England National Team: Assessing Roy Hodgson’s squad

Overall I am happy with the squad that England National team manager Roy Hodgson has announced will be going to Brazil this summer for the World Cup.  There are some exciting young talents that are going to their first World Cup and it is great that Hodgson has given them a chance to prove themselves.

Offensively England will be a force to be reckoned with, but their defensive options are worrying. To recap, on May 12, 2014, Hodgson announced the following 23 players will be traveling to Brazil to represent England (In bold are the players I think will be most important):

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

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

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

Forwards: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Rickie Lambert (Southampton)

Wayne Rooney is key to England’s hopes this summer and will have to perform well against Italy in their opening game at the World Cup.

Most of the players that are in bold are offensive players because that is the area of the squad where England is strongest.  Daniel Sturridge is the less prolific half of SAS at Liverpool, but he scored 24 goals this season and will be vital to England’s efforts.  Partnering him is likely to be Wayne Rooney, England’s golden boy who has yet to perform on the national stage.

This summer may be his best chance at proving doubters wrong because he finally has a strike partner who will bury the chances that Rooney makes for him.  If England are going to progress to the latter stages, Rooney will need to be performing at his very best, he is easily the difference between going out in the Group Stages or going far into the tournament.  He has experience winning big competitions, which is something England need to utilize because Hodgson selected a lot of players who have never played in a major competition.

Perhaps one of the most exciting, and terrifying parts of Hodgson’s selection is the fact that many of the players lack big-game experience.  It is exciting because he has selected many young players, who possess a lot of talent, but it will be interesting to see how they let the pressure get to them.  Hodgson will need players like Rooney and Gerrard to lead by example.  There will be a lot of nerves in the first game against Italy, and it is important that the players who have been to a World Cup help the younger players deal with these nerves.  As much as England need their experienced players to perform, they also need their defensive players to  be playing to the best of their abilities.

As England’s starting goalie, Joe Hart will need to be on top form this summer.

Defense is definitely England’s weakest area.  Most of the defenders are making their World Cup debut, and their opposition will be looking to exploit that.  Right-back could be a point of weakness for England because if Glen Johnson is hurt, it is likely that Chris Smalling or Phil Jones will deputize for him.   Jones and Smalling can play in multiple positions, so they offer depth, but they both endured mixed seasons with Manchester United and it could lead to a lack of confidence which could be exploited by world-class opposition, such as Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, who they face in the Group Stage.

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England have some quality throughout the squad, particularly in an attacking sense.  Baines is fantastic at pushing up from left-back and delivering great crosses.  There is plenty of young talent that I think will impress.  If Ross Barkley plays, he will have a great tournament.  Defensively England look like they could be susceptible, and I think they will have to rely on their offensive players to get them results.  If the England squad performs as good as they look on paper then I am quietly optimistic that they can make it to the Quarter Finals.

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