Chelsea legend hails Arsenal and Everton men as England’s brightest hopes

Ross Barclay

Gianfranco Zola has been talking about England's chances in next summer's World Cup.

Following the draw for the group stage of next summer’s World Cup, anyone and everyone has had their say on what it means for England.

Having been drawn with Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, Roy Hodgson’s men will have to be at their very best to be in with a shot of qualifying.

But speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Watford manager and former Chelsea player Gianfranco Zola believes England have some very big weaknesses to overcome…along with a few starlets with the potential to become future greats.

Hailing England’s attack and midfield as their strong point, Zola was less positive about the men behind them.

The weaknesses are the goalkeeper and defence in general,” the Italian said. “Joe Hart is having a difficult time, while losing charismatic figures likes John Terry and Rio Ferdinand weakened the back four.

The replacements have not shown themselves to be up to the task, so our strikers could really make the difference.”

It is hard to disagree with Zola’s assessment, but Hodgson will surely have paid close attention and will be working on ways to ensure his defence is as steadfast as possible going into the opening match against the Italians.

Despite the slight dampener, Zola gave England fans, and particularly supporters of Arsenal and Everton, something to be happy about, singling out two young players for special praise.

England’s hope is that some young players can make their mark leading up to the World Cup,” he added. “Jack Wilshere or Ross Barkley seem ready, in my view.”

I think they seem ready in everyone’s view, but such an endorsement from a legend of the game will surely give them added impetus to ensure they are not only in the squad for Brazil but, certainly in Wilshere’s case, starting the matches too.

image: © Jon Candy

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