F365's Famous World Cup Ladder

We've reluctantly made Andros Townsend a massive climber but Adam Lallana is still outside the 23. We're feeling a little bit sad that Danny Welbeck is no. 7...

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The numbers in brackets refer to their position in the last England ladder - after the Montenegro/Poland qualifiers in October. And remember - it's our attempt to work out what Roy Hodgson thinks, not our own opinion.


1 (1) - Wayne Rooney
'The return of Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge will help to get the best out of Rooney,' were the words of our Matt Stanger in his ratings for England's defeat to Chile. That didn't exactly go to plan, did it? Rooney's performance against Germany was exactly the same as his performances for Manchester United this season (plenty of effort, brief moments of incision, dispossessed far too easily) but without the goals. Is he flawed? Yes. Does he still offer the most threat of any Englishman? Emphatically yes.


2 (2) - Steven Gerrard
A muted performance against Germany but we can attribute that to a) a lack of fitness and b) having to babysit Tom Cleverley. There are those who refuse to see Gerrard's qualities (and those who refuse to see his qualities despite trying twice to sign him) but there are few more talented and motivated players currently in the England squad. Well, there's one - he's above him in this list.


3 (3) - Joe Hart
'Can we move on now?' we asked hopefully last month. And then he had a brainfade against Chelsea and we were back talking about Fraser Forster as if he's somehow suddenly, magically better than Hart (he isn't). Against Germany Hart made enough quality saves to mask one rush of blood to the head and maybe even justify a recall for Manchester City. Now can we move on?


4 (4) - Glen Johnson
We had kind of hoped that these two England friendlies would spawn a 'highest climber in the chart', the like of which we've rarely seen since the hit parades of the 1980s; a highest climber who looked like scoring goals would have been nice. But no, we're still looking at Glen Johnson as our fourth-most important player.


5 (6) - Phil Jagielka
Acquitted himself better than any other English centre-half this week. Look up 'damning with faint praise' in the dictionary and you will see that first sentence.


6 (5) - Gary Cahill
The good news for us is that they look far, far better together than they ever do apart; the good news for Cahill is that Roy Hodgson has ruled out a recall for John Terry and remains utterly unconvinced about Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker.


7 (8) - Danny Welbeck
In absentia, he shone. No goals scored by England in the last three games missed by Welbeck (Ukraine, Chile, Germany) will have elevated him even further in Hodgson's mind. Jay Rodriguez failed in his audition to be Welbeck on Friday night while Adam Lallana probably did just about enough to earn himself a call-back. Welbeck may never be in complete control of his limbs but eight goals in 20 England games is a compelling case for his inclusion. That he's at no 7) on this list is making us weep a little.


8 (10) - Ashley Cole
Included by Hodgson in his nominally first-choice XI v Germany and we still believe he will get the nod when England are playing a better class of opposition. Surely the sensible option is to play Cole when there's actual defending to be done and Leighton Baines when the emphasis is on attack. Poor Kieran Gibbs.


9 (11) - Leighton Baines
Everton apparently want £20m. And this story emerged after Friday night v Chile.


10 (7) - Jack Wilshere
He's making life awfully difficult for those of us who have been banging the drum marked 'Wilshere and Gerrard' with no little enthusiasm over the last two years. We still believe that this is the dream midfield pairing for Hodgson but Wilshere's rotten form for club and country (is he simply not actually fit?) is making it increasingly hard to argue Gerrard/Wilshere above Gerrard/Carrick. After seeing the gap between the midfield and forwards on Tuesday night, we're tempted to start arguing Wilshere/Gerrard/Carrick instead.


11 (14) - Michael Carrick
Like Welbeck, his stock rose in absentia as four different central midfielders struggled against Chile and Germany. The answer against better sides is clearly to play three in the middle with Carrick keeping things ticking along and then going off at the 70-minute mark (like he did against Poland) when he starts getting fatigued or England need a goal.


12 (9) - Daniel Sturridge
You can't blame Hodgson for trying. He has two English strikers scoring goals and it was a qualified (and qualifying) success against Montenegro and Poland, so it's only to be expected that he gave Rooney and Sturridge the rather more difficult task of making their mark against Germany. It didn't work. Sturridge loses the ball an awful lot in a Liverpool shirt with a poor first touch; with England against excellent opposition it's rather more noticeable. We finally have another in-form English striker but the lesson from Tuesday night is that we don't always have to play both.


13 (12) - Theo Walcott
'For now Walcott still has the shirt,' is what we said last month but that comes with a caveat: His return to fitness if no longer enough. He must have felt smugly safe in the England team with only James Milner for competition but the emergence of Andros Townsend has given him a new challenge. It's now simple: he must be better. At this point, those of you saying 'why not play both?' have presumably forgotten Hodgson's love for Welbeck. You should see somebody about your short-term memory loss.


14 (22) - Andros Townsend
"Very quick and dynamic," is what Joachim Low said on Monday about Andros Townsend, who is indeed very quick and dynamic. That he is also predictable and wasteful as an unfortunate by-product of all this speed and dynamism is almost irrelevant; Townsend makes it possible for England to transition very quickly from defence to attack and at the moment that looks like our best chance of success. Are we convinced that he's actually any good? No. Do we currently object to him being in the side? Again, no. This makes us sad.


15 (13) - James Milner
Useful. Like a potato masher.


16 (15) - Frank Lampard
Involved in eight England games before the clash with Germany that he was always going to miss. Does that sound like a player who is being eased out of the reckoning? An awful lot depends on him keeping his place for Chelsea post-January.


17 (17) - Ben Foster
We're assuming he's second choice until he's available and not picked.


18 (18) - Chris Smalling
Started at centre-half against Germany despite playing just 45 minutes in that position in the Premier League this season and Hodgson was impressed. As was Per Mertesacker, presumably.


19 (19) - Phil Jones
You can carp all you want but this pair are England's third and fourth-choice centre-backs and right-back. When given two friendlies with which to experiment, Hodgson ignored the claims of Caulker, Dawson or Curtis Davies. He's made his bed and he's lying in it with this particularly unattractive quartet. Queasy yet?


20 (28) - Fraser Forster
Benefiting from John Ruddy's rotten form for Norwich.


21 (16) - Tom Cleverley
It's difficult to argue that Cleverley currently offers enough to be in Hodgson's World Cup squad. Actually, it's so difficult that we won't even make the attempt. There are moments (that reverse ball for Sturridge v Germany) when you see a glimpse of what Cleverley could become, but those moments are suffocated by the anonymous bulk of his work. Right now he's not as good as Jordan Henderson but far, far more likely to go to Brazil.


22 (27) - Ross Barkley
Usurping the wounded Ox in the 'technically excellent but built like a brick s**thouse' role.


23 (23) - Andy Carroll
Eight goals between now and the end of the season and he will be on the plane. But first he must somehow hobble onto the pitch.


24 (22) - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Faces twin tasks of getting back in the Arsenal and England sides when he is finally fit. It could be worse - he could be Ashley Young.


25 (20) - John Ruddy
Is it significant that Forster was picked ahead of him for the Chile game? Is it significant that we almost always type 'Declan' instead of 'John' in the first instance?


26 (43) - Adam Lallana
"He's been a major find," said Hodgson of a player who - probably more than anybody else on this ladder - has the appetite to do something different. He also has an excellent work-rate and that combination is a rarity to be treasured. The problem for Lallana is that his World Cup fate is inextricably tied to Southampton's fortunes. No outfield player in Hodgson's latest squad plays outside the top eight; Southampton probably have to stay there to keep Lallana in the reckoning.


27 (26) - Kyle Walker
Always named in other 'who's on the plane?' lists but we're sticking by our theory that you don't take two specialist right-backs in a squad of 23 when you have Smalling and Jones as 'master of none' options.


28 (25) - Rickie Lambert
Let's face it, he doesn't want to have to take him.


29 (32) - Kieran Gibbs
He'll be much higher in our Euro Ladder ahead of 2016.


30 (35) - Jordan Henderson
Produced England's pass of the night to find Sturridge on Tuesday but there's always the air of 'not quite' about Henderson. And for some reason Hodgson prefers the 'not quite' stylings of Cleverley.


31 (29) - Jermain Defoe
Slip-sliding away...


32 (24) - Ashley Young
Slip-sliding a-way...


33 (37) - Ravel Morrison
The problem is that Hodgson is running out of chances to take a look.


34 (30) - Steven Caulker
He went to Cardiff to give himself a chance of reaching the World Cup. If he'd said that out loud to enough people, somebody would have stopped him going.


35 (36) - Gareth Barry
Not to be ruled out as a stand-in for Carrick in the 'ticking over' role.


36 (33) - Raheem Sterling
Bizarrely in the squad for the World Cup qualifier against Poland at a time when he could not get near the Liverpool first-choice XI.


37 (34) - Aaron Lennon
He'll probably say he's pleased for Townsend but...


38 (41) - Michael Dawson
Just not fanciable, it seems.


39 (NE) - Jay Rodriguez
Lucky to get one chance; unlikely to get another.


40 (31) - Joleon Lescott
Fourth choice for club and seventh choice for country.

41 (44) - Fabian Delph

42 (47) - Tom Huddlestone

43 (49) - Saido Berahino

44 (38) - Jack Butland

45 (NE) - Curtis Davies

46 (39) - Wilfried Zaha

47 (40) - Leon Osman

48 (45) - Carl Jenkinson

49 (NE) - James Ward-Prowse

50 (50) - Phil Neville

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