Could this five hopefuls make Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad next summer…?
Ok – we know we’ve jumped the gun. England are far from ‘qualified’ yet, and face difficult ties against Moldova and Ukraine in September to secure a spot at Brazil 2014!
If England do make it though; here’s five players we think have the ability to fight their way into the squad:
5) Raheem Sterling – Liverpool
The lightning fast 18-year-old has already won his first cap under Roy Hodgson, but had fallen down the pecking order as club manager Brendan Rodgers withdrew him from action in the second half of the season. This was to avoid burnout, and it has seemingly worked. Sterling has impressed during pre-season, and is raring to go ahead of the new term. Pure pace is an asset for any side, and if Sterling proves he can combine it with a genuine end product – he could make Hodgson’s squad next summer.
4) Gary Hooper – Norwich City
Norwich City’s new striker has moved south is to aid his England chances, as his 60 goals in the past two seasons for Celtic have gone unnoticed. If he scores anything close to 20 goals in his debut season for the Canaries, he has every chance of making the final-23 because of England’s current striker shortage.
3) Nick Powell – Manchester United
The wildcard pick. Undeniably an incredibly talented performer, Sir Alex Ferguson referred to him as ‘The Next Paul Scholes’, which is high praise indeed. Interestingly, his United and England chances rely more heavily on whether the Red Devils sign a world-class central midfielder. If they fail to do so, Powell may get the chance to prove he’s ready to replace ageing central midfielders like Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard and Scott Parker in the England squad.
2) Wilfried Zaha – Manchester United
Like Manchester United teammate Nick Powell, Zaha’s England chances rely on him forcing a way into the Premier League champions starting XI. A £15m signing from Crystal Palace, Zaha has starred for England Under-21s for a few seasons, and undoubtedly has the ability to step up and become one of the best attacking threats in the country. It’s just whether next summer’s World Cup will come too soon for the skilful winger.
1) Micah Richards – Manchester City
As a youngster, Richards was pencilled in to be an England regular for years to come. For a number of reasons, but mainly injuries, the colossal defender has barely added to his 13 caps since 2007, when Fabio Capello froze him out of the squad. If he can impress Pellegrini enough this term to warrant a starting place at City, he could dislodge defensively shaky Glenn Johnson to start at right-back.