Roy Hodgson’s England team go into this tournament with next to no hype from the English public (for once) as confidence seems to be at an all time low. Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney is still struggling for international form and fitness having sustained a groin injury in the final few weeks of the Premier League season. Having yet to register a goal at a World Cup tournament, the sometimes petulant forward man will hope to banish a disappointing season with Manchester United and inspire England to something great.
England’s World Cup Squad below
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Manager: Roy Hodgson
A difficult group looms for England as Italy and Uruguay pose the greatest threat to their qualification from the group stage. Luiz Suarez looks set to be fit following minor knee surgery and the Italians are starting to get into their stride following the 5-3 mauling of Brazilian club side Fluminense.
On the back of a dismal display in in South Africa where England, led by then manager Fabio Capello (now managing the Russian National team) managed a paltry three goals, Roy’s men have much to do to be considered a threat at this years World Cup. . However there have been several major positives this season, including the impressive form Daniel Sturridge has shown for Liverpool plus the emergence of Southampton’s Adam Lallana, Everton’s Ross Barkley, Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and the young English left back everyone is trying to sign, Luke Shaw. With the core of the team seemingly made up of the Liverpool side that very nearly won the league title this season (Johnson, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Sturridge) perhaps Paul Scholes was right when he said that England need to play the Liverpool way. If Hodgson can get Rooney and Welbeck firing on all cylinders and integrate an array of young attacking talent into this England team then a bleak summer could very quickly turn into a summer of renewed hope.
Feature Editor Dominic Hanley’s prediction
I firmly believe a quarter-final place is well within England’s capabilities. Many have said they will fail to get out of the group phase and that I seem to “optimistic”, but why go to the tournament if you don’t think you can do something? As a collective unit England are a decent side that can frustrate even the best of opposition. The England players can enter this tournament knowing the pressure is off as the expectation levels are the lowest they have been in years. Let us not forgot also, that of every England manager in recent history Hodgson is the only one to have had tournament experience prior to taking the job. He led Switzerland to the World Cup in 1994. So if anyone knows what tournament football is like, it is him.
The English fans will need to get behind their team in Brazil but do not expect too much from an England team that have their limitations.