World Cup 2014: Potential England XI

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The World Cup in Brazil is getting closer by the day, and with England's hopes of automatic qualification in the balance, I take a look at the players who have good chances of nailing down a starting place in 2014.

The formation is the 4-2-3-1 we've often seen used during the Hodgson era.

Goalkeeper: Joe Hart

Who else, really? As good as the other goalkeepers are - i.e Ben Foster and Jack Butland - none match Hart's high standards. This has been evident with the consistent selection of Manchester City's number one by Roy Hodgson. If he is fit, he will definitely be picked each match.

Right-back: Kyle Walker

A tough choice at right-back, with Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker contesting a strongly-fought battle for the spot. However, recently it looks as though Hodgson has noticed just how good Walker is, giving him chances for the whole 90 minutes. Considering his age, too, at 22 Walker is improving all the time and at the rate he's going, he looks like he will pip Johnson to the starting role.

Centre-back: Chris Smalling

The situation at centre-back is clearly well documented, with John Terry retiring and Rio Ferdinand looking ever more likely not to be in the squad next year. Chris Smalling is one player who has stepped up to the plate since these incidents. He has become one of the first names on the teamsheet and has done well to build partnerships with any of the other centre-backs he's had to play with. Smalling will need to be playing quite regularly at club level, but still looks like he'll make the cut.

Centre-back: Joleon Lescott

Definitely a brilliant centre-half, with Joleon Lescott it is all about regular football. He is not getting weekly football at Manchester City and has admitted that he may move from the Etihad Stadium to make the World Cup squad. If he does leave, then most clubs would have him starting and therefore we will probably see him starting for England, with Hodgson seeming to have faith in a Smalling-Lescott partnership.

Left-back: Leighton Baines

This decision is without a doubt the hardest to make. It is impossible to tell who will be preferred by the England boss, with competition fierce between Baines and Ashley Cole. Both of them have been used in a rotational system, and Baines is just my choice for the position.

Defensive midfield: Steven Gerrard

Another position up for grabs with the emergence of Phil Jones, Michael Carrick able to anchor, and of course the evergreen Scott Parker. However, with the Liverpool midfielder still looking as good and passionate as ever, it seems as though the captain will retain his role for one last major tournament.

Defensive midfield: Jack Wilshere

This might shock some people. Not the fact Jack Wilshere is in the side, but the position. I feel he can break down attacks terrifically, whilst also expressing great energy and determination. Providing he stays fit, Wilshere will certainly be starting and is seen by many as a crucial part of any possible England success.

Right-wing: Theo Walcott

The Arsenal man has been used as more of an impact sub in the international setup, as we saw at the European Championships last year. As good as James Milner is, and as hard as he works, it's hard to see past Theo Walcott as the man to run the right flank - especially now he has added goals to his game, too.

Attacking midfield: Tom Cleverley

At 23-years-old, Tom Cleverley has excelled this past year. Becoming a regular feature in Manchester United's starting line-up, Cleverley has also cemented a position in the England team, and Hodgson seems to favour him over anybody else in this position.

Left-wing: Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck is another Manchester United player who has become a solid name in the England set-up, and although he is not an out-and-out winger, he has the attributes to succeed in this position with fantastic work-rate, dribbling skills and pace. A tough choice as Ashley Young is a great player, but Welbeck looks more consistent form-wise and will be at the perfect age to perform on the biggest of stages.

Striker: Wayne Rooney

It had to be, as he is firmly England's number one striker and main man. Despite his failure to stand out in recent major tournaments, Wayne Rooney has great talent and is above his fellow strikers in quality, with Hodgson recognising this by starting him in most of his matches in charge. A goal against Brazil in a friendly earlier this year shows he can perform against big sides, and is undoubtedly capable of guiding the team to victory when on-song.

Other players that could play a part in the England team if they make it to the World Cup next year and haven't already been mentioned: Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge, Frank Lampard.


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Chris Smalling
Joe Hart
Danny Welbeck
Joleon Lescott
World Cup
Wayne Rooney
Steven Gerrard
Jack Wilshere
Kyle Walker
Leighton Baines
Tom Cleverley
Theo Walcott

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