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World Cup: Predicted England starting XI

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The 2014 FIFA World Cup is almost upon us. The world's best will come together in Brazil to compete for the most prestigious trophy in football.

England head into the competition as massive outsiders but that won't stop them going for glory. Here's who I think should start for the Three Lions...

Goalkeeper | Joe Hart  

Hart was subject heavy criticism earlier in the season after a series of high-profile mistakes saw him dropped from the Manchester City team.

Since then, however, he has steadied himself, regained form and has looked sturdy in goal during the Blues' title assault.

Whilst Fraser Forster has been impressive for Celtic, Hart should be the one to defend England's goal as he has done for a few years now.

Left-back | Leighton Baines

Despite being the best English full-back for a few years now, it was only last year that Baines nailed down the left-back role that Ashley Cole has dominated for so long for England.

Overcoming a mid-season injury and hitting form at just the right time for Everton, Baines should be one of the first names on the team sheet this summer.

Centre-back |  Gary Cahill

Forming part of Chelsea's sold backline all season, Cahill has earned himself a start in Brazil with his consistent form.

He has been a first-choice England centre-back for over a year now and there seems no reason why he shouldn't carry/

Centre Back | Ryan Shawcross

Many people's debate right now is whether Ryan Shawcross will be in England's World Cup squad, but it should be a case of whether he will start or not - and I think he should.

This may be a shock to some people, but who are the alternatives? Joleon Lescott has looked shaky when he has played this season, and Phil Jagielka hasn't exactly excelled.

Besides, Shawcross is no pushover himself. He recently hit 200 games for Stoke, hasn't had a bad game for quite a while now and doesn't look like letting up any time soon.

If played right, the Cahill/Shawcross combination could prove quite effective for Roy Hodgson.

Right-back | Glen Johnson

Johnson has been a regular in the Liverpool side this season and it should be no different for England. Johnson is a good crosser, an accurate tackler and has decent awareness.

Offering a consistent threat going forward and very good at balancing that with his defensive duties, Johnson is a player whose place in the team shouldn't be up for debate.

Centre-midfield (holding) | Steven Gerrard

With a lot of youth going forward, it is important to balance it out with some steadiness on the ball and Gerrard is the perfect man for the job.

The Liverpool-born midfielder has been in brilliant form all season and his link-up play with his club teammates cannot be underestimated or undervalued.

The ever adaptable 'Stevie G' is a Roy Hodgson favourite and you can be certain he'll be sitting in front of the defence patrolling the tempo from the first minute in Brazil.

Centre-midfield (box-to-box) | Ross Barkley

England need a wildcard in Brazil - a young, two-footed unpredictable player who will shock the opposition with his talent. Step up Ross Barkley.

The young Evertonian has shone this season and has stunned fans and pundits with his exceptional skill. A few masterclass goals from the young lad has enhanced his reputation too.

For me, it is a must that Barkley starts at the World Cup. England need a new set of ideas in their midfield and there is no one better to do that than young Ross.

Left-wing | Raheem Sterling

Out wide on the left, Hodgson has a choice of James Milner, Ashley Young and Sterling. Only one of those is a really classy winger and that is Sterling.

The exciting teen has hit six goals this season and cemented his place in a free scoring Liverpool attack. He has improved leaps and bounds since his first England cap last season, making better decisions, being more direct and his finishing is that of a centre forward's now.

Unpredictable players are always a key feature at World Cups and Sterling is just that.

Centre-forward | Wayne Rooney

The England team wouldn't be the same without the ever dependable Rooney. A big player in international tournaments, Rooney has had a fine season with 14 assists and 17 goals to his name.

If you are going to win the World Cup, you need world-class players and Rooney has proven this season that he still is one.

Not only is his goal tally excellent for England, his work-rate and all-round play will be the focal point for the team this summer.

Right-wing | Adam Lallana

A few months ago, people were debating about whether Lallana should go to Brazil. Now people are asking: 'Where will he play?'. His improvement has been that good.

Lallana's form for Southampton has been brilliant and they would not be in the same position that they are now without him. He is comfortable with the ball at his feet, can dictate tempo and offers a different dimension that no one else in the team can provide.

Determined, calm and quick players are always a good option for the team - qualities Lallana has shown for both club and country this term.

Striker | Daniel Sturridge

One of the easier decisions for Hodgson when he picks his team in a few months, Sturridge has gone from forgotten frontman to go-to goal-getter in just over 18 months.

His move to Liverpool has rejuvenated him and you can see the confidence in his play shining through. With 20 goals and seven assists in 25 games this season, Sturridge has surely cemented his place in the Three Lions' frontline.

There you have it, the 11 men I see fit to represent our country at the World Cup. Whether those players will start or even go is another question, but with that line up I really think we will compete when it comes to the kick-off in Brazil.

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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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