In light of England’s recent World Cup woes in Brazil, and tonight’s friendly against Norway, we thought it would be fitting to talk about hopes for the future England national team.
In spite of this, it is doubtful that many England fans would want to discuss, or even think about what the state of the senior team will be in the not-too-distant future.
Contrary to their failure to even qualify for the knockout stages – from a relatively forgiving group (England, Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica) – there are still plenty of reasons why I remain optimistic of our future, and so should my fellow countrymen.
The under-fire manager, Roy Hodgson, has already confirmed tonight’s line up: Joe Hart, John Stones, Phil Jones, Gary Cahill, Leighton Baines, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Wayne Rooney.
Without the services of the now-retired Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, Hodgson can now blood England’s young players without upsetting the more experienced players. For tonight’s match against Norway, the team will play in a narrow 4-4-2 diamond formation.
The current squad
This should suit players like Sterling, Henderson and Oxlade-Chamberlain, as they are all capable of playing in central areas. With Sterling playing behind the two strikers and acting as a’ third man running’, with the aforementioned midfielders surrounding him, the potential is there to destroy opposition defences.
These players in particular can create a well-rounded midfield. Blessed with pace, technical quality and energy, this quartet of players could become England’s first choice midfield for years to come.
Then in front, England are fortunate to have two extremely talented strikers in Liverpool hitman Daniel Sturridge, and Manchester United’s long-serving goalscorer, Wayne Rooney. Aged 24 and 28 respectively, this partnership still has plenty of years to improve and win games.
Despite the partnership being new, it should not take too long for the pair to combine efficiently, as Sturridge’s blistering pace and Rooney’s all-action style should quickly merge to create quite a formidable striking duo.
However, the senior team’s Achilles heel in recent years has been their defence. Ever since losing the likes of defensive rock John Terry and Jamie Carragher, England has struggled to produce top-class defenders. But, that may be about to change, with Everton’s 20-year-old defensive prospect John Stones making his international debut tonight.
He, along with Phil Jones, looks like becoming a key part of England’s back line in the future. Also, with players like Cahill and Baines showing their quality, things are beginning to look more promising for Hodgson.
Then, with a gifted goalkeeper like Joe Hart acting as the last line of defence, he is the last component to a hopefully solid spine for the national team. Renowned as an excellent shot-stopper who is able to rush off his line quickly and distribute the ball well, his place in the team surely bodes well for the near future.
Plus, there is good competition for Hart’s spot in Fraser Forster, Ben Foster and potentially, Jack Butland. Therefore, Roy Hodgson will not be over-reliant on one goalkeeper to keep the national team’s hopes alive.
Finally, one major factor towards England’s future success will be their quality in depth. With English players accounting for an all-time low of 31% of the Premier League, Hodgson has recently had a smaller pool of players to choose from than ever before. In response, academies are now starting to produce more quality home-grown talent.
Now, with players like Danny Welbeck, James Milner and Chris Smalling currently serving as back-up, there is an increasing mix of experience and youth which also contains some players with huge potential, such as Ross Barkley, Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw.
The fact that England’s youth sides are improving will also increase Hodgson’s pool of players as more young talents look to earn a place in the senior team – strengthening the England squad for the future.