After blooding a number of young players at Euro 2012, England boss Roy Hodgson is looking forward to the return to fitness of Jack Wilshere, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, and plans to keep a close eye on Ryan Bertrand and Adam Johnson. Roy Hodgson insists England must remain ‘English’ and not try and copy World Champions Spain.
Hodgson’s Euro 2012 tactics have come in for criticism but he is adamant that he will not be bullied into ripping up what he believes are England’s strengths, and he will not be dazzled by buzzwords either. “The words vision and philosophy frighten me because I had to go to the dictionary once to find out what the word philosophy meant, and I’ve forgotten again,” said Hodgson.
“I don’t want to emulate other nations. I want England to be England. We have to maintain that degree of pragmatism that we have always had in English football. We also have to retain that fighting spirit and doggedness. We mustn’t start throwing those qualities over-board just so you can come off the field and have someone say you’ve had more shots at goal. We will be working to keep what’s good about our game and to improve the things that obviously did not go right for us this time.” Hodgson added: “Sometimes in football you have to be realistic.”
Meanwhile, Hodgson has already identified the kids he wants to build England’s new era around in preparation for the 2014 World Cup. The former West Brom boss has certainly experimented in friendlies and World Cup 2014 qualifiers since the Euros and has focused his early Premier League scouting missions on watching the youngsters.
Having already put Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson in his Euro 2012 squad, Hodgson is committed to further nurturing young talent. He is looking forward to the return to fitness of Jack Wilshere, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, and plans to keep a close eye on Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand and Sunderland’s Adam Johnson.
Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has been involved in both of England’s World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine and looks certain to play a part in Hodgson’s plans for the next few years. However, the imminent return of Jack Wilshere may cause Hodgson to think twice about young Cleverley.
“Jack Wilshere had an impact when he played in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign before he missed the whole of the season with injury,” said Hodgson. “We hope he’s going to be fit again and reach that level. The young boy Bertrand at Chelsea did very well in the Champions League final. So there are players out there, I’m just naming people off the top of my head. It’s my job now to study and research that.”
Of course, qualifying for Brazil will be the top priority and I doubt much will change. An astute manager should be able to bring in the new, younger talent and still get the results. After all, the ‘Golden Generation’ – your Frank Lampards, Steven Gerrards, Gareth Barrys – may be looking at the World Cup 2014 as their last international tournament, and our youngsters will reap the benefits in the long term if they can boast a wealth of international experience, starting from early in their careers. While qualifying for Brazil 2014 will be paramount, thinking five, maybe ten years ahead should also be of vital importance to Hodgson and his England side.
A potential future England starting XI (in a 4-3-3 formation):
Walker, Jones, Smalling, Bertrand
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cleverley, Wilshere
Walcott, Welbeck, Johnson
I don’t know about you, but that starting XI excites me. It’s a just a matter of giving these players plenty of international experience over the next few years so that we can mount a serious challenge in a major tournament down the line.
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