F365's Famous World Cup Ladder...

Woo-ho. we couldn't be any happier at Jack Wilshere being back, back, back at the top of the ladder. We're feeling a little sad about the complete dearth of centre-halves mind...

Last Updated: 07/02/13 at 15:53 Post Comment

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The numbers in brackets refer to their position in the last England ladder - after the San Marino/Poland qualifiers


1 (2) - Jack Wilshere
Glory be to the highest. And when we say 'highest', we mean Jack Wilshere wobbling atop this ladder once again. Be careful, Jack. Hold on with both hands. Wear a harness.


2 (3) - Steven Gerrard
Gerrard and the manchild above him in this list are genuinely the best English central midfielders in the Premier League. We've waited two-and-a-half years since Wilshere's England debut to see them start together and, against Brazil, there were signs that it was worth the very impatient wait. We're excited about this. You might have noticed.


3 (1) - Joe Hart
Awful against Sweden, brilliant against Brazil, but the individual performances matter not a jot - he is England's best goalkeeping option by the kind of the distance that interests Mo Farah.


4 (5) - Wayne Rooney
Funnily enough, he looked a whole lot better with Wilshere, Gerrard and Cleverley taking turns to join him in attack (v Brazil) than in partnership with Jermain Defoe in front of a static midfield featuring Gerrard and Michael Carrick (v Poland). Whether you love him or believe him to be wildly overrated, you have to admit that an in-form and inspired Rooney is undroppable. The rest of the footballing world would soil themselves laughing if they heard people wonder otherwise.


5 (8) - Tom Cleverley
Seven consecutive England starts suggests that Roy Hodgson is a massive fan, which is grand news for Cleverley and for those of us who like to see a midfielder receive the ball on the half-turn (rarer than it should be amongst Englishmen). Manchester United fans tend to leap to the defence of Cleverley whenever he is unfavourably compared to Wilshere but there really is no need: If the impressive Cleverley is 95% to Wilshere's 100%, that's phenomenal news for England and not bad at all for United.


6 (4) - Ashley Cole
It's become 'the left-back debate' because Leighton Baines has been rather good this season, but the Evertonian is still in second place and will remain there until after the 2014 World Cup when the Chelsea left-back retires to tend his allotment.


7 (6) - Glen Johnson
England's first-choice right-back for over four years. There's absolutely no reason to change that now. He's a more-than-decent full-back having a more-than-decent season.


8 (9) - Danny Welbeck
He's 7/10 at a fair few things (holding up the ball, tracking back, winning the ball in the air, bringing other players into the game) but he's 3/10 at quite a few things that matter (shooting, the final pass, intentionally deceiving defenders). Should that combination be good enough to make him an England regular? Well, it worked for Emile Heskey.


9 (15) - Theo Walcott
He petrifies defenders. It's a very handy trait. What he cannot apparently do is petrify Roy Hodgson as the plan to 'get in his face' to secure a striking place was something of a flop. We like to think Roy just smiled kindly before putting him on the right.


10 (7) - James Milner
He's awful handy to have around. If England get to Brazil, so will Milner. You can't help but think he might struggle with the heat, mind. Factor 50, James.


11 (16) - Leighton Baines
We're slightly worried that we've arrived at a second-choice left-back before a first-choice centre-back.


12 (10) - Phil Jagielka
This is something of an educated guess based on the solid but unspectacular Jagielka starting England's last three World Cup qualifiers. It's an educated guess that's making us feel really quite sad.


13 (11) - Joleon Lescott
Still sad.


14 (26) - Frank Lampard
Noises about a new Chelsea contract, Roy Hodgson's suggestion that staying in Europe would make things less 'complicated' and the obvious usefulness of having Lampard as an option off the bench are combining to make his presence at the 2014 World Cup (where he will be turning 36) more and more likely.


15 (18) - Jack Butland
For possibly the first time in football history, a move to Stoke has probably guaranteed a World Cup place.


16 (19) - Gary Cahill
Started four games for England this season - but that equates to three friendlies and the stroll against San Marino. Dropped a bollock against Brazil but we're in no position to start ruling out centre-halves just because they've dropped a bollock. If we stuck to that policy, we'd be bollock-less.


17 (17) - Ashley Young
We're kind of assuming that a fit Ashley Young is still in Roy Hodgson's plans.


18 (36) - Daniel Sturridge
'Needs that January move to Liverpool or Tottenham' is what we said last time around. He got it. He's been great. He's been duly bumped.


19 (12) - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The Lord Mayor's Show is having an intermission.


20 (20) - Michael Carrick
Remember when he said he didn't want to be considered for England if he was always on the bench? Time for a conversation, Roy?


21 (13) - Andy Carroll
Carroll or Defoe? Carroll or Defoe? Carroll or Defoe? If he's playing and scoring goals, Carroll is probably ahead of Defoe on the grounds that he offers something truly different. And we don't mean traces of horse DNA.


22 (21) - Phil Jones
Just the kind of 'jack of all trades' type that end up at major tournaments. Which is a shame for specialist right-backs who get left behind looking rather better on photographs.


23 (30) - Fraser Forster
There are so few English goalkeepers of any note that Hodgson named only two in his squad to play Brazil. Ouch.


24 (14) - Jermain Defoe
Started England's last competitive game. Unlikely to start the next one.


25 (27) - Aaron Lennon
We're not entirely sure he touched the ball in his 15 minutes v Brazil. But at least he got 15 minutes v Brazil - which suggests he may be moving closer to usurping that upstart Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.


26 (25) - Kyle Walker
Appears to be over an early-season plunge in form but still only a second-choice specialist right-back when second-choice specialist right-backs rarely reach tournaments.


27 (45) - Leon Osman
Did enough against Sweden to earn himself another call-up against Brazil. His biggest threat may come from across Merseyside in the shape of the much younger Jordan Henderson.


28 (24) - Gareth Barry
Victim of a desire to shed at least some of the old, failing guard.


29 (47) - Jordan Henderson
The current captain of the England Under-21s will soon be available full-time to Hodgson who - lest we forget - took Henderson to Ukraine last summer. And we don't mean on a bizarre camping trip.


30 (43) - Chris Smalling
It was almost a year between England starts against Netherlands and Brazil for Smalling, who has the slight problem that he's simply not playing often enough in central defence for his club. That's partly about persistent injuries and partly because he's currently fourth or fifth choice. Probably misses out to Phil Jones on the 'jack of all trades' front simply because he has one fewer trade.


31 (22) - Jonjo Shelvey
It was all going so well. And then came that game against Stoke on Boxing Day. We miss his bantz.


32 (28) - Adam Johnson
A mid-table player playing mid-table football for a mid-table side. His time has passed.


33 (40) - Raheem Sterling
His time is still to come.


34 (31) - Steven Caulker
He's probably hoping Mr Hodgson didn't see his performance against Leeds. He probably did.


35 (29) - Jack Rodwell
Can't stay fit enough for long enough.


36 (32) - Kieran Gibbs
See above.


37 (23) - John Ruddy
England's No. 4? Does it matter to anybody but him?


38 (33) - Carl Jenkinson
He must be cursing Bacary Sagna. He's not the only one.


39 (NE) - Wilfried Zaha
The minute he agreed to join Manchester United was the minute he became a viable option for 2014.


40 (38) - Ryan Bertrand
He has a left foot.

41 (34) - Ryan Shawcross

42 (41) - Stewart Downing

43 (35) - Scott Parker

44 (NE) - Andre Wisdom

45 (49) - Rickie Lambert

46 (39) - Jake Livermore

47 (37) - Darren Bent

48 (46) - Scott Sinclair

49 (44) - Micah Richards

50 (50) - Phil Neville

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