Hodgson press conference: youth excels - how much can Roy rely on starlets?

Raheem Sterling Liverpool

England's 1-0 win over Denmark may not have been pretty, but it showed that there is reason to be optimistic about some of the young players coming through.

Daniel Sturridge's late header handed England the win, and whilst it wasn't the most vintage display from Roy Hodgson's men, the former West Bromwich Albion and Fulham boss was pleased with what he saw, praising the young players who made a telling contribution in England's win.

"Looking at performances, you would have to be a harsh critic to say anybody played poorly or did not do their chances a bit of good. I have been very happy with these few days we have had together, with the attitude and the obviously desire of everybody to get on that plane and grab that shirt," said Hodgson.

"It is going to mean headaches for me, but I think it is good news for England that we have so many players who are looking good and able to accept the responsibility. - Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, even young Jack Wilshere, who has not played many games for England.

"I must say, all of those would in my opinion come out of the game with credit."

It was Lallana who turned the game with touches of class after coming on as a second half substitute, but Hodgson was right to praise a number of young players who contributed heavily in the win. Of the names mentioned by Hodgson, Lallana is the oldest at 25, with his Southampton team mate Shaw the youngest at just 18 - but with such little England experience amongst them, how much can Hodgson rely on them at the World Cup in Brazil this summer?

It would appear only Sturridge is guaranteed of a starting role after a stunning season, yet others in that list deserve prominent roles. In Theo Walcott's absence, Sterling should be given the chance to feature on the right hand side as a like-for-like replacement for the Arsenal man, as Sterling's direct style and pace can give England the same outlet that Walcott offered.

Additionally, Lallana should be given a chance out on the left if England move back to a 4-4-2. His ability to cut inside and create chances through skill and guile would offer England a balance on the flanks between raw speed and cultured ability. His Saints team mate Shaw has a harder task, with established faces like Ashley Cole and Leighton Baines also vying for the left back role.

In midfield, it would be a surprise to see Henderson and Wilshere make the squad, with Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard and Ross Barkley also in contention, and if it came down to the wire, you would have to assume that Hodgson would go with Wilshere. There are some tough decisions on the horizon but maybe - just maybe - the future could be bright for England after all.

image: © kong niffe

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch