The current England players that will ‘matter’ for Roy as he plots Brazil 2014
When Hodgson was approached for the England job seven weeks ago his doubters outnumbered the supporters en masse. Seen as a cheap, safe alternative to Redknapp the former Fulham, Liverpool and West Brom man was far from the choice of the people.
For many, his best opportunity was to se the European Championships as way to prepare for tests further down the line. Criticisms included that he was a ‘small team’ manager who worked better with lesser players. Hodgson may have won over fans and critics alike but the sentiment of using the tournament as preparation for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 still rings true.
Yes, England can do well in this tournament but that doesn’t mean it is not a lesson for the future and, with the World Cup qualifiers beginning in September, the performances of our players in this tournament will have some bearing in how England progress post Euro 2012.
So, looking at the performances so far, and taking in to consideration the relative age of the team, which players should we be looking at for the road to Brazil?
To be described by Gianluigi Buffon as one of the best keepers in the world is no mean feat, especially considering the Italian captain was thought by many to be the number one in the world for many years.
What makes the prospect of Joe Hart’s development even more impressive is that, at 25, there is so much more to come. England legend David Seaman recently said he believed Hart could go on to become the greatest English keeper of all time – that in itself is debateable, yet the quality of his play and the confidence he inspires is undeniable.
England’s defence may soon say goodbye to the likes of Rio Ferdinand, John Terry and Ashley Cole who are all over thirty but with Hart at the base of the defence the plans for development at least have a secure foundation. A possible future captain, Hart seems unlikely to be moved from England’s line up for years to come.
Yet to play in Euro 2012, Phil Jones might not be everybody’s idea of the future heart of the English defence, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of competition. Yes, there is Chris Smalling, and Gary Cahill and Joleon Lescott will make it to the next World Cup, but Phil Jones has the potential to easily surpass his compatriots. Like it or not it is unlikely that Ferdinand or Terry will play another international tournament for England and Hodgson must start looking to the future now.
Jones started last season exceptionally well and despite his dip in form you’d have to say that Hodgson must have faith in the United youngster to include him ahead of Micah Richards. It remains unlikely that he will feature in Poland or Ukraine as even if one of our centre halves were to get injured or suspended you would imagine that Jagielka, with his not inconsiderable international experience, would be the man to fill the void. However, Jones remains England’s brightest hope for a future centre half and he will definitely have a role to play in the qualifiers for 2014.
A raw talent, but a talent nonetheless. Not since Wayne Rooney’s goal for Everton against Arsenal as a teenager have fans and pundits been so excited by an English prospect. Chamberlain has gone, in the space of 18 months, from playing in League One to scoring in the Champions League and starting against France in an international tournament. Exuding confidence and technical ability there’s no telling how fast the former Southampton winger can progress.
Wenger himself expressed his surprise as to the speed of his development claiming that he had not really intended to use him at all for Arsenal last season. However, such was his growth, Chamberlain ended up playing 26 times for Arsenal, scoring 4 goals along the way. If, in a year, Chamberlain has progressed from League One to Champions League, in a further twelve months he could be ready to nail down a place in England’s starting line up. All of the experience he gains from these European Championships can only benefit his advancement.
Wayne Rooney + Danny Welbeck
Ever since Rooney came on to the international scene in 2004 he has been crying out for a decent strike partner. Yes, Michael Owen initially formed an on-field rapport with the United forward but his demise coincided with Rooney’s rise. Vassell, Heskey, Crouch, Bent, Defoe and others have all tried and failed to develop a meaningful football relationship with the former Everton man but at last Welbeck appears to be answer. Rooney may have looked rusty against Ukraine but after only one season of playing together at United the partnership they have formed is a proven combination.
Rooney will soon be 27. The time between now and the World Cup in 2014 will be the best years of his career, and now Welbeck is here to help get the best out of him.
We should expect Carroll’s form to improve over the next few years but it will be hard to replicate the effectiveness of a partnership honed at club level.
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