Roy Hodgson has been given an England team with quite a lot of potential. He has veteran players in Gerrard and Rooney. He has young raw talent in Wilshere, Sterling, and Shaw. He has in-form players like Sturridge, Baines, and Hart. The question is, will Hodgson be able to put the pieces together in the correct way to form a team that can make a cup run in Brazil? Can he get them to play a style of football that will extenuate the attacking potential this team has? Can he get an England squad to perform in a big tournament? There are many other questions that will be asked of Roy Hodgson and the England squad before this tournament is over. However, I believe that if England are to silence the critics early on, Hodgson should look to start this XI against Italy on June 14th in Manaus.
GK- Joe Hart
Hart has firmly established himself as England’s number one goalkeeper. With his position not in question, Hart needs to find the form that will help England get through the groups. He will likely have to come up big on numerous occasions when England take on Mario Balotelli and Luiz Suarez on June 14th and June 19th respectively.
RB- Glen Johnson
The Liverpool man is set to be the first choice right back for England this summer. Johnson had an impressive campaign with Liverpool this past season and should seek to replicate that this summer. He is calm and confident with the ball at his feet and can hurt opposition with his pace down the wing off the overlap.
CB- Gary Cahill
Gary Cahill needs to be the rock at the back for England. If England are to go far in the tournament this summer, Cahill and Jagielka need to find very good form early on. The 3-0 win against Peru was a good warm up for the partnership.
CB- Phil Jagielka
Partnering Gary Cahill will be Phil Jagielka. The Everton man has been a solid CB for England so far. He even netted himself a goal against Peru in the 3-0 win. It is imperative that Jagielka and Cahill command the back four through the group stage and provide England with a solid foundation.
LB- Leighton Baines
Starting at left back for Roy Hodgson will be Leighton Baines. The Everton man secured his spot ahead of veteran Ashley Cole and promising youngster Luke Shaw. Baines is very comfortable with the ball and is a big threat down the wing. He is also deadly with his set piece and corner kick deliveries. His attacking threat will be key out of the back.
RM- Adam Lallana
The Southampton man will probably be pushed out wide for Hodgson in Brazil. He has been one of the stars this season in the Premier League and hopefully can recreate that form for England. Despite his lack of International experience, the playmaking ability of Lallana will be crucial for the attacking effort. If Lallana gets the start against Italy, he will most likely not play the full 90 min. Raheem Sterling will likely replace Lallana consistently during the campaign.
CM- Steven Gerrard (C)
The Veteran, Captain, and Leader. Gerrard will Captain the England side this summer and will surely start in the middle of the park against Italy on June 14th. Under Brendan Rodgers, Gerrard was positioned in a deeper role within the midfield. From that position, Gerrard is deadly with his vision and ability to release the strikers. He also provides defensive support to the back four. He is vital to keeping the shape of the England side.
CM- Jack Wilshere
Roy Hodgson will have a difficult time determining who to partner with Steven Gerrard, but it seems that Jack Wilshere is the front runner. Even though Wilshere has been plagued by injury and is often inconsistent when he plays for England, he should get the start because he can be a top class midfielder when he’s switched on. When healthy and in form, Whilshere can be the creative midfielder that supports Rooney and company up front. He’s strong on the ball and has a fiery spirit. Hopefully Hodgson can get the best out of Wilshere and make England’s #7 famous again.
LM- Danny Welbeck
The Manchester United man has had a rough season this year at Old Trafford. David Moyes often played him out of position on the left and he was unhappy. Unfortunately for Welbeck, he will most likely find himself there again. He is not good enough to take a spot up top from Rooney or Sturridge but he is good enough to make the starting XI. He has immense speed as well as the work rate and stamina to play up and down the pitch. If he can click with Wilshere and the two forwards, England may have a potent attacking force.
ST/CAM – Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney finds himself as one of the veterans on this England team. He needs to lead by example if England are to go far in this tournament. Rooney will likely be partnered with Sturridge up front but will tuck underneath him. It may not be his preferred position, but Rooney is good enough to play that attacking midfield role. At the end of the day and regardless of where Hodgson specifically plays him, Rooney must score goals. He has yet to score on the biggest stage and that needs to dramatically change so that England can form a prolific strike force. Rooney is a world class player and this World Cup is his time to shine.
ST- Daniel Sturridge
Perhaps the most in-form striker in the England squad, Daniel Sturridge is set to make a big impact in Brazil. Sturridge will be given a role where he will sit above Rooney. Hopefully the beauty of a strike that he had against Peru a few days ago is a good sign that Sturridge is still an in-form striker and can score important goals. One of Roy Hodgson’s main priorities should be trying to get Rooney and Sturridge to emulate the partnership Sturridge and Suarez had at Liverpool this past season. If he can get the best out of these players, England could become the wildcard in this tournament to go far.