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England Index: Euro 2012 finals countdown

Ian Watson ranks the prospects of England's Euro 2012 squad hopefuls - and it's bad news for a Chelsea duo and two Merseyside-based full-backs.

Last Updated: 15/05/12 at 10:43 Post Comment

Hodgson: Names his squad on Wednesday

Hodgson: Names his squad on Wednesday

Just 48 hours after his first official day as England manager, Roy Hodgson on Wednesday names his squad for the European Championships.

Hodgson will be the third boss that we have attempted to second-guess, with Fabio Capello being in charge when the initial England Index was published, while Stuart Pearce looked like he was keeping the seat warm for Harry Redknapp when the second Index was written.

Hodgson not only has to decide on the names in his squad but also the structure. Despite Wayne Rooney's suspension, it seems likely that he will select four strikers, due to the probable team shape. They appear set to be joined by eight defenders, another eight midfielders and the required trio of goalkeepers.

With the Premier League season now out of the way and players waiting to discover whether they will be hitting the beach or the training ground, here is where Ian Watson ranks the prospects of the England hopefuls.

Previous ranking shown in brackets.

Goalkeepers

1 (1) Joe Hart

2 (2) Rob Green

3 (3) Scott Carson

***

4 (6) John Ruddy

5 (4) David Stockdale

The crucial issue with Hodgson's last line of defence is that Joe Hart came through his 57-game season unscathed and remains fit to take his place in the England goal. Thank the Lord for that.

Hodgson attempted to coax his West Brom keeper, Ben Foster, out of international retirement but the 29-year-old is unwilling to spend time away from his family just to play back-up.

This should mean that Rob Green and Scott Carson keep their places in the 23-man party, but John Ruddy might be well advised to keep his phone switched on over the next 24 hours.

Hodgson knows all about Carson and was happy to sell him to Bursaspor last summer for just £2million, which suggests the manager could be tempted to look at Ruddy, who has caught the eye in the Norwich goal this season.

Defenders:

1 (1) Ashley Cole

2 (3) Gary Cahill

3 (5) Joleon Lescott

4 (11) Kyle Walker

5 (12) Rio Ferdinand

6 (2) Phil Jones

7 (6) Micah Richards

8 (8) Phil Jagielka

***

9 (9) Leighton Baines

10 (7) John Terry

11 (4) Glen Johnson

INJ (8) Chris Smalling

The biggest question mark hangs over John Terry, whose fall from grace from skipper continues, with the Chelsea leader not included in our top eight.

The biggest concern around Terry seems to revolve around his relationship with Rio Ferdinand, which is understood to be beyond repair. The fact that this is even an issue may come as a surprise to some, given Ferdinand has not been involved in any England squads this season. His form for Manchester United, though, suggests that he may yet have plenty to offer Hodgson this summer.

Terry's pace is clearly leaving him and his level of performance has only improved since Chelsea stopped playing a higher defensive line. Especially without the captain's armband, the former skipper is not the leader for England that he is for his club, with some viewing him as a divisive presence around the England camp. Hodgson has previously spoken of the importance of including 'good lads' in tournament squads, having learnt from his mistakes with Switzerland. With those concerns, Terry's summer could be clear for him to focus on his date in court in July.

Another former Three Lions regular who could be left out is Glen Johnson. The Liverpool full-back only remains at Anfield now because Hodgson was fired before he could sell the right-back, with the pair's relationship having almost completely broken down during the first half of last season. With PFA Young Player of the Year Kyle Walker likely to be first choice (if fit) after an impressive season, Hodgson may take great pleasure in overlooking Johnson for the more versatile Micah Richards.

Phil Jones was ranked number one in the opening England Index after a superb start to his Manchester United career across a number of positions. Since Christmas, though, his form has dipped alarmingly, especially when employed at centre-half. His versatility means he will be on the plane, but it would come as a surprise now if Jones played anything other than a minor role.

Ashley Cole remains top of the defensive rankings but the issue of his cover remains complex. Does Hodgson take Leighton Baines or rely on Lescott as an emergency left-back, a move which would open up a place for another specialist centre-half? Cahill and Lescott are the only centre-backs guaranteed their squad places, with Ferdinand a possible/probable. Because Hodgson needs another central defender, Phil Jagielka - who is comfortable also at left-back - could benefit at the expense of Everton team-mate Baines.

Midfielders:

1 (1) Scott Parker

2 (3) Steven Gerrard

3 (2) Ashley Young

4 (8) Theo Walcott

5 (16) Paul Scholes

6 (5) Gareth Barry

7 (6) Frank Lampard

8 (9) James Milner

***

9 (7) Stewart Downing

10 (10) Adam Johnson

11 (12) Michael Carrick

12 (15) Aaron Lennon

13 (11) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

14 (13) Tom Cleverley

Scott Parker might not be Hodgson's captain, but the Tottenham midfielder remains top of the rankings. His fitness is a concern, though, with Harry Redknapp admitting an Achilles problem is continuing to cause discomfort. Parker will be there. Jack Wilshere, sadly, won't.

In Wilshere's absence, England lack a deep-lying midfielder who is capable of hiding the ball from the opposition. That has been the case ever since Paul Scholes grew tired of being squeezed out to the left in 2004, but reports suggest the Manchester United veteran may be ready to end his eight-year international exile in time for the Euros. If Scholes is willing, you would have to think that Hodgson would be too. Whether Sir Alex Ferguson is quite so keen remains to be seen.

If Scholes stays at home over the summer, Michael Carrick is a capable alternative and could well add to his 22 caps.

Hodgson generally favours a two-pronged attack, but England simply cannot afford to employ a traditional 4-4-2. In order to shield his defence, the new boss will likely employ two screeners in front of the back four, with Steven Gerrard in an advanced midfield role off a main striker. Either side of Gerrard, you will probably find Ashley Young and Theo Walcott, who will often play narrow to allow Walker and Cole to bomb on.

Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry provide a decent standard of experienced cover, with Jones also able to step into midfield should the need arise. What James Milner lacks in excitement, he more than makes up for in versatility and reliability so he could be one of the 'good lads' who makes the trip. However, it's likely to be a summer on the beach for two North-East fliers.

Stewart Downing has endured a wretched season at Liverpool, having provided not one goal or assist. Adam Johnson has slipped way down the pecking order at Manchester City and is clearly not trusted by Roberto Mancini, a point proved on Sunday when the winger failed to make the bench for City's title decider.

Forwards:

1 (1) Wayne Rooney

2 (2) Danny Welbeck

3 (5) Andy Carroll

4 (4) Darren Bent

***

5 (3) Daniel Sturridge

6 (9) Peter Crouch

7 (NE) Grant Holt

8 (7) Bobby Zamora

9 (6) Jermain Defoe

Contrary to popular belief, Darren Bent is not yet an injury write-off and, until such time that he is, the Aston Villa striker will remain in the top four. If Bent recovers from ruptured ankle ligaments to be ready for the first game against France, he will be rusty, but given the lack of like-for-like alternatives, he has to go.

The same goes for Wayne Rooney, despite the fact that England's talisman will miss the first two games. Hopefully, his three stand-ins can do enough in the first two games to make the meeting with hosts Ukraine worth hanging around for.

That trio includes Danny Welbeck, who has impressed many, and Andy Carroll, who's recent form suggests he may be rediscovering a glimmer of confidence after a largely wretched season. Despite their opposing fortunes this campaign, Carroll is actually much better suited to playing the role of pivot man and could have a big role to play.

Daniel Sturridge will be named in Hodgson's extended list on Wednesday, but he may well miss the final cut. The Chelsea forward has been a frustrating figure in a blue shirt after a fine start to the season. His directness is an asset but not so good that it makes up for his often-appalling decision making. Young is a certain starter in Sturridge's spot and though he could be a dangerous substitute, Milner offers more for his place in the squad.

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