hodgson even trying James Milner in that role in the recent friendly with Ecuador in what felt like an audition for a place in the side.
Clyne has shown he is a very capable Premier League defender and must surely have been in Hodgson's thoughts for selection.
4. James Tomkins
West Ham's James Tomkins was another who performed excellently throughout the last campaign, consistently the Hammers' best player.
The 25-year-old is developing rather nicely, his aerial ability and reading of the game improving all the time, but he didn't do quite enough to make this squad.
He has time on his side, though, and he could well force his way into Hodgson's thinking for Euro 2016 qualification.
5. Joel Ward
The miraculous season Crystal Palace have just had can be summed up by one player: Joel Ward.
Ward is a full-back capable of operating on either side, exactly the kind of flexibility needed in a 23-man squad for a major tournament. At 24 and with just one season in the Premier League to his name, his relative inexperience has probably counted against him.
However, Hodgson will no doubt be watching his progress closely when the World Cup is over.
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