7 Players Who Could Come into Roy Hodgson's England Thinking for Euro 2016
Let's not shrink away from the glaringly obvious matter: It's been a dismal, dire and disappointing World Cup for England, who are now home after their exploits (or lack thereof) in Brazil.
If it wasn't for Luis Suarez's infamous bite on Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, then no doubt the back pages of newspapers would have been a lot more unpleasant for England players when landing in the UK again.
Roy Hodgson will already be stuck away in a dark room plotting for Euro 2016, which England should almost certainly qualify for, given how the tournament has stretched to 24 teams.
Switzerland and England should really be occupying the two automatic spots to reach the finals in 2016, with even the buffer of third place meaning a spot in the play-offs, which England traditionally do well in when backed into that particular corner.
But Hodgson will have much searching to do to find some players who can come in and make an impact following a poor World Cup. And thankfully for Roy, he's got some decent alternatives lingering in the Premier League who weren't in his 23 for this tournament.
It would seem logical to start at the back, so why not begin there?
Of the goalkeepers that were in Brazil, it is hard to see anyone dislodging Joe Hart from the unanimous role of England's No. 1. Even Fraser Forster will be stronger in two years' time, so that almost sews up the keeping spots for the Euros. It's essentially academic who the third choice will be, as he is rarely needed at tournaments.
England looked woefully desperate at times during the World Cup, with the full-backs in particular coming in for some real criticism. Glen Johnson is England's best right-back at the moment, but in two years' time someone should be in a position to challenge him.
And could his best challenger come from within Liverpool's own squad? Jon Flanagan had somewhat of a breakthrough season in 2013/14, playing a hefty number of games at full-back for Liverpool and proving his worth for Brendan Rodgers.
The pressure needs to be applied on Johnson after a pretty average tournament. Guys like Jon Flanagan have the necessary skills to do exactly that.
From one Mersey-based defender to another. Although he's not a Liverpool lad by birth, John Stones is very much part of Everton's future moving forward and should have a strong 2014/15 for the club.
The former Barnsley centre-half is growing in confidence each and every week. He looks a strong candidate to challenge Phil Jagielka for a first-team spot for both club and country.
In truth, it would be even better if Roberto Martinez could find a way for Stones to feature alongside Jagielka. That sort of experience will drag Stones along even quicker and throw him right into the fray to challenge for a place in Hodgson's team for the qualifiers.
Strong and powerful, he is everything an English central defender should be. Out of all the young English defensive talent currently circulating in the Premier League, Stones looks the most talented by some distance.
This may seem unlikely on a number of fronts, but hang with me for a minute.
Clearly, Michael Carrick has had a pretty woeful last 12 months for Manchester United. That wrote him out of contention for Hodgson's 23-man squad on merit, but he will be keen to make up for that this season.
United will look fresh and exciting again under Louis van Gaal. If he gives Carrick that holding role which made him so effective in United's title-winning season two years ago, his best form will surely not be far away.
And there is also the possibility that England will simply need a midfielder with experience. If Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard call it a day at international level (the latter surely will, while the former is more of a doubt), then Carrick's importance and stock could rise once again.
It's somewhat of an outside bet, but don't count out Carrick for an England chance once again.
Around nine months ago, Andros Townsend would have been an absolute certainty to go to the World Cup in Brazil. He had started the season with Tottenham Hotspur like a man possessed and was even delivering it on the international front with a special first goal for his country.
But injuries and a lack of form curtailed any chance he had of going the tournament, unfortunately. However, with a full pre-season under his belt expectations are high for Townsend to deliver.
He is exactly what England are looking for if they are to progress. He is quick, dynamic and, above all else, absolutely fearless.
Townsend has been impressive on the rare occasions he has pulled on an England shirt. Expect to see plenty of him in the Euro 2016 qualifiers and potentially beyond.
When Theo Walcott went to the 2006 World Cup as a fresh-faced 17-year-old, what odds could you have had on his not playing in a World Cup match until he was 29?
That's exactly the situation that has unfolded, after injury once again ruled him out of contention for a major tournament. It shouldn't be like this for Walcott, and you do have to feel sorry for his luck, which is pretty rotten.
Yet the Arsenal man remains one of England's most potent threats, whether that is coming off the bench or starting the game.
He is versatile, too. Playing through the middle or out wide gives Hodgson a man with the genuine potential to cover numerous areas, which automatically makes him an asset at international level.
If he starts the season brightly for Arsenal, it is impossible to imagine an England squad without Walcott involved.
When planning for the future at international level, the first thing managers generally do is look to the under-21 squad for divine inspiration.
And although there isn't a wealth of talent there at the minute (largely due to the senior England squad taking the best young talent with them to Brazil), one name does stand out above the rest.
Danny Ings has had a sensational season for Burnley in the Championship and looks more than ready to make the step up to Premier League football.
He has a real eye for goal and is a genuine No. 9. With Wayne Rooney being pushed back into midfield and time not exactly being on Rickie Lambert's side in terms of age, Daniel Sturridge needs serious competition.
So why not Ings? When England play some friendlies over the coming months, it would be foolish of Hodgson to overlook the Burnley hotshot, in all honesty.
The biggest talking point surrounding the England squad for this year's World Cup was the large influx of Southampton talent.
Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana all had stunning seasons for the Saints, but it could easily have been four.
Jay Rodriguez has been absolutely outstanding all season for the Saints, but injury massively destroyed his chances of getting to Brazil.
If he gets back to fitness, it won't be long before Rodriguez is firing once again.
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