Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sport: England's 23


Goalkeepers

Forster The guy's a rock for Celtic. Yeah, you have to take into account who he plays for, but he has a record of a clean sheet every two games across all formats. That's a ridiculous record to have.

Foster Okay, so the guy's got a tendency to make mistakes that cost England, but he's the only real option for the no. 2 shirt unless you want to take two rookies.

Hart Obvious England no. 1, especially after reaffirming his place with City.

Defence

Baines In my mind he should be England's first choice LB. I've never been much of a fan of Ashley Cole - although I begrudgingly admit he may be better defensively - but with him losing his place in the Chelsea team I can't see how he'd be above the Everton first-choice in the pecking order.

Cahill Him and Terry have been a rock in the heart of the Chelsea defence (cliché!) which has to make him one of the top choice CBs in the England team.

Jagielka The other of England's first-choice centre backs for a while, and as far as I'm concerned should remain that way without a credible alternative. (I'll come onto Terry and Rio in a bit)

G. Johnson An offensive threat, and probably England's best right-back, although considering the competition that's not a great achievement. 

Jones Probably won't get near the starting XI but a versatile player to have in reserve. Can play pretty much anywhere across the back, and also in the midfield. Will probably be used in the extreme Brazilian heat.

Shaw A slightly controversial pick over Cole. However Shaw's been playing excellently for Southampton this year, whereas Cole seems to have lost his place in the Chelsea line-up. Building for the future may not be priority at a major tournament, but with Baines as no.1 Shaw being around a World Cup can only be beneficial.

Walker A pretty solid back-up for Johnson that can be called on if necessary.

Midfielders

Barkley Ross Barkley has impressed a whole host of people with his performances for Everton this season, and his creative spark is something which England can seriously lack.

Carrick The guy when it comes to playing a holding role. It'd be ludicrous not to have him in the squad, even if to just protect that slender 1-0 win over Costa Rica.

Oxlade-Chamberlain Walcott is unfortunately injured for Rio, but what better replacement to have Walcott 2.0? The exact same career trajectory, but with the added benefit of actually developing rather than stalling.

Gerrard Brendan Rodgers seems to have got Stevie G playing back to his best. Leading an often rampant Liverpool team he's surely the best person to lead the Three Lions in South America.

A. Johnson Not a popular choice, but Johnson's performances to drag Sunderland back to the bring of safety deserves a spot on the plane by itself - in my opinion. Has the very real talent of being able to pull something out of nothing, and another creative spark.

Lallana Why wouldn't you want the Southampton skipper? Grabbing all the headlines this year, and deservedly so. Set-up Sturridge for the winner against Denmark if you want an example of what 'impact' means.

Milner A slightly more defensive option who will run all day long. Flying forward isn't the only thing you want in football, and Milner does a good job of covering and tracking back that some others may not.

Forwards

Carroll Carroll gives a different approach to that of Sturridge and Rooney. England are often one-dimensional, and having a target man on the bench could work well in those last ditch attempts to rescue a draw against Italy.

Rooney Does this one actually need explaining?

Sterling He's seemingly been able to tear defences apart this season, and with his pace and skill he's always a threat to make something happen.

Sturridge Based on recent form this is the Liverpool striker you want on the plane. Scoring at (as little as makes no difference) a goal a game this season he's a sure fire pick.

Townsend Deserves his place just for how much better England look whenever he plays. Tottenham seem to have fallen slightly out of love with him recently, but the spark he provides to England means that it would be a shame not to give him a chance on 'the big stage'.

Welbeck Has a goal every other game in the Premier League and 8 goals in 21 England caps - although you may level the same criticism as people do at Crouch, that he seems to not turn up in the 'big' games.

Omissions

John Terry Even despite his retirement from international football Terry's issues with race make him unselectable for me.

Rio Ferdinand Seems past it, and has also retired.

Ashley Cole Certainly a good player, but Baines would be my first choice, and I'd rather see Shaw take the experience from playing. Plus he's not making the Chelsea team either, and never seems to give 100% in England tournaments.

Chris Smalling Has never convinced me, and I just feel that England have better options. Jones beats him just, but his versatility definitely works for him.

Jack Wilshere Never seems to spark things for England, plus is habitually injured which doesn't help his case.

Jordan Henderson A great asset to the Liverpool team this year, but to me doesn't have the same creativity that England lack that Barkley or Lallana has. He's still got many years ahead of him. Don't you worry.

Stats

Average Age - 25.5 years
Average Caps - 23 caps
Average League Apps - 225 apps
Premier League Captains - 3 (Jagielka, Gerrard, Lallana)

Total Premier League Goals - 556
Players with 100+ PL Goals - 2 (Gerrard, Rooney)

Total International Goals - 84
Players with 10+ International Goals - 2 (Gerrard, Rooney)

Starting XI / Formation


The GK pretty much picks itself. Joe Hart is the only real choice here, personally I'd prefer Fraser Forster on the bench but I assume it'll be Foster. Then Glen Johnson at right back with free-kick specialist Leighton Baines on the other. Cahill and Jagielka being solid in the middle. I honestly can't see a different line-up (unless you picked Cole, but even then I'd pick this back four)

Gerrard and Carrick in the middle, providing cover for the back four, or probably Barkley instead of the latter to provide something more attacking - with more flair.  Sterling and Ox destroying full-backs with their pace, and putting the ball into the middle where Sturridge and Rooney will be waiting to pounce.

I think playing Sturridge out wide didn't really work against Denmark, and he looks much more dangerous when in the centre, which would also give Rooney a free-role as he so often does with United. He often drops deep to get the ball, but often with England that's then left nobody up front.

Anyway, I'm sure this'll cause a whole load of debate so tell me your dream 23! Pick yours here.

(If you ever talk to me about this I'll probably have changed my mind)

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