Coral experts predict Roy Hodgson’s England World Cup squad
England manager Roy Hodgson names his World Cup squad of 23, plus seven players on standby, that he will take to Brazil.
Our Coral experts have stuck their necks out and predicted what is in his thinking.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Fraser Forster (Celtic), Ben Foster (West Brom); John Ruddy (Norwich) as standby.
Hodgson must surely reward Scottish Premiership winner Forster with a squad spot ahead of Canaries keeper Ruddy on merit, form and confidence. Hart is clearly the Three Lions’ number one with Foster as his backup.
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones and Chris Smalling (both Man Utd), Luke Shaw (Southampton); Jon Flanagan (Liverpool) and John Stones (Everton) on standby.
England boss Hodgson has committed to bringing youth through, but defence is clearly an area where experience is essential. Shaw gets in because of Ashley Cole’s retirement, but for the likes of Stones and Flanagan this tournament has come around too early.
Understudy right back Kyle Walker (Tottenham) will have lost all match fitness because of pelvic and groin problems that have kept him sidelined for two months. It seems the height of folly, meanwhile, to reward Steven Caulker (Cardiff City) with a World Cup place after the club side he skippers shipped 74 Premier League goals and finished bottom.
Baines will get the starting berth at left back. Smalling has had a poor season, but has played under the manager at Fulham. We are assured Red Devils teammate Jones will be fit for the finals, so both can cover centre half and for Johnson.
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson (both Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Man City), Michael Carrick (Man Utd), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere (both Arsenal), Adam Lallana (Southampton); Tom Cleverley (Man Utd) and Ross Barkley (Everton) on standby.
Hodgson gave a clear indicator he would keep faith with the players that helped the Three Lions qualify. Only Cleverley’s abysmal form will force his hand with the likes of Henderson and Lallana clearly ahead of the flop now.
Should Wilshere be unable to prove his fitness, then Barkley will definitely be in Brazil. The rising star had just the one appearance off the bench in qualification, however, and Carrick’s calmness is such an attractive asset for cautious coach Hodgson.
This will likely be Lampard’s last international tournament. Milner is a lock for inclusion because of his versatility. Oxlade-Chamberlain, meanwhile, will want to build on his goal in the Maracana last summer, but can expect an impact substitute role.
Forwards: Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck (both Man Utd), Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling (both Liverpool), Rickie Lambert (Southampton); Andy Carroll (West Ham) and Jermain Defoe (Toronto) on standby.
These five attackers rather pick themselves. Welbeck has always performed an England shirt, while the weight of expectation falls on national talisman Rooney. Sterling faces cut-throat competition for a wide berth, but there should be a starting spot for leading English Premier League marksman Sturridge.
Lambert’s 13 top-flight goals are difficult to ignore, and Hodgson may have concerns over the ability of target man Carroll to play every few days in the conditions. Connor Wickham (Sunderland) has come into form too late; while there will be uproar from fans if Defoe – in effective semi-retirement in the MLS – is on the roster instead of a standby.
England are 28/1 shots with Coral to win their second World Cup at the Brazil finals. They have been drawn in Group D alongside four-time winners Italy, twice champions Uruguay and Costa Rica.