Wembley Stadium

Next Game

England v Lithuania

Friday, 27 March 2015, 19:45

European Qualifiers Group E

Celtic Park

Last Game

Scotland 1 - 3 England

Tuesday, 18 November 2014, 20:00

International Match

Hodgson's choice: Five England decisions

TEAMtalk guest Adam Bate looks at the selection issues the England boss must consider ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.

Last Updated: 16/10/13 at 21:14 Post Comment

Roy Hodgson and Steven Gerrard will be there but who should be joining them in B

Roy Hodgson and Steven Gerrard will be there but who should be joining them in B

More of the games that matter

Upgrade in minutes or watch with a NOW TV Day Pass.

Baines or Cole?

Leighton Baines could hardly have done more in the Wembley double-header against Montenegro and Poland to show that he is now England's best left-back. Ashley Cole's rib injury gave the Everton man his chance and he responded with a purposeful performance on Friday, before really coming to the fore in the crucial 2-0 defeat of the Poles. No England player made more tackles and interceptions (seven) than Baines and his cross for Wayne Rooney's opener was superb.

The difficulty for Hodgson is that for all the attacking menace supplied by Baines, no manager is going to rush into discarding Cole. A UEFA Champions League winner with more than 100 caps to his name, the 32-year-old has that vast experience in the biggest games that his erstwhile deputy still lacks. When it's the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who need tracking in Brazil, will Hodgson want his most experienced defender in the team?

Townsend or Walcott?

Andros Townsend has been a revelation for England and nobody did more than the Tottenham winger to ensure all the momentum was with the home side this week. The statistics suggest he is already the foremost dribbler in the Premier League and his direct wing play proved far too good for both Montenegro and Poland. Townsend has surely gone from outside bet to shoo-in for Brazil. It's been quite the dramatic rise to prominence.

One can only imagine how Theo Walcott feels. The Arsenal man has enjoyed a fine start to the season himself but robbed of the chance to shine here through injury, he now finds himself in a battle for that right-wing spot. In truth, anything approaching the 21 goals he netted for the Gunners last term should be enough to ensure Walcott retains his starting place. But Hodgson now knows he has a genuine alternative with the confidence to star for the Three Lions.

Front four

There has been plenty of excitement surrounding the possibilities of the strike partnership between Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge. England's key man coupled with the current Premier League top scorer looks a link-up that could cause problems for just about any team in Brazil next summer. With the likes of Townsend, Walcott and Danny Welbeck able to supplement the attack from the wide positions, England appear to have a youthful, potent and flexible front four.

But they also looked wide open against Poland. Against more skilled full-backs or more dominant midfield trios, could England's two-man midfield be horribly exposed as they were against Germany at the 2010 World Cup? A knockout tournament lends itself to caution and it remains to be seen whether Hodgson will abandon the defensive security of a midfield three when it's on the line against the very best next year.

Midfield balance

Whether Hodgson goes with two or three in the centre of midfield, he has a decision to make about the identity of the players in those roles. Only captain Steven Gerrard seems certain of his place. Jack Wilshere had been the man in possession but issues over form and fitness saw the England boss go back to Frank Lampard against Montenegro before turning to Michael Carrick for the critical clash with Poland on Tuesday.

Lampard and Gerrard were ideally suited to the No.10 role in their younger days but were not given the chance to play there due to the constraints of the favoured 4-4-2. So it is perhaps ironic that with Hodgson showing signs of a willingness to adopt a 4-3-3, both now perform deeper roles for their clubs while Wilshere looked uncomfortable as a No.10 against Ukraine. Such a formation switch may yet provide a chance for Hodgson favourite Tom Cleverley or a whole host of exciting youngsters.

Give youth a chance?

Among those aforementioned young talents likely to be pressing their claim for a place include England squad member Ross Barkley and man of the moment Ravel Morrison. The duo have the talent to impress and - at Everton and West Ham respectively - will get the opportunity to stay in the England manager's thoughts throughout the season thanks to regular first-team football in the Premier League. There might yet be a vacancy in the starting XI if they can seize the chance.

After all, surely one of the benefits of the lack of expectation surrounding this incarnation of the England football team is the accompanying pressure to scramble through is somewhat eased. A midfield trio of Gerrard, Carrick and Lampard at a combined age of 100 and counting might be the safe bet. Perhaps this new adventurous Roy Hodgson will opt for a more inspiring team selection.

TEAMtalk Facebook Fan Page

The TEAMtalk fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

sn'tthis strange. Last season we were worried that we were stuck with a Dinosaur in Moyes while Liverpool and Everton were disappearing into the distance with their young, spritely managerts, playing football from heaven. Progressive managers, they said. Managers who understand the modern game.........

HarryBoulton
Rodgers: The pressure's on

B

eing consistently and unrelentingly dog turd really takes it out of you. Try shadow boxing. That's what it's like watching Liverpool, punching thin air.

sinbadsdad
Neville: Reds need a rest

G

ood list, some crackers in there. For me, I'd have had Steve McManaman for Liverpool away at Celtic in the UEFA cup in 1997. I was in the ground that night and everyone kept screaming at him to make a pass, but he just kept going and going and going...brilliant, and in the dying minutes too.

uncle-muller
F365's Top Ten Counter-Attacking Goals

Footer 365

Champions League: Lionel Messi breaks goalscoring record as PSG win

Lionel Messi became the Champions League's all-time record scorer as Barcelona thrashed APOEL Nicosia, while PSG won.

Champions League: Mourinho hails Chelsea team performance after Schalke demolition

Jose Mourinho hailed Chelsea's "complete" performance after their 5-0 demolition of Schalke.

Champions League: Aguero treble stuns Bayern

Sergio Aguero's last-gasp heroics earned Manchester City a thrilling 3-2 win over 10-man Bayern Munich at the Etihad.

Mail Box

Counter-Attacks: Making Me Fall In Love Again

There is a good deal of love for counter-attacking goals, plus some sympathy for Arsene Wenger, heaping the praise on Chunky Pardew too early and why Klopp > Rodgers...

There's Excitement In Toon Again...

We have mails on a young, vibrant Newcastle side along with the usual woe from those in the red of Liverpool and Arsenal. We just love having the Premier League back...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property