Usually when an England squad for a major tournament is announced, a feeling of disappointment pervades – the same old faces and the same tired system, set to fail in a familiar way.
However, Roy Hodgson’s squad for Brazil 2014 bucks that trend, with an array of young stars set to represent England at this summer’s showpiece event. It’s exciting. With the likes of Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ross Barkely, England fans can look forward to a bright future, and this World Cup will be a huge learning curve for those involved in their first major tournament.
And alongside the youngsters are some experienced players. Steven Gerrad, who has had a magnificent season for Liverpool in a deep-lying midfield role, will captain the side, with Frank Lampard and Glen Johnson also there to add experience. Unlike previous years, though, the focus is on youth.
It’s a squad with a great mix of pace, flair, creativity, youthful exuberance and older players. For once, an England manager has been a bit bolder and braver than his predecessors, with a long-term strategy clearly in evidence. It will be very difficult for England to win the tournament, particularly on South American soil, so the blooding of youngsters makes perfect sense. England should reap the rewards in future tournaments.
For City, there’s only Joe Hart and James Milner in the squad, both of whom deserve their place. Hart has little in the way of a decent challenger at international level, and since he returned to the City side after a six weeks hiatus earlier in the season, he has been much improved. Milner, as any City fan will tell you, has been excellent yet again, and his versatility and work-rate make him valuable to the squad. He really came to the fore during the run in and gave City the extra impetus they needed to get over the line and be crowned champions.
Gareth Barry, who has had a superb season on loan at Everton, can count himself unlucky not to be involved, but with the focus now on youth, it’s a decision he’ll understand, even if he’s hurting right now. A summer’s rest will do him good, before he makes a permanent move to Goodison Park, which would surprise very few people.
The tournament gets underway on June 12, with Brazil vs. Croatia, with England’s first group game set for June 14 against Italy. It should be a fantastic event. Check out the full squad via the FA’s website.
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