The England players who increased their World Cup chances, and the ones who didn't

Tom Cleverley

It isn't all doom and gloom following England's first consecutive defeats at Wembley since 1977. However this may be unpleasant reading for Manchester United fans.

The friendly internationals against Chile and Germany were certainly a learning curve for England. The country was in a positive mood having come through the World Cup qualifying campaign with relative ease. The two defeats have now led to pundits and fans questioning many things regarding the set-up.

As soon as England have a mediocre performance many are quick to jump on their backs, and say we have no chance of even getting out of the group stage in Brazil etc. It happens all the time with England and there is little faith in the team. Joey Barton was quick to say Roy Hodgson is not the man and it is time to go foreign. But we've done that before, and that wasn't too successful either.

The matches against Chile and Germany were never going to be easy. England didn't get outplayed in either and there were plenty of positives. The result doesn't matter, it is not of importance. Obviously it would have been nice to beat Germany especially, but regardless Roy Hodgson will have learnt a lot about the players involved.

Joe Hart for starters, showed that there should never have been any doubt in his ability or form. He pulled off some great saves on Tuesday night to emphasise that without a doubt he should be starting between the sticks come Brazil. Fraser Forster didn't do too much wrong against Chile, but something unbelievable would have to take place if he was to displace Hart for the World Cup. Joe Hart is an assured goalkeeper, and one I would have complete faith in on the world stage.

Andros Townsend has taken to international football like a duck to water. I can't remember anyone adapting to international football so quickly and with so much ease as Andros has. He oozes confidence and constantly attempts to take the ball forward, which the majority of the time ends in a great cross, or a shot. He has already scored one goal, and came very close to bagging himself another against Germany. It seems that when on the attack, Townsend is the one player England will consistently seek out as he can be pivotal to the move. It is a huge surprise at how much he has progressed in the last year or so. He seems certain to be in the World Cup squad now, and could possibly be in the starting eleven.

Adam Lallana clearly impressed Roy against Chile on Friday, as he was handed another start on Tuesday night. Again like Townsend he was not afraid to bring the ball forward and take on players. Some players when they are given their debuts, just want to make sure they don't make any mistakes. So you will find them making the simple passes, and not doing anything adventurous. But the players who do try to make a difference stand out, even if it doesn't come off all the time. Lallana caused problems for Chile and Germany, and now provides Hodgson with an interesting selection headache as regards to wide players.

With two defeats occurring, obviously there were some players who did not impress. I'm afraid to say Manchester United fans, that the two who stood out for the wrong reasons were two Red Devils.

Chris Smalling is someone who I fail to see as to why he is consistently named in the England squad. Perhaps it is his versatility, as he can play in central defence as well as right-back. Either way, he doesn't particularly excel in either position. He is on the periphery of the United team at the moment, and always has been throughout his time there. Therefore I fail to see why he deserves an England call-up all the time. He isn't someone who strikes me as full of confidence, and I am always worried with him in defence. He often dithers when in possession and his position was poor for Germany's goal in Tuesday. There are many better English defenders than this man, namely, Michael Dawson, Steven Caulker, Micah Richards and Curtis Davies. His versatility isn't needed as we are more than covered for the right-back position.

Tom Cleverley is someone who Roy Hodgson is clearly a big fan of. He started the majority of the qualifying games, and only missed out when he was injured. However he is another player who I fail to see what he adds to the side. Again central midfield is an area where there are numerous candidates vying for positions in the squad. Cleverley showed again on Tuesday that he can often seem lost in a game. It seems as if Cleverley and Smalling are only there due to the club they play for. I use that term loosely because they barely play for their club. Cleverley is talented, but should not be in the starting line-up. I think players like Ross Barkley have proved that they offer more to England.

image: © eschipul

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