Five England players you'd never expect to be fighting for their World Cup places

Manchester City, Chelsea, and Arsenal players feature.

Just one year ago most of these players would have been certainties for the starting lineup of England's opening World Cup game.

It's hard to believe that the players listed below are in danger of becoming fringe players for England's World Cup challenge in Brazil. A mixture of injuries, poor form, and the emergence of rivals for their position has proved that anything can happen in a year of football.

Joe Hart in danger of losing his place to Ben Foster or Fraser Forster

The Manchester City goalkeeper is in real danger of losing a position that looked his for years to come until recently. Dropped by Manuel Pellegrini in favour of a Romanian who isn't even first choice for his country, Hart must be secretly hoping Costel Pantilimon doesn't perform too well between the sticks, otherwise he may end up in the same position as Spanish number one Iker Casillas. May just hang on to his spot due to a lack of alternatives with top class international experience, and not enough games between now and June for that to change.

Ashley Cole in danger of losing his place to Leighton Baines

Still thought of by some as one of the best left-backs in the world, has also suffered from a slight dip in his usual impeccable standards while struggling with a rib injury. As big a concern for Cole is the emergence of Baines as an alternative of genuine class. Recently the performances of Cesar Azpilicueta for Chelsea have also put his club place in jeopardy, and Blues boss Jose Mourinho recently admitted that the former Arsenal man will have to fight for his position in the team. Baines' recent injury, as well as his disappointing performance against Chile, may well have given Cole the chance to steal a march back on the Everton man. 

Jack Wilshere in danger of losing his place to Adam Lallana or Ross Barkley

Jack Wilshere may well feel that he can force his way back to the front of Roy Hodgson's midfield thoughts, and given how well he's played for Arsenal recently he has every right to be confident. But niggling injuries, and the even more superior form of other Arsenal midfielders causing him to get less playing time, may just cause Wilshere to get pushed out of the England eleven. With both Lallana and Barkley impressing and playing regularly, they are likely to be his threats, as well as the system which sees the need for a more defensive midfielder alongside captain Steven Gerrard. Despite this, if he keeps playing well, and keeps remotely fit, Wilshere should have enough to find a place somewhere in the team.

Frank Lampard in danger of losing his place to Michael Carrick or Daniel Sturridge

Out of the five would be the player most expecting a diminished role given his age, but the fact that Lampard remains a stalwart of Mourinho's line up at Chelsea seems to indicate he has something to offer still. With Hodgson favouring a system with two forward thinking wingers, Lampard could either lose his place to the more defensive minded Carrick alongside Gerrard, or Daniel Sturridge, with Rooney playing just behind the Liverpool striker. It would be very surprising if the England boss goes with both Gerrard and Lampard as his two deeper central midfielders.

Theo Walcott in danger of losing his place to Andros Townsend

No-one knows what it's like to be the new flavour of the month more than Theo Walcott. Selected for the 2006 World Cup as a 17-year-old with no Premier League appearances, before exploding onto the international scene two years later with his hat-trick against Croatia, Walcott has had to watch from the physio room as another young London based winger becomes the national team's darling. Incredible really considering the fact Walcott had his best season last year, but there is no denying Townsend has taken the ball and run with it in an impressive way in the recent Wembley games, both figuratively and literally.

image: © domfell

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