Barkley and Lallana excite amid Hodgson's progressive England selection

Roy Hodgson

No Cole, Carroll, Carrick or Cleverley…but Shaw, Barkley, Lallana, Lambert and Lampard all included.

At 2pm on Monday 12th May, Roy Hodgson announced the squad who will represent England at the Brazil World Cup this summer.

There were a few mildly surprising omissions, though the biggest surprise was Roy’s adopting of a positive approach. This surprise has, no doubt, left many England supporters smiling with a sense of anticipation, instead of the furrowed frown accompanying a sense of foreboding we expected. It is quite refreshing, actually.

Hodgson appears to have opted for a progressive, balanced and versatile squad with a selection of players capable of functioning in varied tactical situations.

In possibly the most high profile exclusion, centurion fullback Ashley Cole missed out on appearing at his fourth World Cup, and retired from international football shortly after discovering so. Coupled with the emergence of Luke Shaw, the Chelsea defender simply had not featured enough this season to warrant selection.

The seemingly risky inclusion of just seven defenders rests on the versatility of Manchester United pair Phil Jones and Chris Smalling – both of whom are able to function in the central and right-sided defensive roles, with steely Jones also able to anchor the midfield. Title-winning midfielder James Milner can also operate at fullback when required, meaning that a versatile seven suddenly transform into 10.

This wily move from Hodgson freed up extra room in the midfield, with tireless Milner always likely to feature in the boss’ plans.

The midfield appears a genuinely exciting prospect with quick, creative youngsters appearing alongside experienced ever-presents.

Bright-sparks Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling and Lallana will light up the attack, with Wilshere and Henderson also included to secure the centre of the park. Gerrard, Milner and Lampard have been tasked with leading this herd of young-bucks, selected, no doubt, for their invaluable understanding of the highest level.

Many fans would have breathed a hefty sigh of relief that the seemingly untouchable Tom Cleverley failed to make the cut. Having made the waiting list, there is a chance the underwhelming Manchester United midfielder could still be on the plane to Brazil if an unfortunate injury blights the squad. However, with veteran maestro Michael Carrick also available, hopefully Roy will continue his run of astute decisions.

Leading the line, the obvious candidates Rooney, Sturridge and Welbeck thankfully made the selection. The fourth position fell to Southampton big-man Rickie Lambert whose 13 goals and 10 assists this term got him the nod over East-London based Geordie Andy Carroll.

Lambert holds up play superbly with an excellent ability to bring team mates into the game – something that, with the inclusion of Southampton boys Lallana and Shaw, no doubt influenced Hodgson’s decision. Lambert also strikes a mean dead ball – an attribute which adds further steal to England’s armoury.

Joe Hart’s deputies are Ben Foster and Celtic-based Fraser Forster, with newly-relegated John Ruddy experiencing further disappointment this season.

The inclusion of such an exciting raft of talent brings about dreamy team combinations, with one such cocktail consisting a centre of Gerrard, Wilshere and Barkley, flanked by Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lallana and spearheaded by Wayne Rooney. The creativity on show would be almost unimaginable!

And if this selection is not your flavour, why not try Gerrard, Wilshere and Rooney just behind Lallana, Sterling and Sturridge! The combinations go on.

Perhaps I am getting a little carried away, but please forgive my enthusiasm for Roy’s potentially exciting team selection.

Overall, with youth, versatility and progress evidently at the heart of England’s squad this summer, things might be looking a little brighter than we ever might have hoped.

Strikers: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (England), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Fraser Forster (Celtic).


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