England fans head towards the World Cup this summer not only with their trademark sense of national optimism, but also with the general understanding that Roy Hodgson’s squad is not as well equipped as some of the best sides in jetting into South America. Even the bookmakers have caught onto the lack of expectations, with Betfair and others putting England outside the top 8 teams most likely to win the World Cup.
Despite boasting a strong spine, consisting of Joe Hart, Gary Cahill, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney; the Three Lions will be heavily reliant on the new crop of youth, with some only having a small amount of international experience under their belts.
Roy Hodgson’s decision to put his faith in England’s youth over the experienced was typified by the 66-year-old’s choosing of 18-year-old Luke Shaw over defensive mainstay Ashley Cole for his provisional 30-man squad.
While Shaw is an exciting prospect at the back, he has only 45 minutes of international experience to date, with some baffled as to the risk Hodgson made in his selection.
But it could end up being a masterstroke, with the likes of Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling to also be afforded genuine responsibility in Brazil this summer.
Meanwhile, while Wayne Rooney will have the pleasure of tearing at defences with Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, a partnership that has had England fans salivating at the thought, there is still some concern at the back.
Fans and pundits alike were clamouring for the return of former skipper John Terry this season, not only because of the 33-year-old’s outstanding campaign for Chelsea, but also because other than Gary Cahill, he is still the best England have to offer at the back.
The first choice Phil Jagielka is largely untested on the big stage, and considering the might of Group D opponents Italy and Uruguay, Hodgson’s men may find it tricky to even make it through to the last 16.
Still, optimism can get you a long way; as can a talismanic skipper like Steven Gerrard!
Key Info –
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Captain: Steven Gerrard
World Cup Winners: 1966
World Cup Runners-Up: N/A
England provisional 30-man squad
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Celtic), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (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)
Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United)
World Cup 2014 Fixtures:
England vs Italy, Saturday 14th June, 23:00
Uraguay vs England, Thursday 19th June, 20:00
Costa Rica vs England, Tuesday 24th June, 17:00