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Arsenal full-back should keep tabs on Shaw’s World Cup audition

| 22.06.2014

Roy Hodgson’s squad selection for Brazil was widely praised in the English media as a chance to let a promising new wave of young talent gain some valuable tournament exposure, with Luke Shaw the poster boy for this policy.

As England go into their Group D game against Costa Rica with pre-packed suitcases waiting at the team’s Rio base, it’s easy to point the finger of blame – though there were some of us who foresaw problems.

The best England can hope for is a pride-salvaging victory over Group D leaders Costa Rica, priced rather skimpily at 4/5 and Hodgson has already named his experimental-looking starting XI for the game.

In fairness to Shaw, so far the Southampton protégé is blameless at this World Cup based on performances, but Hodgson’s reluctance to replace a clearly struggling Leighton Baines with the teenager does beg obvious questions.

But while Shaw gets his chance to shine or otherwise against the World Cup’s surprise package in Belo Horizonte, there’s another man with genuine claims who’ll be watching on with great interest.

Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs had flirted with contention for a place at the World Cup for the majority of the season after turning in his most assured campaign for the Gunners.

A regular performer in the Champions League, unfortunately for Gibbs a mixture of his club’s late season title capitulation and the tidal wave of public clamour to see a ‘wonder kid’ emerge for the Three Lions saw his hopes dashed.

If Shaw goes on to tear up trees against Costa Rica then his selection will feel more or less justified.

But if not, it’s Gibbs’ name that should be at the front of the queue for the next set of qualifiers given Ashley Cole’s international retirement and Baines’ failure to produce on the biggest stage.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.