Football

Should England focus on the future?

Wilshere & Cleverley both have bright futures  (©GettyImages)
Wilshere & Cleverley both have bright futures (©GettyImages).

With the World Cup in Brazil just round the corner, England are looking like a relatively strong force going into the competition. 

However, with big-name players such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard getting older, and youngsters like Jack Wilshere and Tom Cleverley developing into world-class players, is it time for a fresh approach?

No doubt Roy Hodgson's current crop of players are doing a brilliant job, and don't get me wrong I am a huge fan of both Gerrard and Lampard and think they're terrific players, but I also strongly admire the up and coming England talent. 

As Lampard and Gerrard are not going to be around forever, I feel that in the next round of friendly matches that regarded they are fit, the likes of Wilshere and Cleverley should be starting and getting used to playing alongside each other.

Frank Lampard will turn 35 when the tournament in Rio comes about, while Gerrard and Scott Parker will be 34 and 33. They can all still do a fabulous job and are still one of the best in the trade, but the question is will they have the legs to last the whole 90 minutes in midfield? I think a fresh start with possibly Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere anchoring rather than Parker and Gerrard, and Tom Cleverley playing just behind the strikers.

Some may argue that because Cleverley will only be 24, whilst Wilshere and Jones will only still be 22 they may be prone to more schoolboy errors. However, with each of them (when match fit) starting most matches for their respective teams, they look like they will be mature players and certainly good enough to play together at next year's summer showpiece.

Out wide, England are producing some really promising players - such as Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The likes of Ashley Young and Aaron Lennon are reaching their prime, along with the rapid Theo Walcott becoming an excellent player.

Moving on to strikers, not much needs to change as Wayne Rooney is reaching his peak years, and the same with Jermain Defoe. Although with the likes of Danny Welbeck blossoming this campaign, maybe he should get more of a look in at times.

In defence, England look to be relatively solid with a lot to choose from, with Kyle Walker and Leighton Baines giving Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole a real run for their money. At the heart of defence, England look anything but light on options with Chris Smalling and Steven Caulker improving all the time and Gary Cahill looking like a great player. On top of this Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott look more than capable of filling in at the back.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart still has plenty of years left as England's number one between the sticks, and is only going to get better. If anything were to happen to the Manchester City stopper, however, there is always the young Jack Butland who is a great prospect and Ben Foster who is excelling at West Brom.

As we saw against Italy at Euro 2012, Parker and Gerrard can only play so long without wilting, with extra-time always a possibility should England progress from the group stages. Youth could be the perfect thing for those kind of circumstances, as their excitement and hunger can get the team through tough matches.

I am by no means saying get rid of all the older players as experience is key, but maybe the correct option would be to try and gel the younger generations for the long-term future of the national team, and it can't hurt to try. I personally think that the youngsters should get a few run-outs together in advance to see if they show the maturity levels needed to play international football, and if they don't they will have to face the pain of missing out on a place.

In the mean-time, however, Wilshere and co can learn a lot from the likes of Lampard and Gerrard, and this could prepare them for big competitions and most likely accompany them in Brazil, too, with all the England players still showing consistent form for their clubs.

This is extremely premature I know, as England still have to qualify for the tournament as it's not a foregone conclusion. Jones, Cleverley, Smalling etc still have big futures ahead of them and will no doubt play big roles in the country's hopes of success, whether in Brazil or at the next European Championships in 2016.

 

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeFootball.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeFootball.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Topics:
Chris Smalling
Steven Caulker
Ben Foster
Internationals
Joe Hart
Football
Scott Parker
Steven Gerrard
Gary Cahill
Jack Wilshere
Leighton Baines
Tom Cleverley

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