Football

Roy Hodgson has tough decisions to make

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With the new season just days away, England have four matches left in their World Cup qualification Group H - three at Wembley and a trip to Ukraine - with a minimum of 10 points from a possible 12 required to secure qualification. 

Roy Hodgson now faces tough decisions to make regarding his squad. Who should play at the heart of defence? Which midfield partnership is the most effective? Who should partner Wayne Rooney up front? 

And last night's friendly with arch rivals Scotland made it clear that Hodgson has a lot to think about ahead of the decisive period. 

Both conceded goals could, especially the second, be defensive faults and Hodgson has admitted he will have to tighten up at the back. Is Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill the right partnership going into the back-to-back qualifiers? 

Well, the pair are both regular starters at their respective clubs, Everton and Chelsea, and who else have England got to choose from? 

Rio Ferdinand has retired from international duty, John Terry fell out of favour with the England set-up and found it hard to cement a starting place. 

Likewise Joleon Lescott hardly featured in Manchester City colours last term, and Phil Jones who can play in a number of positions is an option, while Chris Smalling hasn't got much international experience as yet. 

The England manager has used no fewer than five different pairings in the last seven matches as he tries to work out the best partnership. 

With Jagielka and Cahill starting the last three internationals against Scotland, Brazil and Republic of Ireland, a hint that Hodgson sees the duo as his main pairing as the answer to a problem that has existed for quite a while. 

With a bit of work just tightening up the loose ends, I can see the pair forming a solid partnership that England has desperately missed. 

Midfield is an area in which England seem to be the best equipped in terms of the players Hodgson has to pick from. 

It seems like the manager prefers the 4-3-3 formation, with one midfielder playing just in front of the defence with the other two having the freedom to get forward. Steven Gerrard, the England skipper, is an obvious choice as that holding player. 

But then there comes the difficult decision as to who partners him. Frank Lampard? Jack Wilshire? Michael Carrick? Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain? James Milner? Gareth Barry? Scott Parker? Tom Cleverly? Theo Walcott? Ashley Young? Jack Rodwell? Stewart Downing? 

That's quite a selection! But the standout name is Wilshire. Gerrard has already said he will be a future England captain and has already established himself as one of the best English midfielders despite only making eight international appearances. 

He plays without fear, he is technically good on the ball, he is aware of what goes on around him and has a great footballing mind - hard to believe at the age of 21. So surely that second spot in the midfield must go to Wilshire - if he can stay fit. 

Oxlade-Chamberlain has proven he can play in that position after an impressive outing against Brazil in the Maracana after coming on as a substitute and scoring. But what about Cleverly? He has been criticised that he isn't very creative, but when you play alongside an experienced player like Gerrard, he will soon learn. 

With the youngsters alongside Gerrard, hopefully, he will have a positive impact on the way England play. 

So maybe that's what England need, youth playing around Gerrard - who looks likely to retire from international duty after the World Cup next summer, which will then create another issue for whoever the England manager is at that time.

Now the three up front is an area where England have again struggled. With a certain Rooney starting every England game, depending if he is fit or not, the national team will need someone that can provide that goalscoring touch to take the pressure on Rooney's shoulders to deliver the goods. 

Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Jermaine Defoe, Andy Carroll, Wilfried Zaha - who has burst onto the scene, and now Rickie Lambert. 

With just two places to fill, it's a tough call to make. Welbeck works effortlessly, but his goalscoring record isn't great for neither club or country. Sturridge is struggling with injuries and hasn't played much despite impressing at Liverpool at the back end of last season. 

Carroll offers the height and strength which could also become an option for Hodgson, and likewise Lambert, who scored within three minutes of his debut last night with his first touch against Scotland, has surely put him in contention for more call-ups.  

My prediction for England's World Cup squad: 

Goalkeepers - Joe Hart, Ben Foster, Jack Butland 

Defenders - Kyle Walker, Glen Johnson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole, Steven Caulker. 

Midfielders - Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Jack Wilshire, Tom Cleverley, James Milner, Michael Carrick. 

Strikers - Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert, Alex Oxlade-Chamerlain, Andy Carroll. 

So what do you reckon? What chance does England have at the World Cup in 2014? Make sure you leave your comment.

 

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Topics:
England Football
Football
World Cup

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

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