Bold prediction - Norwich newbie Hooper to be on plane to Brazil 2014

In the latest edition of our bold prediction series we ask whether Gary Hooper could join Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool stars in the England striking department.

Neil Lennon yesterday said he was pleased for Gary Hooper in finally getting his dream move to the Premier League; but also admitted he could also have strangled the player after his £5.2 million move to Norwich City.

He might have to form an orderly queue however; with Harry Redknapp also likely to feel aggrieved at the players decision to choose Norfolk over London this week.

But in the latest instalment of our ‘bold prediction’ series we ask if Hooper might start ruffling the feathers of those who aren’t cantankerous football gaffers.

Could he do it to the England national team; in particular their striking department?

Let’s be hypothetical for a second and say England finally pull their finger out and beat the likes of Ukraine and Montenegro to a place at next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Could Hooper be on the plane?

England are likely to take four strikers; they always do.

The grey area here is whether England see Theo Walcott as a striker or winger or both; in this scenario I will say both … just to give Hooper even more competition for places.

Wayne Rooney will be on the plane. No matter what happens this season he has to go as, despite his unpopular fan polling, he is probably our most gifted individual.

Then there is Daniel Sturridge. If he has a season like the second half of last term then he can leave his diary free next summer.

Danny Welbeck should be on his way as well; his performances for England have always been superb and he seems one of the few players who genuinely enjoy pulling on an England shirt.

Add Theo Walcott to that list and it is four, so where does Hooper fit in.

First of all one of the above will be injured. Currently two of them are at the moment. If history tells us anything about England and major competitions we know injuries will play a key role.

So who comes in and makes it four?

The obvious candidates are Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll.

But Defoe’s star is fading and I have a sneaking suspicion that the remainder of Tottenham’s summer business will see his game-time dramatically reduced next season.

Carroll is likely to be Hooper’s main competition and personally, while I get the Plan B idea of Carroll (I didn’t know we had a plan A but whatever), Hooper can bring much more to the table.

First things first Hooper has to play well for Norwich and with Ricky van Wolfswinkel for a strike partner I can easily see him bagging enough goals to make Roy Hogdson take notice.

Hooper is also very similar in playing style to Shane Long; a player Hodgson was a massive fan of during his time at West Brom which could work in his favour.

I genuinely believe that Hooper could bag 20 goals, or more, next season in a Canaries team full of promise and belief.

If he does that then the likes of Defoe and Carroll will have to go some to stop him getting on board a plane to Rio.

The only way he might not is if a young striker comes through the ranks at a club and shines - perhaps someone like Arsenal prodigy Chuba Akpom.

But that is a bold prediction for another day.

Do you think Gary Hooper can make the England squad?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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