Ranking the England Players on Their World Cup Group Stage Performances

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2014

Ranking the England Players on Their World Cup Group Stage Performances

0 of 22

    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Roy Hodgson and his team returned to England this week after being eliminated from Brazil 2014 in the group stages.

    It marks the Three Lions' worst-ever performance at a World Cup, leaving South America without a win to their name and finishing bottom of Group D.

    The England team has since come in for plenty of criticism, with stars such as Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard targeted for under performing.

    But who was England's best and worst player at the World Cup?

    Bleacher Report ranks the performances of all 23 players.

Honorable Mentions

1 of 22

    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    Roy Hodgson made full use of his England squad at the World Cup, fielding 21 of the 23 players who traveled to Brazil.

    The two who didn't manage any game time were goalkeeper Fraser Forster and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    Forster was third-choice goalkeeper behind Joe Hart and Ben Foster, so would have been expecting limited opportunities.

    Oxlade-Chamberlain will be more disappointed he didn't appear, though, with injury preventing him from making an impact.

    Had the Arsenal youngster not suffered a knee injury in the build-up to the World Cup, there's no doubt he would have featured for Hodgson's team.

21. Rickie Lambert

2 of 22

    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    An 87th-minute substitute against Uruguay with England chasing the game, Rickie Lambert featured for just seven minutes in the World Cup.

    After the career he's had, rising through the leagues to appear on the biggest stage, he can take pride in getting that far.

    He would have wanted to play a much bigger role, though.

20. Chris Smalling

3 of 22

    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    He didn't do much wrong in his one World Cup performance against Costa Rica, but Chris Smalling had the posture of a man not quite at ease with representing his country at the highest level, even though the game was a dead rubber.

    Smalling looked nervous in possession and seemed to cause an air of anxiety among his teammates with his slack passing ability.

    The Manchester United man needs to improve dramatically if he is to become a regular with England, and based on his World Cup display, that doesn't look likely to happen.

19. Phil Jones

4 of 22

    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    It's perhaps harsh to be overly critical of Phil Jones on his sole World Cup performance against Costa Rica, given the fact he was played out of position at right-back.

    The Manchester United defender is best suited to playing in the centre, but as he continues to find for club and country, he is often sacrificed to fill in elsewhere.

    He needs to address it soon otherwise his opportunities of becoming a regular will reduce significantly.

    Jones looked out of sorts against Costa Rica, offering little going forward, while he was exposed at times on the flanks, too.

    He would have wanted a far better showing on his World Cup debut.

18. Glen Johnson

5 of 22

    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Glen Johnson continues to frustrate after another poor display for England at a major tournament.

    The Liverpool right-back is not only poor defensively, going forward he offers little, too.

    Johnson seems to get himself into good positions, but finds himself unable to decide how best to use possession, often supplying poorly executed crosses or passes to his teammates.

    He assisted Wayne Rooney's equalizer against Uruguay, but offered very little else.

    Right-back is a major concern for England moving forward and on the back of Johnson's 2014 World Cup, it's clear Roy Hodgson needs to find an alternative—and quick.

17. Phil Jagielka

6 of 22

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The debate ahead of the World Cup was whether or not Roy Hodgson should have persuaded John Terry out of retirement to represent his country one more time on the biggest stage.

    It was viewed England would come unstuck defensively without the Chelsea captain and so it proved, with Italy and Uruguay unlocking the backline to make the most of some poor decisions.

    Phil Jagielka was most guilty, especially for his role in Luis Suarez's winner in the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay, being caught out of position as Gary Cahill tried in vain to cover.

    Jagielka is an accomplished defender, showing that much for Everton over the years. Brazil 2014 wasn't his proudest moment, though, and at 31, it's unlikely we'll see him at a World Cup again.

    For all that passed, Hodgson's decision to not approach Terry was the correct one. It would have undermined everything he was hoping to achieve, regardless of the problems England experienced at the back.

16. James Milner

7 of 22

    Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

    England's utility man, James Milner was given his World Cup chance in the dead rubber against Costa Rica.

    Lacking the dynamism to make a difference, his presence showed just how positive the early displays of Raheem Sterling and others were.

    Milner is a grafter and warranted his place in the 23-man squad for that reason, but given the holes Italy exposed in the opening game, his attributes may have been more suited to maintaining a rigid structure where England could build.

    He played at right-back against Ecuador in the World Cup warm-up match, which outlines his problem: Milner doesn't have a position in this England team, playing wherever the team may need cover.

15. Ben Foster

8 of 22

    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    A member of the 2010 World Cup squad, Ben Foster finally got his chance to appear at the world's biggest tournament when England faced Costa Rica.

    The game ended goalless, and while England dominated for much of it, whenever he was called into action, Foster showed he was more than capable.

    Foster was also dominant in the box, putting in a solid display that suggests he may be able to push Joe Hart for a starting berth.

14. Steven Gerrard

9 of 22

    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    England's captain, England's leader—we expected so much more from Steven Gerrard.

    Again, on the biggest stage, Gerrard failed to live up to his billing for England, struggling to impose himself in midfield the way we so often see him do for Liverpool.

    Brazil 2014 is potentially Gerrard's swan song in international football, and for that reason alone, he was expected to finally deliver.

13. Jack Wilshere

10 of 22

    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    A substitute against Italy, Jack Wilshere's performance disappointed in the opening game. Against Costa Rica, however, the Arsenal midfielder looked far better, penetrating the opposition with his smart runs and movement.

    Had he not suffered injury in the latter half of the 2013-14 campaign, we may have seen more from Wilshere at this World Cup.

    Aged 22, there's more to come from him, though, and if he can stay fit, Wilshere will be a key member of this England team going forward.

12. Leighton Baines

11 of 22

    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    After such an encouraging campaign last term, Roy Hodgson was right to prefer Leighton Baines over Ashley Cole as his first-choice left-back.

    When England kicked-off their challenge in Brazil, however, Baines seemed to freeze under the spotlight.

    The Everton man was a shadow of what we've come to expect from his Premier League displays, offering little going forward against the Italians, while also being caught out defensively.

    He was notably better against Uruguay, but was outshone by Luke Shaw's performance against Costa Rica.

11. Frank Lampard

12 of 22

    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Given the arm band for England's final game of the World Cup against Costa Rica, Frank Lampard gave a masterclass in midfield play, controlling the middle of the park in the way many had hoped Steven Gerrard would have.

    Lampard's display was excellent in the hole, and had it not been for some wasteful finishing from the forwards, England would have come away comfortable winners.

    The ex-Chelsea man gave England an excellent platform and showed just why he remains highly-rated in world football.

    Had he played more minutes in Brazil, he would have featured higher up our list.

10. Danny Welbeck

13 of 22

    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    He may not have found himself on the scoresheet in Brazil, but Danny Welbeck can still leave South America content with his two performances against Uruguay and Italy.

    The Manchester United forward was part of England's exciting front three behind Daniel Sturridge and offered plenty of threat and endeavour for Roy Hodgson's side.

    He may not as skillful as his more able teammates, but playing slightly out of his more natural central position, he certainly didn't look out of place.

9. Wayne Rooney

14 of 22

    Jon Super/Associated Press

    England fans are desperate for Wayne Rooney to show his best in a major international tournament, and after Brazil 2014, they go home wondering if it will ever happen.

    Now 28, time is running out for Rooney, with Euro 2016 his best opportunity to really deliver for his country.

    Rooney's performance against Uruguay was an improvement to his Italy display, where he was forced to play out wide on the left.

    He's undoubtedly more dangerous and productive through the middle, which is where Roy Hodgson needs to play him if England are going to benefit.

8. Jordan Henderson

15 of 22

    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Playing alongside his club teammate Steven Gerrard in midfield, Jordan Henderson gave a good account of himself in Brazil.

    He's grown in stature over the past 12 months, and if his development continues, with his pace and athleticism he will prove a key figure for club and country in the future.

    England's approach has shifted to using their dynamic players, bringing an exciting brand of football. If it remains so, Henderson will be important in his deep-lying role, penetrating teams from deep.

    Improvements are needed, yet this World Cup was a positive for his England career.

7. Joe Hart

16 of 22

    Jon Super/Associated Press

    For once, it wasn't goalkeeper errors that were the topic of discussion after England's failure at the World Cup.

    Those issues came elsewhere, but Joe Hart was solid in goal and proved a safe pair of hands.

    The Manchester City man is a talented goalkeeper and after a blip in his career, looks ready to earn his place among the world's leading players in his position.

    His passion and determination mark him out as a future England captain.

6. Gary Cahill

17 of 22

    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Since joining Chelsea in January 2012, Gary Cahill has gone on to become England's stand-out defender.

    He would have hoped for England to be more solid at the back in Brazil, yet he was a big performer for his country.

    He was the only member of the back four to appear in all three of England's games, outlining his position in Roy Hodgson's team.

    We can expect England's defence to be built around him in the coming years as the Three Lions prepare for Euro 2016 and the World Cup in Russia.

5. Adam Lallana

18 of 22

    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Two substitute appearances followed by a starting berth against Costa Rica mark a good World Cup for Adam Lallana.

    He has forced his way into international football in the past year or so, rising through the leagues with Southampton to become a key name for club and country.

    He gave England more shape going forward against the Costa Ricans and as a natural in the attacking midfield area, gives his country more options.

    Lallana would have wanted more game time, but he certainly made the most of the minutes he did play.

4. Ross Barkley

19 of 22

    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Ross Barkley is just 20, yet plays with the maturity of a player of far older years.

    He is an exciting talent—a player who gives hopes that England's poor results in Brazil are just a blip on the road to better things.

    Barkley entered the World Cup seamlessly, coming off the bench against Italy and immediately taking the game to them.

    He plays without fear and long may it continue.

    Barkley is one of the many youngsters that will form the spine of England in years to come.

3. Daniel Sturridge

20 of 22

    Warren Little/Getty Images

    With all the talk of the Premier League and how overseas talent is stifling the development of English players, Daniel Sturridge is a fine example.

    Quite how Chelsea allowed him to leave for £12 million, joining Liverpool in January 2013, is a mystery.

    Since that time, with the confidence of his manager and game time, he has proved his worth for the Reds; becoming prolific in front of goal and the man who England will pin their goalscoring hopes in the future.

    Now 24, Sturridge should have already featured at previous World Cups and European Championships. As it is, Brazil 2014 was his first, but will not be his last.

2. Raheem Sterling

21 of 22

    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Raheem Sterling made his World Cup debut against Italy in England's opening match—it didn't look like that.

    Sterling played like a player with years of experience, taking everything in his stride and proving a major threat for England.

    Uruguay's tactics stifled his threat, yet Sterling still put in a good display in a game that England shouldn't have lost.

    Granted, he has so much more to achieve to be considered in the world-class category of player, but with him in the side, England's threat on the attack has taken on a whole new dimension.

1. Luke Shaw

22 of 22

    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    He may have played just the one game, yet Luke Shaw left the biggest impact on the World Cup for England.

    His display against Costa Rica was exceptional and showed a player who is ready for international football despite being just 18 years old.

    Unlike his teammate Leighton Baines, Shaw slotted in with ease on the left side of defence, rarely exposed and able to offer just as much in attack as he did defensively.

    Shaw showed great maturity late on, too, when Marco Urena broke free on the counter.

    Rather than diving in and acting rashly, Shaw was a cool customer and did enough to force his opponent off stride, with England eventually winning a goal kick from a dangerous position.

    It was one moment in a fine performance that outlined why so many clubs are going to be chasing his signature this summer.