After scoring a superb virtuoso goal for Everton, Ross Barkley has given England boss Roy Hodgson a real selection challenge ahead of the World Cup, where he may just have to leave an established name at home to accommodate the precocious talent.
The two players who are most at threat have to be the pair most likely to operate as Steven Gerrard’s foil in central midfield; Jack Wilshere or Frank Lampard.
This is of course assuming that Gerrard isn’t now partnered by either his energetic club mate Jordan Henderson – looking an increasingly good bet to make the squad at 8/11 – or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has emerged as a surprisingly adept convert to a centre mid at Arsenal.
But for Wilshere, who was probably Hodgson’s favoured first choice to partner Gerrard, his odds have a less certain ring to them than the 1/5 suggests given the way his campaign at Arsenal has gone.
A fracture in his left foot, ironically sustained on England duty, has crocked Jack The Lad at just the wrong moment aftter a hot and cold campaign for the Gunners.
Six weeks out at this stage of the season mean his prep for the World Cup will have to be rushed even if he does see out four or five of Arsenal’s remaining fixtures.
Meanwhile, Barkley has gone about improving week-by-week since coming back from his own injury lay-off and his latest goal – which has drawn further comparisons with England great Paul Gascoigne – is bound to increase the clamour for his inclusion in Brazil once more.
Things are perhaps even grimmer for Lampard despite the Chelsea man’s 1/3 odds. The Three Lions staple has been in and out of Jose Mourinho’s line-up all season and at 35 simply cannot offer the dynamism Barkley provides.
Barkley is 1/2 to make the final squad and if his current form for Everton continues, the 9/2 about the Toffees crashing the top four at Arsenal’s expense look set to shrink fast.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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