The summer can be a lonely time for a football fan. The excitement of the Premier League season is over and only transfer gossip, which is frustrating at the best of times, is all one has to keep their club at the forefront of their mind. This summer, though, the 20th FIFA World Cup is taking place in the world’s football capital: Brazil.
England go there under less pressure than at any time in recent memory. Usually the nation’s expectations ahead of major finals reach fever pitch, as fans start plotting England’s route to the final and dreaming of success. This time, however, expectations are low, something which could help Roy Hodgson’s men.
England have been drawn in Group D alongside Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy – a tough group but one which they should be able to negotiate. World cup betting sites like world-cup-betting.me.uk have estimated that the odds of England winning the championship are 33/1, making it worth a punt, even if the prospect of winning on South American turf seems remote.
Here we look at some of the Manchester City players who could be on their way to Brazil this summer.
– Joe Hart
After struggling with his form in the early part of the season, Joe Hart has recovered and looks much more like his old self again. City boss Manuel Pellegrini took the decision to drop him after the defeat to Chelsea at the end of October, and he wasn’t reinstalled as City’s No.1 until December.
His hiatus from the first-team allowed him to refocus and recover his confidence and we’ve seen a very different goalkeeper since his return. He may not be at the level he showed in 2010-2012, but he deserves great credit for his improvement this season.
He will almost certainly be England’s first-choice ‘keeper in Brazil.
– James Milner
The snobbery from England fans towards James Milner is remarkable. There’s a strong feeling across England’s fanbase that he is somewhat undeserving of a place in Hodgson’s squad; that he doesn’t have the necessary skill and technical ability to excel at international level. For those who watch him regularly at club level, of course, that is nonsense.
Milner is an excellent player who has shown time and again that he can hold his own in City’s super-talented squad. His hard-work and versatility make him a vital player at club level and he is a certainty to travel to Brazil.
He can operate on either wing or in central midfield, and is also capable of playing at full-back in an emergency. He’s technically proficient and a great crosser – it’s time England fans realised what a gem he really is.
– Jack Rodwell
Jack Rodwell is an incredibly talented young man but injuries have scuppered his chances of making the plane to the finals. He showed last season for City when he was fit that he is capable of great things. Roberto Mancini played him in an attacking role high up the pitch, something he proved adept at, and he can also play as a defensive midfielder, like he did for much of his time at Everton.
His hamstrings are brittle, though, and he has, so far, not managed a consistent run of games for City this season, making just seven appearances in all competitions.
– Joleon Lescott
Much like Rodwell, Joleon Lescott is unlikely to make England’s final 23 man squad for the World Cup given his lack games for City this season. At 31, Lescott is in decline, and with his contract at City set to expire this summer, a move to another club is now certain.
He’s given us a few reminders of ability when he has played, particularly in the FA Cup win over Chelsea and the League Cup semi-final second-leg at Upton Park, but it’s clear that the player who led City to the title in 2012 with a string of outstanding performances is no longer at the peak of his powers.
If England get injuries at centre-half, he is a reliable and experienced player to bring in, but he is more likely to spend this summer negotiating his next move at club level.