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100 days to the World Cup: Who's in your England squad?

5th March 2014

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Let’s be honest. English football isn’t exactly awash with footballers suited to the international stage. While we agonise over whether to take lumpy Andy Carroll or Toronto FC’s finest Jermain Defoe, Spain are happily leaving Juan Mata, Fernando Llorente and David Villa out of their latest squad.

However, there are some encouraging signs for England, not least in Liverpool’s almost kamikaze obsession with attack, fronted by English players like Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. Joe Hart has regained some semblance of form for Manchester City and crucially, no one – barring the unfortunate Theo Walcott – is injured. Yet.

So here we go with the 23 players we’d select to don the English shirt with pride – and thankfully not a John Terry amongst them.

Goalkeepers: Hart (Man City), Foster (West Brom), Forster (Celtic)

The goalkeeping department largely picks itself. Joe Hart will play the entire tournament barring injury or a calamitous red card, Ben Foster has been persuaded out of retirement as back up and Fraser Forster nudges out John Ruddy for the third spot based on potential and European experience. Honourable mention to Chris Kirkland (although we may be biased as Sheffield Wednesday fans).

Defence: Johnson (Liverpool), Cahill (Chelsea), Jagielka (Everton), Jones (Man United), Baines (Everton), Cole (Chelsea), Smalling (Man Utd), Walker (Spurs)

There are few contentious issues in defence. Ashley Cole makes it over Luke Shaw (just) based on experience, Phil Jones is in for his ability to play right-back and defensive midfield at a push, while Chris Smalling makes it, frankly, due to a lack of alternatives. Joleon Lescott gets no playing time, Steven Caulker is struggling with Cardiff and Michael Dawson is too slow.

Midfield: Gerrard (Liverpool), Wilshere (Arsenal), Henderson (Liverpool), Lallana (Southampton), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Sterling (Liverpool), Barkley (Everton), Carrick (Man Utd)

Midfield is where it gets interesting. Two years ago, everyone laughed when England took Jordan Henderson to Euro 2012. Now he is part of a Liverpool team playing a high energy, pressing and passing game and is right on form, just like his Liverpool colleague Raheem Sterling. Adam Lallana is in for his flair and vision, while Ross Barkley could be the surprise of the tournament.

Frank Lampard misses out for the slightly more mobile Michael Carrick, but the big loser is Andros Townsend, whose winter form has fallen away and bare statistics read 14 games and just one goal this season for Spurs.  

Forwards: Rooney (Man Utd), Welbeck (Man Utd), Sturridge (Liverpool), Lambert (Southampton)

Rooney, Sturridge and Welbeck are all shoo-ins, leaving one space free for another striker. Defoe? Carroll? Rodriguez? Lambert? The options aren’t exciting, but as Carroll and Defoe have a grand total of one Premier League goal between them this season, it comes down to the Southampton two. Lambert sneaks in for his better build up play and aerial ability.

So there you have it. The 23 men to lead England to World Cup glory in Brazil. The squad is there to be shot at – no Lampard, no Milner, for god’s sake no Tom Cleverley, so if you think you can do better, who would you take?

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