My England squad for Rio…..
As the World Cup draws nearer and it is becoming closer to that crunch time for the 23 players to make that plane to Brazil.
I thought I would put my two pennies in on who I feel should be selected for England to go and play in the World’s greatest tournament in June.
Below are my 23 players.
Hart, Forster, Foster
Johnson, Cole, Walker, Smalling, Jones, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines
Gerrard, Carrick, Lallana, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling, Barkley, Johnson
Rooney, Sturridge, Defoe, Carroll
Basically I think they more or less pick themselves.
Hart obviously is the number one choice. After that, it is pretty irrelevant as very rarely do we see a keeper get injured and have to sit out in these tournaments. But anything is possible and you have to be prepared.
Personally I have been impressed with Celtic’s Fraser Forster in the Champions League, only problem is those games are few and far between and he is not much tested in the Scottish Premier league. But he has still done enough to make the plane and play understudy to Joe Hart.
After that it was a straight fight between WBA’s Ben Foster and Norwich’s John Ruddy. I went for Foster due to his experience of being in and around the national set up longer, he can pass on valuable knowledge to younger players in the squad.
Reluctantly, I included Glenn Johnson and Ashley Cole. I was looking to leave them both out but a combination of their experience and not enough decent English defenders forced me to include them. Although it was touch and go to put Shaw in instead of Cole.
For me the rest of the defenders pick themselves although there could have been outside calls for Lescott, Gibbs and maybe even Richards or Clyne and possibly Shawcross. But for me they have not done enough to warrant a place over the players picked.
These could be some very contentious decisions, probably more with the omissions of the likes of Lampard, Milner and Townsend. I think with Gerrard playing the holding role and Carrick as cover or another holding player it opens up the midfield to more dynamic players. For me Lallana is a must he has engine, vision and trickery. Wilshere is another that has to be included for his ability and versatility.
When you are talking about pace to unlock defences, even though he is so young, Sterling’s club form has played his way into this squad. He is also highly versatile and that is a word I would use as a reason to also include Oxlade-Chamberlain along with Ross Barkley. Two players who also bring strength for their age along with ability.
I think that trio of youth is needed to mix it up and spring surprises on the opposition, also you need that no fear element youth brings in big tournaments. To top it off, I would take Adam Johnson, I really think he will bring something different to the squad. He has that element of unexpected but a certain amount of experience and could be very effective later in games, especially in the heat of Brazil. That was also part of the reason why Lampard and Milner missed out.
I know many expect Townsend to go but personally I would not take him. I feel he is too one-dimensional and plays in bursts which can be easily snuffed out against smart defenders. I also feel barring one and half good games for the national team, he has not done enough for his club side to warrant a place in the squad. Jordan Henderson was very close but with the combination of Gerrard, Carrick, Lallana and Wilshere I saw no need for Henderson this time for what he brings, unfortunately.
Obviously, first and foremost Rooney and Sturridge pick themselves. The next question will be do you take five strikers and one less defender or midfielder?
I decided to take four due to the inclusion of Sterling and Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both can play further forward. Also to a lesser extent Lallana, who can play in the hole and Johnson who can play wide as a front three. Due to this, I saw no place for Welbeck. Many may raise their eyebrows but for me he falls short of the top striker you need in that position in the world’s best tournament.
For me Defoe fits that bill. When it comes to goals, and striking ability I would definitely include him, he would even compete for a starting place. I thought long and hard about the last player and only for the sheer fact of that unexpected element I would take Carroll.
Not many nations would have a 6ft 4in burly striker to fling on, ruffle some feathers and put the cat among the pigeons if you are struggling. So he can be useful, just in the right situation. Because of that and reluctantly there was no place for Ricky Lambert.
So there you have it. No doubt some surprises. It will be interesting to see just how many of these actually make the plane. I feel with the squad I chose, there are loads of possibilities in terms of formation. I would be inclined to start with a 433 but with the options it can easily go to a 442, a 4231, a 451 or even 352 given a few changes off the bench.
I am reluctant to say this is a squad that could actually win the World Cup because I just don’t think England can. But taking a younger squad might just give England a head start in preparation for World Cup 2018 in Russia.