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Carrick to prove his England worth on Cole’s big night

| 04.02.2013

Ashley Cole is in line to win his 100th England cap after being recalled to the squad for the Three Lions’ friendly with Brazil.

The Chelsea full back sat out the friendly defeat to Sweden but has been recalled to face Felipe Scolari’s side at Wembley, where he is set to join Peter Shilton, David Beckham, Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Billy Wright and Steven Gerrard in the England 100-club. A price of 7/4 says he’ll celebrate the occasion with a win, though the visitors are favoured at 5/4.

Judging from his squad selection, Roy Hodgson appears to be taking the game seriously. Young stars Raheem Sterling, Wilfried Zaha and Jonjo Shelvey all have to make do with under-21 duty, meaning the team fielded is, injury permitting, likely to be the same one that runs out against San Marino in the next World Cup qualifier.

Jack Wilshere is likely to be handed his first start since his lengthy injury lay-off and Michael Carrick’s inclusion suggests he will be performing screening duties in front of the back four, allowing Steven Gerrard to influence the game higher up the pitch.

Carrick lacks the physical prowess of a typical ‘destroyer’, nor is he going to go steaming around the park stamping out opposition attacks with crunching tackles. However, he demonstrates the touch of class that so many continental stars have England fans salivating over and his cool head in possession is just what’s required when trying to play out of defence.

Phil Jagielka’s consistency is one of the key reasons why Everton have had such a successful season thus far and he well-warrants a starting berth at the heart of the Three Lions’ backline. While the two full backs and goalkeeper pick themselves, Jagielka’s partner doesn’t.

Chris Smalling has portrayed a maturity beyond his years as part of the Manchester United defence and looks as though he’ll be a staple in the England team looking to the future. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be tried out against an attacking unit of Brazil’s stature; the test will be a good measure of whether he is ready to feature for his country on a more permanent basis.

Up top an interchangeable unit of Wayne Rooney, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck combines pace, creativity and, most importantly, an ability to score goals. A roaming role could bring out the best of Rooney in an England shirt and his movement could poke holes for Welbeck and Walcott to attack with their speed.

Here’s the team we’ve picked for England’s friendly with Brazil – if you think we’ve got it wrong, feel free to let us know.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date



James Middleton