F365's Famous World Cup Ladder

A week later than everybody else - simply because we're contrary - we take our latest stab at who is in Roy Hodgson's thoughts. Raheem Sterling in, Andros Townsend out...

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The numbers in brackets refer to their position in the last England ladder - on February 4. Please note once again - this is not an F365 pick but an approximation of Hodgson's thoughts.

1 (2) - Steven Gerrard
Watcing England as a neutral (in this case, a Huddersfield Town fan) is an entirely different experience to watching England as a fan of Liverpool or Manchester United. You neither laud the most basic of skills nor triumphantly count the errors - you simply judge on merit. Gerrard has been excellent for England as he has been excellent for Liverpool this season, showing leadership, maturity and creativity. Five tackles attempted and five completed against Denmark; England will need that tenacity in Brazil.

2 (2) - Joe Hart
England and Manchester City's No.1 once again and possibly a little better for the chastening.

3 (1) - Wayne Rooney
No shots on target in his last three England games; three successive tournament failures; no goals against any half-decent side since December. These facts - and the evidence of our weeping eyes - inevitably lead to calls for Rooney to be dropped but it simply will not happen. Even a manager not so naturally cautious as Roy Hodgson would baulk at making that kind of decision at a World Cup. He's been a mainstay for ten years and counting.

4 (4) - Gary Cahill
"He's the man for England going forward," said John Terry this week as David Moyes instead excitedly pointed at Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. On this subject - and not on fidelity or race relations - we're siding with Terry.

5 (5) - Phil Jagielka
In absentia he was heralded against Denmark. He owes Smalling a pint of squash.

6 (8) - Daniel Sturridge
Unquestionably England's in-form striker but it's far too simplistic to say that Sturridge should start ahead of Rooney or that Sturridge should not be shunted out to the wing to make room. Sturridge has thrived on versatility for Liverpool this season and he could thrive on versatility for England as long as Rooney commits to the same kind of effort and (attempted) mobility as Luis Suarez. A likely front three of Rooney, Sturridge and Danny Welbeck sounds relatively dangerous as long as they're all prepared to drop deep or wide. But expect that to be ignored in a shower of Rooney v Sturridge nonsense in the coming months; because what we really need before a major tournament is to cast our two best strikers against each other.

7 (9) - Danny Welbeck
Ah, here he is. He's scored more goals than you think for Manchester United this season (10) and he's scored more goals for England than logic dictates (8). There will be arguments made for both Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling before the Italy game, but we suspect that Welbeck has long since won Hodgson's heart with his possession-protecting gangly-ness.

8 (7) - Glen Johnson
England's best right-back. Some people will never agree. F*** 'em.

9 (6) - Jack Wilshere
'When he's good, he's very, very good. And when he's bad, he's probably injured,' we said in February when he was the former. Now he's the latter. Again.

10 (12) - Leighton Baines
Not playing him at all against Denmark suggested that Baines' squad place is not even vaguely in doubt. Which is a tad confusing because he's a) never looked brilliant for England and b) not having the most startling of seasons. Do not be surprised if Hodgson springs the 'surprise' (to the tabloids at least) of sticking with Ashley Cole v Italy on the grounds that he's still better at the art of actually defending.

11 (10) - Michael Carrick
We're reading nothing into Carrick not being involved against Denmark; against Italy in Manaus we would put good money on a middle three of Gerrard-Carrick-Wilshere (if fit) with the option of taking off Carrick when he gets tired, England need more attacking impetus or both.

12 (17) - Adam Lallana
Offers an entirely different option - two-footed, inventive, happy with the ball in small spaces; he has the sort of healthy arrogance that comes with being his club's most creative player. And he works hard! It's like having an English Thomas Muller. Ish.

13 (14) - Phil Jones
'Jones has been half-decent when called upon at centre-half, right-back and central midfield. Which is exactly what any team hoping to win the World Cup needs from the 14th name on their squad list,' we said last month. Now he's 13th. Excellent.

14 (13) - Frank Lampard
If there were a raft of excellent English central midfielders then Lampard would be nowhere near this ladder and nowhere near the England squad. But we really don't have that luxury and Lampard - with his promise of at least one shot every seven/eight minutes - is a far handier option than Tom Cleverley on the bench. Be prepared to groan when Carrick runs off after 70 minutes to be replaced by Lampard and his 'fresh legs'.

15 (15) - Ben Foster
England's No. 2. And that's just fine.

16 (16) - James Milner
Useful. Like a slotted spoon.

17 (11) - Ashley Cole
There are plenty (including Nick Miller on this very site) who have jumped to the conclusion that Luke Shaw's 45 minutes against Denmark have earned him a World Cup place at the expense of Cole. Begging to differ here - not convinced that you leave yourself one injury away from an 18-year-old defender at a major tournament. Cole did enough in that first half to confirm that he still had all the desire and most of the fitness and, tellingly, Hodgson still hasn't picked Baines over Cole for an England game of any real importance.

18 (18) - Chris Smalling
Fourth-choice centre-back, third-choice right-back, hopefully will never get off the bench.

19 (26) - Raheem Sterling
The only new entry into our latest stab at Hodgson's final 23 after a lively performance for England proved that he could shine away from Liverpool's counter-attacking style. If there's room for only one pure speedster - and by our reckoning there is - then it should be Sterling over the incredibly limited Andros Townsend.

20 (22) - Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Very much a Hodgson favourite, his only worry would have been if The Ox would play enough games for Arsenal to justify his selection. Worry over.

21 (19) - Fraser Forster
Will have far more confidence than John Ruddy if called upon.

22 (23) - Jordan Henderson
Played as if he was on trial v Denmark - which resulted in a safety-first performance that was a touch too Cleverley-esque. Comparison with the verve of Lallana is obvious but that's a tad unfair on Henderson, who is used to being the least talented of Liverpool's front six and naturally facilitates rather than creates.

23 (21) - Andy Carroll
Time is running out but we can't shake the notion that if Carroll scores four or five goals before the end of the season then he is Brazil-bound. There'll be riots tutting in Southampton.

24 (20) - Andros Townsend
One Premier League goal (from a mis-hit cross) and no Premier League assists - it simply can't be enough to take a winger to the World Cup. Can it? Can it? Even Tim Sherwood thinks Kyle Walker is a better winger.

25 (24) - Tom Cleverley
His name was booed at Wembley. Poor chicken. But when a man defends himself by listing all the things he doesn't do well, it's hard to have much sympathy.

26 (25) - Ross Barkley
Needs a rest. Should get it this summer.

27 (27) - John Ruddy
England's England's No. 4.

28 (28) - Kyle Walker
Even contrived to make a defensive mistake when playing in midfield against Chelsea.

29 (36) - Luke Shaw
Too early. Happy to be corrected on May 13 but simply cannot see him being anything other than back-up this summer.

30 (29) - Rickie Lambert
He needs to keep what we suspect are meaty fingers crossed that Carroll does not find his shooting boots/hair.

31 (38) - Steven Caulker
His place on the bench v Denmark confirmed that he is very much fifth choice in the centre-half department.

32 (30) - Jay Rodriguez
Those 57 minutes v Chile served as a very, very poor audition for Welbeck's role.

33 (34) - Jermain Defoe
Astonishingly still in the squad for the Denmark game. But then the alternative was probably Fraizer Campbell and he's still better than Fraizer Campbell.

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

35 (31) - Ashley Young
We got slightly worried that he was getting games; those 90 minutes v Olympiakos should put paid to those fears.

36 (33) - Kieran Gibbs
It's a shame but the boy simply cannot stay fit.

37 (32) - Adam Johnson
Thank God that nonsense went away.

38 (37) - Aaron Lennon
Nice of Sherwood to prove that Lennon is absolutely not an option in the No. 10 role.

39 (39) - Curtis Davies
Not a chance now.

40 (40) - Michael Dawson
Nor him.

41 (NE) - Danny Ings

42 (NE) - Jon Flanagan

43 (45) - Jack Butland

44 (41) - Fabian Delph

45 (43) - Tom Huddlestone

46 (46) - Joleon Lescott

47 (NE) - Tom Ince

48 (42) - Wilfried Zaha

49 (49) - Mark Noble

50 (50) - Phil Neville

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terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling


he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant


o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

Townsend: I've silenced critics

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