It’s going to take something special for England to defy outsider odds of 28/1 and lift the World Cup next summer in Brazil, but coach Roy Hodgson has promised he will give youth a chance between now and June so we’ve identified ten young players in with a real shout of making the plane.
The Liverpool winger is clearly in the manager’s thoughts as he was called up to replace Tom Cleverley after the Man Utd man pulled out of the last England squad and could squeeze the currently injured Aaron Lennon – who has only featured once under Hodgson – out of the final 23.
Gone are the days when experienced Premier League centre-halves such as Ledley King couldn’t force their way into the England back-line, but the Cardiff stopper – who left Spurs in a surprise £8m move over the summer – looks the best option should current centre-backs Phil Jagielka and/or Gary Cahill lose fitness or form.
Since breaking into the Derby County first-team at the age of 16 two years ago, the midfielder has become one of the hottest properties in British football and a mooted move to one of the top flight big boys in January would enhance Hughes’ chances of making the step up from the Under-21s to the senior team.
Kyle Walker’s suspension for the match against Poland underlined the dearth of options available to Hodgson at right-back and the 21-year-old – who made his England debut as a second-half substitute against Sweden 12 months ago – has shown enough talent in his 28 top-flight appearances for Arsenal to be thought of as a credible specialist alternative in the position.
The 19-year-old Everton star was tipped for full international honours long before Hodgson handed him a debut off the bench against Moldova last month and with Frank Lampard set to celebrate his 36th birthday during the World Cup and Jack Wilshere yet to convince Hodgson he is the coming man in midfield, Barkley looks a cert to be on the plane provided he is fit.
Hodgson has personally name-checked the Burundi-born youngster, who has scored five goals in seven games for West Brom this year and with England hardly overstocked with strikers, Berahino could yet force his way onto the bench in Brazil.
Of the attacking players in Roy Hodgson’s preferred England lineup, Man Utd striker Danny Welbeck looks the most likely to come under pressure should a genuine wide-left forward stake a claim for his place and Redmond’s exciting displays for Norwich and the Under-21s this season suggest he could be the man to take advantage.
In the last twelve months the Celtic keeper has faced the might of Barcelona three times, conceding only four goals and pulling-off countless saves which have caught the eye of the England coaching setup, but Forster will be hoping he will get a chance to prove his worth in the squad as Ben Foster is due to return from injury next month.
A left-winger who is just at home playing through the middle – as he showed recently with a wonderful individualist goal against Spurs – could prove to be an awesome weapon in Brazil and the former Man Utd youth will get plenty of chances to impress Hodgson between now and the summer, having already established himself in Sam Allardyce’s West Ham side this term.
Swansea’s former Liverpool midfielder was signed for the Anfield club when Hodgson was in charge and will hope to add to his solitary international cap by continuing to impress for the Welsh side, where he has scored one goal and laid on another in the Premier League this season.