With England performing so dismally at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, many people have said that it’s time to get rid of the old and put in the new. Now could well be the time to give the youngsters a chance, but which English starlets have a chance to force out the out guard by the time the 2014 World Cup in Brazil comes around. Here’s a look at ten who are in with more than a chance:
Jack Rodwell – The Everton midfielder has represented England in all age groups and it shouldn’t be too long before he gets a full cap. The 19-year-old has already shown that he has composure ahead of his years and is close to making 50 league appearances for Everton already. At 6ft 2in, Rodwell has plenty of height, something that is always handy at set-pieces, and is an athlete you can get around the pitch and perform the box-to-box role. While it has often been said that Steven Gerrard wasn’t always used to his full potential for the Three Lions, surely a player from the blue half of Merseyside will be at the heart of England’s team for many years to come.
Jack Wilshere – Another Jack, Wilshere is destined for big things and the Arsenal youngster has be touted as being the most talented English footballer since Paul Gascoigne. The diminutive attacking midfielder has the creativity that any team would crave and can unlock a defence with ease. Currently being eased into first team action at The Emirates by Wenger, it will be interesting to see whether the 18-year-old will be loaned out again this season or whether he’ll compete for a place at under the Frenchman. Either way, by the time the 2014 World Cup comes around, it will be a major surprise if Wilshere isn’t a certain England starter.
Adam Johnson – Perhaps no longer a starlet as such, Johnson will feel aggrieved that he didn’t make the 2010 squad, and will thus need no extra motivation to make sure that his form warrants an automatic place when 2014 comes round. The 23-year-old doesn’t need a second invitation to take full backs on, and he’s already shown in his short time at Manchester City that he has the confidence to ply his trade against the best in the country. I’m sure it will be no different when it comes to playing the best in the world, and with bags of skill and trickery in his locker, Johnson will be a regular fixture on one of England’s wings.
Chris Smalling – Sir Alex Ferguson’s purchase of the young defender came somewhat out of the blue last season. Smalling has achieved an incredible rise up the football ladder, having gone from non-league footballer to Premier League player in less than two years. Fergie has obviously seen something in the 20-year-old that he like and persuaded him to go for the player, but whether he will get many first time outings this season it remains to be seen. If Smalling were to go on to play for England at the World Cup it would be one of the most unconventional journeys in recent years, but at 6ft 4in he could become the tower at the heart of England’s defence.
Joe Hart – Having got the experience of going to a World Cup under his belt, there’s no reason why Hart shouldn’t go from strength to strength. After a stellar season at Birmingham City, the ‘keeper heads back to Manchester City where he’ll have the unenviable task of getting the gloves off Shay Given. The 23-year-old looks to have all the abilities required at the top level and now just needs to prove it on the European and in turn the international stage. As long as he passes those tests as and when he comes to them, there’s no reason why Joe Hart shouldn’t be the England number one for many years to come.
Kieran Gibbs – Another Arsenal youngster, Gunners fans will be hoping that Gibbs can follow in the footsteps of Ashley Cole (on the pitch at least) and become a world class left back. Already having played for the Arsenal senior team, Gibbs would have featured more were it not for injury, something that hopefully won’t plague him too much in the future. The 20-year-old has plenty of pace and isn’t afraid to get forward, something that has helped him to net three times for the England U21 team to date. Cole himself will be 33 in 2014, and by then Gibbs may just have nipped in ahead of the ex-Arsenal player.
Danny Rose – If his stunning volley against Arsenal at White Hart Lane in the Premier League last season is anything to go by, then Rose will be making plenty of headlines for himself in the future. The 20-year-old may not be the most hyped youngster in the country right now but there may just be a chance that he can use this to his advantage. Further first team opportunities at Tottenham will be hard to come by, but the midfielder has already signalled his intent to impress Harry Redknapp in pre-season. With Spurs battling on many fronts this season, Rose should get another chance to shine and show that he’s the latest Leeds starlet to make it at the top.
Andy Carroll – A bit of an outside bet this, there have been mumblings that the Newcastle striker might not be too far from the England set-up. The 21-year-old certainly has the physical presence needed to be a successful target man but it remains to be seen whether Carroll can score goals at the highest level, having only hit the back of the net in the Championship for the Toon thus far. Another thing that Carroll will have to ensure is that he doesn’t regularly get into trouble off the pitch, as this will only hamper his career. He will be much better served using that aggression on the pitch and turning himself into a combative striker.
Micah Richards – The career of Micah Richards has stalled in recent years but I can’t see any reason why future international honours won’t come his way. The 22-year-old won his first England cap four years ago and still has time on his side. Richards is a real athlete who plenty of speed and strength and has much to offer England, but whether right back is his best position it remains to be seen. You feel that the next few years could go either way for Richards, but I wouldn’t discounting seeing him in an England shirt once more and when 2014 comes around he’ll have the experience needed to perform at the highest level.
Connor Wickham – There’s always a wildcard youngster who makes it to the World Cup and Wickham might just be that man in 2014. At just 17 years of age, it’s far too early to tell which way Wickham’s career will go but there’s a chance that he could just be a star of the future. The Ipswich Town striker has already shown that he’s prolific in front of goal, having netted 9 times in 13 games for England U19 and many people will be following his progress in the Championship this season. Roy Keane is very keen to hang onto the youngster amidst interest from Spurs and Harry Redknapp, and the prospect of a £10m transfer shows just how highly Wickham’s thought of.
These are just ten England starlets who will be hoping to feature for England in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. As is the case with youngsters, some will go onto to big things and some will fall by the wayside, and it will be interesting to see how the players I’ve identified will fare. Who of the above do you think will dismantle the old guard ahead of 2014, and out of those not listed here, who do you reckon we should be keeping an eye on?