England manager Hodgson announces World Cup squad

England manager Roy Hodgson

England manager Roy Hodgson

First published in Sport
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ROY Hodgson sprang no real surprises when he announced his 23-man England World Cup squad which included exciting youngsters Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Michael Carrick, Andy Carroll and Kyle Walker were the most notable absentees from Hodgson's party for Brazil.

Carrick has paid the price for a poor season with Manchester United while West Ham striker Carroll has been named on the standby list after a season ravaged by injury.

Tottenham defender Walker misses out due to a pelvic injury.

As expected, teenage left-back Shaw, 18, makes the cut ahead of Ashley Cole, who retired from international football on Sunday night after being told he had not made the squad.

Rickie Lambert, who has scored 14 goals this season, gets the nod ahead of Carroll.

Former Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe, who now plays for Toronto FC, is only good enough for a place on the standby list.

England Press Conference (skip forward to 22:54s)

Carrick rejected the chance to be on the standby list for Euro 2012, but he has accepted the same position this time around. Carrick is joined in Hodgson's contingency planning by Tom Cleverley, who has not made the 23 despite starting nine consecutive games under Hodgson at the start of the 2012-13 season.

Hodgson has selected just four strikers for the tournament, which kicks off on June 12.

Wayne Rooney will be the leading frontman, with Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Lambert in support. Frank Lampard, 35, makes the cut, but otherwise there is a youthful look about England's midfield selection.

Barkley, 20, has been selected, alongside Liverpool teenager Sterling and 26-year-old Southampton star Lallana.

Arsenal duo Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere are in the 23 despite their recent injury concerns.

James Milner also is favoured ahead of the likes of Adam Johnson and Ashley Young - neither of whom made the squad or standby list.

There were no surprises in defence.

Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were Hodgson's four centre-halves.

Leighton Baines goes to Brazil as first-choice left-back, with Shaw in reserve.

Glen Johnson goes to the tournament as England's only recognised right-back.

Hodgson selected Fraser Forster as third goalkeeper behind Joe Hart and Ben Foster.

There was a place on the standby list for Everton teenager John Stones, who only made his first Premier League start in January.

Uncapped Liverpool right-back Jon Flanagan was also on the standby list.

Those standby players will fly to Portugal with the squad next Monday for a week-long training camp.

Hodgson admitted the decision to leave out Cole was "an unbelievably hard" call.

"Ashley is a player that I and the rest of my staff appreciate," he said.

"He is a magnificent player and what he's done for England is second to none. Luke Shaw has had a wonderful season. He has captured headlines with his form and ability.

"One player has 107 caps and one has many caps to come. It was a hard job to ring Ashley and I can only be unbelievably grateful for the gracious way he accepted the decision.

"Circumstances will prove whether the decision to take the younger player was the right one or not."

While Hodgson's selection is notable for its youthful appearance, Chelsea's veteran midfielder Lampard - who turns 36 in June - has made the cut and will feature at his third World Cup.

"Frank is a very important part of our set-up and you shouldn't think about players in terms of age, but of position," Hodgson added.

"When you're in midfield you have many more positions to choose from.

"Frank has been captain on many occasions and has been vice-captain to Steven Gerrard.

"He still plays an important role for his club and we think his leadership qualities and his abilities will help us in the summer."

The inexperience of the England squad's newest members - including Sterling of Liverpool, who lost his place towards the end of the qualifying campaign - will not pose a problem in Brazil, according to Hodgson.

He added: "You get experience by getting the opportunity.

"It's wrong to focus totally on the fact there are those who are inexperienced because everyone is inexperienced until they get the chance to do the job.

"I think they've played so well and been so effective in their club teams that they've really imposed their ability on my thinking.

"I'm sure if I'd picked a squad after the final qualifier in October it would have looked quite different but a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.

"You can't ignore what people are doing on a week-to-week basis and your decision is based on who is the best man for the job.

"In October I didn't think Raheem Sterling was having the impact he has had since."

Several England players have been struggling with injuries in recent months, including Rooney, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jagielka, but Hodgson said the only player whose fitness remains a slight concern is Manchester United defender Jones.

Hodgson also revealed that teenage Everton defender Stones - currently on the stand-by list - would replace Jones in the final squad if he does not recover from his shoulder problem in time.

He said: "We wouldn't have selected anybody in this 23 if we seriously thought we would be on tenterhooks with regards to their fitness and I have to rely on the doctors and physios at the various clubs where the players play, and of course our own doctors and physios.

"The only one who I would say still seriously poses a question is Phil Jones, he had his shoulder injury a week ago today.

"Everyone tells me and my own research tells me that it points to a three-week injury to be back fit and playing, but we can't guarantee that and as a result I will be taking John Stones and Jon Flanagan with us on this trip as stand-by and John Stones will be Phil Jones' replacement if, by the end of June, we are not confident Phil Jones will be fit, but everything tells me he will be."

On Barkley's inclusion at the end of a breakthrough season for the Everton youngster, Hodgson said: "He's a very, very exciting player, a very exciting talent and if he can continue at that level he has a very exciting future ahead of him.

"But I would hope people will temper their expectations of him.

"I wouldn't want him to be under the pressure that every time he gets the ball he has to score a goal like the one he did against Manchester City."

Southampton's Lambert was preferred to Carroll, and Hodgson admitted it had been tough to choose between the two strikers.

"Rickie Lambert has been with us all throughout the qualifying campaign and I'm delighted to see Andy back in form. It wasn't an easy decision to make but in the end I plumped for Rickie Lambert," the England boss added.

Lambert is an option to partner Rooney. The Manchester United man has played at two World Cups without enjoying great tournaments and Hodgson is eager to ease the pressure on the Liverpudlian.

He said: "I think it's very wrong to put the footballing hopes of a nation on the shoulders of one man.

"The four forwards we've selected are very interesting and don't forget that we've got players in that midfield who can score goals.

"Time will tell and my words won't win us any games."

Hodgson said he was not concerned his squad had too much youth at the expense of experience, highlighting that there were players with plenty of caps to their names in the group too.

"I'm not so certain that old adage (you never win anything with kids) is probably as true as it once was," he said.

"This is a 23-man squad, we're not talking about 11. In that 23 there are an awful lot of caps.

"We should not get hung up that they are youngsters in there. I am not taking anyone purely for the experience."

Asked if he believed England could win in Brazil, Hodgson said: "I believe the squad can win the World Cup, because otherwise what's the point in taking them?

"But they are empty words, I have never understood the importance people attach to that.

"If we are going to win it we will have to play very well, prepare very well and this talented group of players have to show their talent."

Hodgson hinted his back five positions were pretty much set in stone, but that his midfield and forward selections could yet surprise.

"Certainly in those front six positions there are a lot of options, I would like to think that's a very exciting group we have for those front six positions, while the back four and goalkeeper tend to be a lot more stable."

Hodgson also has no doubts that captain Gerrard will overcome his title disappointment with Liverpool to play a big part for England in Brazil.

Liverpool's hopes of winning the league were crushed as they finished two points behind champions Manchester City this weekend, with a slip from Gerrard in the Reds' home match against Chelsea last month proving a key moment in the title run-in.

However, Hodgson does not think Gerrard will suffer any sort of hangover, saying: "No, no concerns whatsoever.

"I was very disappointed for him of course, I share his disappointment and I was very sad that he feels himself responsible for the mistake.

"Steven is mentally very strong, extremely proud, he loves Liverpool but also England and I have no doubt that he will be as good as he ever was during the tournament."

Another of Hodgson's key players, Rooney, has not had the best preparation either after missing the end of what was a largely miserable Manchester United campaign through injury.

However, Hodgson hopes the World Cup will bring the best out of the striker, saying: "It's up to Wayne and if it's to do with desire and ambition and wanting to do it, then there's no doubt in my mind that we have nothing to fear with Wayne in that respect.

"I've said to the players this week for them to go and forget football for a week and get themselves mentally prepared for football in the weeks we have ahead.

"Wayne's decided to take some physios with him where he's going and continue his programme because he's so determined that when we meet up on the 19th he'll be able to join in straight away.

"So attitude (is) spot on, desire could not be better. Has he got the ability? Yes he has, so it's just a case of bringing on the matches."

GOALKEEPERS

The Northern Echo:

Joe Hart (Manchester City), pictured above, Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Fraser Forster (Celtic).

DEFENDERS

The Northern Echo:

Leighton Baines (Everton), pictured above, Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (England), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United).

MIDFIELDERS

The Northern Echo:

Ross Barkley (Everton), pictured above, Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

ATTACKERS

The Northern Echo:

Rickie Lambert (Southampton), pictured above, Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United).

STANDBY

The Northern Echo:

John Ruddy (Norwich City), Jon Flanagan (Liverpool), John Stones (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Andy Carroll (West Ham United), pictured above, Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC).

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