England young guns show plenty of promise ahead of qualifiers
Roy Hodgson recalls experienced heads as England get down to the serious business of World Cup qualification, though there’s no place for World Cup 2010 stopper Rob Green.
Ashley Cole, John Terry and Steven Gerrard are among the senior England players back in the squad ahead of the national side’s opening World Cup qualifier in Moldova, having missed the recent friendly with Italy.
The Three Lions have trifled with their lowly opponents just twice in the past, winning a World Cup qualifying double-header by an aggregate of seven to nil ahead of their trip to France 1998.
A back line bolstered by the returning Chelsea pair as well as Man City custodian Joe Hart should have little trouble in echoing their predecessors by maintaining a clean sheet.
Ashley Cole will be in line to earn his 100th cap if picked against Moldova, but the assured rise of his Chelsea colleague Ryan Bertrand alongside the continued good form of Leighton Baines means his left back berth is one of the squad’s most hotly contested posts.
Michael Carrick is in the squad for a second match running having asked not to be considered for the recent European Championships due to a lack of potential playing opportunities.
He was one of just five players to play the full ninety minutes in the Italy friendly, doing so alongside Manchester United teammate Tom Cleverley.
Jermain Defoe – who won came off the bench to sink Italy – is among a group of five strikers hoping to provide Hodgson with selection headaches in the continued absence of Wayne Rooney.
Other frontmen named in the squad include Danny Wellbeck, Andy Carroll and Daniel Sturridge – among them it’s the ponytailed Geordie who has the finest strike-rate for his county with two goals in his seven England appearances.
Hodgson’s Lions are currently 4/9 to top Qualifying Group H and 16/1 to end what by then will be 48 years of hurt by lifting the World Cup in 2014.