Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Wayne Rooney on being named captain of the National side and wish him luck with the task of replacing Steven Gerrard and moving this team forward. With the likes of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard now retired from International Football, there are opportunities and places available within the team. I personally feel this qualifying campaign should be used as a chance to inject youth into the squad, which will give some of the youngsters the experience of representing their country, along with the associated pressure. The qualifiers against Norway and Switzerland will provide an opportunity to assess a new look England and could well showcase an exciting crop of young players who have no fear. Also for Roy Hodgson, he has to contend without a lot of top quality players missing due to various injuries
Currently Injured: Kyle Walker, Ross Barkley, Theo Walcott, Glen Johnson, Luke Shaw, Michael Carrick, Adam Lallana, Chris Smalling, Kieran Gibbs, Jay Rodriguez and John Flannagan.
I will now what I feel is the currently the best squad based on form and availability.
Joe Hart – Hart is currently one of the World’s best goalkeepers and is a crucial part of the England spine. His leadership and vast amount of experience for somebody so young will be crucial for the team, especially with the recent retirements of experienced squad members.
Ben Foster – Foster is a solid goalkeeper who has had some bad luck with injuries, but when fit and on form he is a top class goalkeeper. He would have been capped more in my opinion if not for the presence of Hart.
Fraser Forster – Even before his move to the Premier League some of the performances Forster put in for Celtic in the Champions League were nothing short of heroic. Now he is Southampton’s No 1, he is guaranteed a place in the England set up.
Nathaniel Clyne – With Johnson and Walker ruled out due to injury, I feel Clyne should have been given an opportunity to link up with the England squad. He has been a regular fixture in the Southampton side and scored a great goal in the opening day defeat to Liverpool.
Eric Dier – Dier has been a revelation for Tottenham in the opening few games and such performances should have been rewarded a spot in the national team. He has been a regular for the England Under 21’s and if he keeps up his current impressive performances, Hodgson will have no choice but to select the young man.
Callum Chambers – With Vermaelen being sold and Mertesacker only just coming back from World Cup duty, Chambers has seized his opportunity and looks a steady head at the back. Chambers has a bright future and appears to be a level headed man who would relish the chance to play for his country.
John Stones – Stones is a very accomplished and composed defender. He is extremely comfortable on the ball and is going to be a big part of the national side for many years to come. After his breakthrough with Everton last year he has not looked back and continues to improve.
Phil Jones – There is an argument that Jones has not really improved whilst being at Manchester United. He needs to keep himself fit and play consistent games at a high level if he is ever going to reach his potential. If he does live up to his potential, then he could become a true leader for club and country.
Gary Cahill – Cahill is now one of the most experienced players in the side and he will be an important mentor for the youngsters making the big step up. Cahill is a quality defender who will continue to flourish on the international stage.
Leighton Baines – Baines will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing World Cup. With Ashley Cole retiring from international football and Luke Shaw currently injured, his place for the upcoming qualifiers seems a formality. On his day Baines can be a great outlet, producing fantastic crosses and providing an attacking threat for the team.
Ryan Bertrand – With the likes of Gibbs and Shaw out, I felt Bertrand deserved the opportunity to get a call up to the side. Now with Southampton for the season, he can focus on playing week in week out and looking to impress Roy Hodgson.
Jack Wilshere – Wilshere has all the capabilities to become England’s midfield talisman, however injuries have thwarted his progression. His performance in the Champions League 2nd leg against Besiktas showed what a talent he is and how, when required, he can take games by the scuff of the neck.
Fabian Delph – I think Delph has deserved his call up as his performances for Aston Villa in the last 12 months have been very good. His ability to link up and break up play could be crucial for England. With Gerrard and Lampard now out of the equation, every midfield player will be looking to lay down a marker.
Jordan Henderson – It wasn’t too long ago that Henderson’s confidence seemed shot and people were criticising him for his performances. I for one will say that he has completely changed people’s perception and he is more than capable of nailing down a regular starting berth for the national team.
Jack Rodwell – After an unsuccessful period for Rodwell at Manchester City, he has recently moved to Sunderland and has looked impressive in the opening games. He is techniquely very gifted and as shown against Manchester United, he provides a great aerial threat. Rodwell has had an awful time with injuries but when fit, he is a great prospect and I believe he should be given a chance at the highest level.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Chamberlain was a big miss for England at the World Cup as his pace and sheer ability can frighten any team. With the likes of him, Sterling and Sturridge, England possess a very quick and skilful team which for all the fans should be a mouth-watering prospect.
Raheem Sterling – The elevation in Sterling’s game in the last 6 months has been incredible. If he stays level headed and hungry to improve, then Liverpool and England will possess an unbelievable talent who is capable of winning games by himself.
Andros Townsend – The way Townsend burst on the scene in the World Cup qualifiers was remarkable. The magnitude of the games in which he made his International debut were huge and to show no fear is a massive testament to the lad. He was unfortunate that he was ruled out the World Cup, but I’m sure he will come back hungrier and stronger.
James Ward-Prowse – Since the departures of numerous star names from Southampton this summer, Ward-Prowse has benefitted and become a regular fixture in Koeman’s side. Getting the experience of being with the National team would have only aided Ward-Prowse’s rapid development. His set play technique is phenomenal and he could well be a future set piece taker for the England side.
James Milner – I personally believe that Milner needs to move away from Manchester City to guarantee that he plays regular football. There would be a host of clubs that would be interested in him as his versatility and relentless work rate are just some of his qualities that make him a no brainer for Roy Hodgson’s side.
Wayne Rooney – The newly appointed captain is now the most experienced man in the squad. With the responsibility of now being captain for club and country, he has a huge amount of added pressure and weight on his shoulders. Many England fans believe that Rooney hasn’t delivered when it matters for the country, however he could yet go down as the record goal-scorer and record appearance maker. Rooney’s tenure is where is legacy will be truly defined.
Danny Welbeck – Welbeck’s record for England is very good and he appears to be a player who actually performs better for his country than club. Hodgson is a big admirer of Welbeck as his work rate and pace always puts the opposition in an uncomfortable position. With many years ahead of him he should continue to be an integral part of the side.
Daniel Sturridge – With Suarez now gone at Liverpool, Sturridge is the main man for club and now the question is can he now go on and become a regular goal scorer for his country. Sturridge’s pace is a huge weapon for England and with creative players around him, he is always going to get chances to score.
That concludes my squad selection. I understand that everyone will have different opinions on my team and other peoples could vary significantly. One thing is for sure though that right now there is some very talented youngsters coming through the ranks. Furthermore, there is a real opportunity for England to push on and possibly have a great Euro 2016, especially if Hodgson can develop a young and settled side.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and I would love to hear your views. Do you agree or not? Who would you select?