F365's Famous World Cup Ladder...

Michael Carrick has jumped several places after starting the Montenegro match ahead of Frank Lampard, but we really miss Jack Wilshere. Hurry back, Jack...

Last Updated: 28/03/13 at 09:57 Post Comment

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The numbers in brackets refer to their position in the last England ladder - after the friendly against Brazil...

1 (1) - Jack Wilshere
Wilshere holds on to top spot with ease by virtue of England's insipid midfield performance when it mattered in the second half against Montenegro. Your country needs you, Jack.


2 (4) - Wayne Rooney
Six goals in his last five appearances for England, and seven in seven dating back to June 19 last year when Rooney returned from suspension at Euro 2012 to head Roy Hodgson's team to victory - and top spot in the group - against Ukraine. Rooney's form is one of the most encouraging aspects of England's qualifying campaign for World Cup 2014 and with such a paucity of centre-forward options it's vital that he remains injury and suspension-free in the next four matches.

Not long after taking over the national team, Hodgson expressed his eagerness to deploy Rooney as a second striker. "We all know Rooney is best in that position, as a No 10," said Hodgson before the Euros. "The fact that he is such a good player and can play in other positions, that's another matter. From my conversations with him, from all the games I've watched him play, I think he's extremely dangerous when he plays as a second striker."

However, the manager has since positioned Rooney at the spearhead of England's attack, from where he can occasionally drop deep and switch positions with Danny Welbeck. This worked to great effect in February's friendly victory over Brazil and there were encouraging signs in the first half against Montenegro before the team unravelled after the break.


3 (2) - Steven Gerrard
Gerrard's stop-start performance alongside Michael Carrick against Montenegro, which included several sloppy passes, was coupled with some confusing comments in the captain's pre and post-match interviews. According to Gerrard, it wasn't "the end of the world" if England failed to beat Montenegro but, after losing the lead in a frustrating 1-1 draw, he now thinks "we need to win all our games". Hmmm.


4 (3) - Joe Hart
A pleasant nap against San Marino and in the first half in Montenegro was followed by an all-action 45 minutes which Hart seemed to thoroughly enjoy. Despite a couple of nervy moments, the England number one was at his best to deny Mirko Vucinic and Dejan Damjanovic at the first attempt before the forward bundled the ball over the line. Ben Foster isn't a threat...yet.


5 (5) - Tom Cleverley
Cleverley has now started nine consecutive matches under Roy Hodgson and remains a firm part of the manager's plans despite his substitution for Ashley Young after a subdued display against Montenegro. 'What does he do exactly?' was the question in the mailbox on Wednesday morning. The answer is - enough to convince Hodgson he deserves a key role in the first team.


6 (8) - Danny Welbeck
Perhaps it was a mistake for Hodgson to rest Welbeck against San Marino when a goal could have boosted the forward's confidence in front of goal, but the manager's calculated decision underlined his faith in Welbeck for the big occasions. The 22-year-old has played in 12 of Hodgson's 15 matches so far, scoring five goals. It's an encouraging ratio but one that could and should be improved with more composure in the penalty area and a willingness to shoot.


7 (6) - Ashley Cole
A relatively poor performance against Montenegro should do little to harm Cole's grip on the left-back spot. We like Leighton Baines and his retro sideburns, but Cole's experience and usual reliability ensure he remains Hodgson's first pick.


8 (7) - Glen Johnson
Solid in defence and always an outlet going forward. Neither Kyle Walker or Carl Jenkinson (or the injured Micah Richards) offer enough of an alternative to cause Johnson sleepless nights.


9 (10) - James Milner
He's just so bloody hard-working. And he never gets injured. Have a rest, James. Take a holiday or something.


10 (9) - Theo Walcott
Not much was said of Walcott's absence after the winger picked up an injury in training, but England could have done with his pace and directness to relieve the second-half pressure against Montenegro.


11 (11) - Leighton Baines
He looked good against San Marino. Most of them looked good against San Marino.


12 (10) - Phil Jagielka
Jagielka started England's last three World Cup qualifiers before the March double header and we suspect he would have held onto his place had it not been for his ankle injury.


13 (20) - Michael Carrick
The biggest mover in the top 20 despite a statuesque performance in the second half against Montenegro. Carrick has started four of England's six qualifying matches for World Cup 2014 and Hodgson's confidence in the Manchester United midfielder was evidenced by his selection ahead of Frank Lampard for the Montenegro match. Until Wilshere can stay injury-free, Carrick's role is elevated from friendlies and turkey-shoots to the big matches that England are currently failing to win.


14 (19) - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The Ox brought his straw to the water against San Marino, but was left on the bench when the going got tough in Montenegro. "You're always debating changes, talking with your staff. But at 1-0, we weren't 100 per cent convinced there was a change we could make to make a vast difference to what was going on," said Hodgson after Tuesday's draw. It doesn't bode well for Oxlade-Chamberlain or the other members of the squad who were left to watch England throw away their lead.


15 (17) - Ashley Young
The one player Hodgson did feel could make a difference on Tuesday. Young also scored a spectacular strike against San Marino, but he has plenty of work to do to rediscover his 2011 form.


16 (16) - Gary Cahill
Four starts for England this season, but Cahill needs to stay fit if he is to finally secure the second centre-back spot.


17 (14) - Frank Lampard
He'll be happy with his goal against San Marino despite not featuring in Montenegro.


18 (13) - Joleon Lescott
Left out of the squad to England captain in the space of a week. Although Lescott wore the armband for the final half-hour against San Marino, he didn't do enough in Tuesday's tough test to cement his role as Hodgson's second centre-back, or overcome the challenge of Cahill or even Michael Dawson.


19 (24) - Jermain Defoe
He played, he scored, he can expect to be in the squad for the September qualifying matches.


20 (18) - Daniel Sturridge
Scored his first England goal against San Marino and we expect him to be pushing for a bigger role before too long if he can maintain his early form at Liverpool.


21 (NE) - Ben Foster
Answered his phone to Hodgson to take up a cosy seat on the bench.


22 (22) - Phil Jones
His recent performances for Manchester United suggest Jones could have a lot to offer England. Hopefully his growing pains will have subsided by 2014.


23 (23) - Fraser Forster
Included in several squads but yet to make his first England appearance. Being north of the border could harm Forster's chances next season now Foster has returned to the international fold and with Jack Butland set to take the gloves at Stoke if Asmir Begovic departs.


24 (30) - Chris Smalling
The only centre-back not to withdraw from the original squad. That's got to count for something, right?


25 (NE) - Michael Dawson
Dawson hasn't played for England since starting a 2-0 win over Wales in March 2011, but his inclusion in Hodgson's original squad suggests he's a leading candidate to plug the hole in defence. At 29, Dawson is the perfect age to step into the first-team, while he has also overcome Andre Villas-Boas' concerns over whether he could play in a defensive high-line to become a regular starter at Spurs this season. He must be relieved he rejected that move to QPR.


26 (26) - Kyle Walker
There is nothing to add to Sarah Winterburn's February assessment: '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 (NE) - Rio Ferdinand
He was out, then he was in, and now it's difficult to know where Rio is after he skipped the squad for training reasons before heading to Qatar to analyse England's performances on Al Jazeera. Hodgson has said he will still consider Ferdinand for selection, while the defender expressed his desire to be in future squads. Watch this space.


28 (27) - Leon Osman
Came on against San Marino and ran around a bit.


29 (34) - Steven Caulker
He's bought a ticket to the England centre-back lottery.


30 (43) - Scott Parker
We thought his England career was finished. Why on earth Hodgson brought Parker on against San Marino and then left him on the bench when a player of his ilk was required in the second half against Montenegro is beyond us.


31 (21) - Andy Carroll
His stalling career needs a jump start.


32 (25) - Aaron Lennon
Walcott's injury would have given Lennon the chance to start against San Marino had it not been for his own fitness problems.


33 (15) - Jack Butland
The brothers Fo(r)ster threaten his inclusion in the near future, with Butland's role hinging on a potential Stoke exit for Asmir Begovic.


34 (39) - Wilfried Zaha
A brilliant goal for England U-21s in a 3-0 victory over Romania continues to raise hopes that Zaha will be ready for first-team duty by summer 2014 (should England complete the job of qualifying in the meantime).


35 (42) - Stewart Downing
Selected when he wasn't in form for last summer's Euros, but omitted from the squad on this occasion when his recent performances for Liverpool have been arguably better than Ashley Young's at Manchester United.


36 (29) - Jordan Henderson
Left out of the squad along with Downing despite a run of encouraging performances for Liverpool since December.


37 (28) - Gareth Barry
We think it's curtains for Barry's England career. But then we also thought that about Scott Parker.


38 (31) - Jonjo Shelvey
We like him and you should too. There's fire in his belly and there are times when England need that.


39 (36) - Kieran Gibbs
Being the third-best southpaw isn't much to shout about.


40 (35) - Jack Rodwell
Will he make it to 30 with fewer than 20 England caps?


41 (38) - Carl Jenkinson
42 (32) - Adam Johnson
43 (40) - Ryan Bertrand
44 (33) - Raheem Sterling
45 (49) - Micah Richards
46 (NE) - Adam Lallana
47 (45) - Rickie Lambert
48 (46) - Jake Livermore
49 (NE) - Nathaniel Chalobah
50 (50) - Phil Neville


Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

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