England manager Roy Hodgson has named his squad for the upcoming double-header of qualifiers for FIFA World Cup 2014. England’s qualifying campaign kicks off in Chisinau against Moldova next Friday before playing their first competitive game at Wembley under the new manager. Ukraine are the visitors to London on the evening of September 11th, the second time in a few weeks that England face a fixture against an opponent from UEFA Euro 2012.
Hodgson’s squad selection is largely unsurprising. Upon first glance it was Manchester United’s Ashley Young who was the most noteworthy omission, but United have since confirmed to the media that he picked up a knock in his team’s last outing and was ruled out by the club.
Two wins in these matches might not be essential, but they’d go a long way to getting Hodgson off to a positive start. Six points from six, including from one of the trickier home matches, would be just the tonic for manager, squad and supporters alike. The squad is a strong one, and in all honesty two wins shouldn’t be too much to ask. Over to you, Roy.
Hodgson’s selection in full:
Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich City)
There are suckling babies in as yet undiscovered corners of our planet that could have named England’s three goalkeepers for this squad. The likes of Scott Carson, Ben Foster and Rob Green are finally effectively confined to the past in favour of an altogether more sensible approach.
Joe Hart is presumably the first name on the teamsheet, and is backed up well by a solid Premier League goalkeeper in John Ruddy. Do I have a problem with the third goalkeeper being there to develop, learn and grow into his role? Not on your life, mate. In fact, it’s about time. What’s the point in having two 30-year-old substitute goalkeepers?
Leighton Baines (Everton), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), John Terry (Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)
Left back, left back…left back. Three of them, and that’s not even counting Glen Johnson who’s not exactly a stranger to the role. But Ryan Bertrand of Chelsea is third in line of the trio and is arguably there for the same reason as Butland: valuable international camp experience. Kyle Walker and Johnson will have to fight it out to start on the opposite flank.
The senior players from the Euros squad return, including former captain John Terry. Hodgson has stuck to his guns and included Terry despite the player still having a Football Association charge hanging over him. Phil Jagielka, in fine form so far this season, is also included. Gary Cahill will be hoping to edge out the Everton man and his former Goodison Park colleague Joleon Lescott.
Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Sunderland), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)
Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley represent a Manchester United core in the middle of the pitch and both will be hopeful of a start in a new-look England midfield. But the old guard are back to provide a challenge to their aim: Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are both available for England as the new season gets underway. Personally, I hope the United duo get the nod. Scott Parker is injured.
There are rich options out wide, and hopefully this will offer a more dynamic look than England’s Euros effort. Adam Johnson is back in after a solid showing in the recent friendly against Italy and has since moved to Sunderland, where he’ll be looking to enjoy a new lease of life. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain might well lose out to Theo Walcott on the other side, but I can’t help thinking it’d be more interesting to see the younger of the two against Moldova.
Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
Two strikers with new club contracts, two who could easily have made a move by this time tomorrow. Danny Welbeck and Jermain Defoe have signed up at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur respectively, but the futures of Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll are somewhat more doubtful. Carroll in particular seems set to move from Liverpool having been apparently unable to win over new manager Brendan Rodgers.
Unfortunately, England remain woefully short of strikers. Without Wayne Rooney, Hodgson has just about managed to pull together a stable of four. Only one is in any kind of goalscoring form since the beginning of the new season, but a couple of international strikes could be just the tonic.
So there it is, England’s first World Cup 2014 squad. What do you make of it?
(Photo credit: mollyig via Flickr)