The First Hodgson World Cup Ladder

You asked. And we deliver. Here's our idea of how Roy Hodgson's squad is looking for World Cup 2014. Unlike some folk, we won't pretend there'll be an overhaul...

Last Updated: 27/06/12 at 21:58 Post Comment

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The numbers in brackets refer to their position in the last England ladder - in November 2011 following friendly wins over Spain and Sweden.

1 (1) - Joe Hart
We enjoyed his gurning in the quarter-final penalty shoot-out rather more than his efforts to actually save the spot-kicks, but it's difficult to fault the 120 minutes that went before. The occasionally nervous Hart looked far from invincible in Ukraine but he's pretty much untouchable in terms of the England No. 1 jersey. We rather wished that something spectacular would happen in 2012 that would shift Hart from our top rung but there he remains. At least until No 2) gets fit.

2 (4) - Jack Wilshere
We really, really hoped that Wilshere would tumble down this ladder during Euro 2012 but hearts actually grew fonder in his absence as we bemoaned the lack of a midfielder who understands and actually craves possession-based football. Harry Redknapp has already said he should be England's fulcrum (though obviously he did not use the word 'fulcrum') and we're inclined to reluctantly agree. He's a top, top player.

3 (3) - Ashley Cole
Barring that penalty, there was nothing wrong with Ashley Cole's performance in Ukraine. And there's little to suggest that in two years' time - when he will be 33 - he will be significantly worse, or significantly less likely to be England's only realistic option at left-back.

4 (8) - Steven Gerrard
'Assuming he's fit and assuming he's in any kind of form, Gerrard will be in the middle of the '3' in a 4-2-3-1 at the European Championship', I wrote back in November, when Fabio Capello was still in charge and we could make all sorts of assumptions about England's likely formation. The manager and the methods have changed, and Gerrard - now captain - has seen his position strengthen after a barnstorming Euro 2012. With careful management of his fitness, expect him to be there in 2014.

5 (10) - Glen Johnson
People worry about him. They shouldn't. He's been England's first-choice right-back since November 2008 and he's made only a handful of mistakes. Despite his excellence at Euro 2012, people will still splutter 'what about Micah Richards?' or 'what about Kyle Walker?'. He's the reverse Richards in that managers like him rather more than fans and journalists. Luckily for him, it's managers who pick football teams.

6 (21) - Danny Welbeck
That a nation groaned when he was hooked rather than Wayne Rooney in the quarter-final against Italy was not merely a judgement on the frankly rotten Rooney, but an acknowledgement that Welbeck had not looked out of his depth at international level. As long as he is playing regularly for Manchester United, Welbeck will inevitably be in and around Roy Hodgson's England side. We just wish they didn't insist on calling him 'Welbz'. What's wrong with 'Danny'?

7 (20) - Joleon Lescott
'Barring a car crash of a post-Xmas season, those 90 minutes will probably earn him a place on the plane,' we said after the Spain match. Those 90 minutes - and an almost error-free six months for the title winners - did indeed earn him a place on the plane. Gary Cahill's injury then earned him a place in the starting line-up, from where he made a mockery of pre-tournament fears of an injury crisis in the absence of Rio Ferdinand. Now it's the job of Cahill and co to shift him. And he's a big lad.

8 (6) - Wayne Rooney
We know he's been rubbish for England, you know he's been rubbish for England. But it will take a brave England manager to eschew the claims of England's most prolific goalscorer and occasionally prodigious talent. Somehow we don't think Hodgson is that brave England manager.

9 (7) - John Terry
He'll be two years older in Brazil, but it's difficult to see him being a whole lot slower.

10 (5) - Ashley Young
Barring the opening half-hour against France, Ashley Young had a pretty pathetic Euro 2012, culminating in one of the most predictable penalty misses in recent football history. But we should not forget he was England's best player in qualifying for Euro 2012. He will inevitably get more chances...which he'll crash against the bar.

11 (38) - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
You can't help thinking that if he'd been a year and another 30 Premier League appearances down the line, he would have figured more in Ukraine. Now he just has to hope Arsene Wenger gives him those games.

12 (2) - Scott Parker
'From the wilderness to undroppable in nine short months,' was our verdict in November but after seeing him dead on his feet after 60 minutes of pretty much every game in Ukraine, you wonder whether Parker - two draining years down the line - will be a starter in Brazil. Surely we will have other midfield options (Wilshere, Jack Rodwell, Tom Cleverley) by 2014? Surely?

13 (15) - James Milner
Perhaps you might think that Milner should be higher up this list after starting every game of Euro 2012. Perhaps we're being over-optimistic in thinking that Milner's application made him a sensible option in Ukraine but that in the long term, he might be an enthusiastic squad member rather than a shoo-in for the starting XI. Glass half-full and all that.

14 (13) - Gareth Barry
Those people who claim after every tournament failure that a new broom needs to sweep away old rubbish usually puts Barry in the pile of 'old rubbish', but a starting midfielder for the Premier League champions is going to figure for the national team. Accept it. Get used to it. And remember that the alternative might be Jordan Henderson.

15 (12) - Theo Walcott
Roy Hodgson's go-to player for impact at Ukraine will surely start more games when World Cup qualifying starts in the autumn.

16 (28) - Andy Carroll
His goal against Sweden was excellent and stood out in a tournament of excellent headers. That was exactly what he was on the pitch to produce and he will be a viable Plan B for as long as he is playing often enough for Liverpool to stay fit and mobile. Can he play in a Brendan Rodgers' possession-greedy side? Well, if Danny Graham can do it...

17 (16) - Gary Cahill
But for the hand of Dries Mertens, Gary Cahill would have started Euro 2012 alongside John Terry. Joleon Lescott's performances in his stead should earn loyalty but Cahill - at 26 - remains a long-term option and should be a squad stalwart as long as he's playing Champions League football.

18 (27) - Robert Green
Securing a Premier League contract with QPR should keep him in the mix for as long as he resists the urge to 'do a Foster' and take his gloves home.

19 (14) - Darren Bent
Would Jermain Defoe have been at Euro 2012 if Darren Bent was fully fit? Only Mr Hodgson knows. There's a big, big season ahead for Bent - a 15-goal campaign will make him impossible to ignore.

20 (17) - Phil Jones
Rio Ferdinand thinks Phil Jones should have played more (ie. some) football at Euro 2012. Not for the first time, we're rather thankful Rio Ferdinand isn't in charge of England. This summer Phil Jones was nowhere near ready but we expect him to move up this list rather rapidly if he becomes a master of one trade.

21 (9) - Stewart Downing
He was there...which suggests that Roy Hodgson rates him. He didn't play a single minute...which suggests that it might have all been a cruel joke.

22 (19) - Leighton Baines
Firmly extablished as England's second-choice left-back. And we quite like his hair. That is all.

23 (NE) - John Ruddy
England's No. 3 No. 1 as it stands right now.

24 (29) - Kyle Walker
Whether Roy Hodgson would have ever taken a second specialist right-back to Euro 2012 is debatable but 'Walker' is certainly a name we can expect to see in future squads. It's certainly more likely than 'Richards'.

25 (11) - Frank Lampard
Although he has adapted his game this season to take account for diminishing energy, we simply cannot see him being in Brazil as a 36-year-old. Let's face it, he ain't no Andrea Pirlo or Paul Scholes.

26 (25) - Phil Jagielka
Right now, Gary Cahill's Champions League football keeps him ahead of the thoroughly decent Jagielka. Rio who?

27 (32) - Jermain Defoe
He'd better hope the new Tottenham boss is a fan of diminutive strikers who are rather good at shooting but precious little else.

28 (NE) - Jack Butland
He's already been to a major tournament. That makes him better than Ryan Giggs.

29 (48) - Jordan Henderson
Not even Xavi can boast a 100% pass completion rate from Euro 2012.

30 (31) - Jack Rodwell
Henry Winter loves him. Henry Winter isn't England manager. But by the time 2014 comes around, he might even be getting regular football with Everton.

31 (24) - Adam Johnson
On stand-by for Euro 2012. You suspect he might need to move clubs to move any higher up this ladder. But is he too 'Bertie' to join a club outside the Champions League?

32 (33) - Daniel Sturridge
See above.

33 (26) - Chris Smalling
Keeps getting injured at the wrong time. One of these days...

34 (42) - Martin Kelly
The name that sent Man United fans/journalists into apoplexy when he was called up to replace Gary Cahill as Rio Ferdinand stayed at home. Hodgson obviously rates him from his (brief) Liverpool days.

35 (NE) - Kieran Gibbs
We've said it time and time again - if an English player can stay fit and play regularly for an English side in the Champions League, the chances are that he will forge an England career. Unless...

36 (35) - Micah Richards're daft enough to turn down a stand-by spot in a new manager's squad for a major tournament.

37 (NE) - Grant Holt
Will he still be the lump de jour next season?

38 (34) - Tom Cleverley
Needs a run of more than about three games in a United shirt.

39 (23) - David Stockdale
At the end of a longish queue of keepers who can just about spot Joe Hart in the distance.

40 (39) - Joe Cole
Brendan Rodgers says he'll give Joe Cole a chance. Will Roy?

41 (36) - Gaby Agbonlahor
42 (41) - Steven Taylor
43 (22) - Bobby Zamora
44 (40) - Peter Crouch
45 (47) - Aaron Lennon
46 (44) - Michael Dawson
47 (46) - Danny Simpson
48 (NE) - Leon Osman
49 (NE) - Ryan Bertrand
50 (50) - Phil Neville

Sarah Winterburn

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