The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is expected to be the last of many for stalwarts in the current England squad. We delve into the future and try and find out how the England squad will look like five years down the line.
England scored five goals against a hapless San Marino side at Wembley, in a match where they hardly got off their second gear. On hindsight, nothing less would have been acceptable against an opponent made up of mostly semi-professional footballers. Hence one should be careful while drawing any conclusions from such a game. But perhaps the most heartening aspect of this result was the performances of the younger players. Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tom Cleverley provided a polished display, yes, the opponents were a nation ranked 207, but it has got to start at some point.
England has historically been a nation where every achievement and failure has been magnified. Before every World Cup the English media builds up England as a potential winner, and the upcoming 2014 World Cup won’t be an exception. But the truth is – despite being ranked 5th in the world, they still have a lot of catching up to do with other European and South American nations to be considered as a title contender. Most of the old guards are being slowly replaced by new blood; English football is entering a transitional period. The next World Cup will be the last of many for the stalwarts in the side. John Terry has already retired, Rio Ferdinand’s international career seems to be over, while experienced player like Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard have entered the fag ends of their careers. But the upcoming talents means exciting time awaits the English fans in near future.
Let us take a look into how the England squad will shape up after five years. (P.S – The ages of the players mentioned below is what they will have in 2017).
Joe Hart (30-year-old), Jack Butland (24-year-old), John Ruddy (30-year-old), Ben Amos (27-year-old)
Joe Hart will remain a long term No.1 and he is already one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the moment. He is the best goalkeeper England has had since David Seaman retired. England also have some good young goalkeepers coming up through their ranks in Jack Butland (Who has already earned a senior cap and became the youngest goalkeeper in English history to do so) and Ben Amos. Butland is sure to displace John Ruddy as the second choice goalkeeper in the squad.
Gary Cahill (31-year-old), Steven Caulker (25-year-old), Phil Jones (25-year-old), Carl Jenkinson (25-year-old), Kyle Walker (27-year-old), Andre Wisdom (24-year-old), Martin Kelly (27-year-old), Kieran Gibbs (28-year-old), Ryan Bertrand (28-year-old), Leighton Baines (32-year-old)
From the present squad, only Gary Cahill is expected to be present in the team after five years. Steven Caulker will eventually turn out to be Cahill’s long term partner in the center of defense. The Tottenham Hotspur defender has already shown great improvements this season and has all the potential to be a world class defender. Phil Jones has had bad luck with his injuries and he will become a permanent fixture in the starting line-up in the future if he can keep his injuries at bay. England will have an embarrassment of riches in the right-back spot in the future. Carl Jenkinson, Martin Kelly, Kyle Walker and Andre Wisdom have shown great promise so far. But if Jones can continue his development, his versatility can see him being used as a right back in the national team. In the left back spot, Leighton Baines will find it hard to hold on to his place ahead of Gibbs and Bertrand.
Jack Wilshere (25-year-old), Josh McEachran (24-year-old), Tom Cleverley (28-year-old), Jack Rodwell (26-year-old), Jonjo Shelvey (25-year-old), Nick Powell (23-year-old), Theo Walcott (28-year-old), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (24-year-old), Raheem Sterling (22-year-old), Wilfried Zaha (24-year-old)
While it will be hard to replace midfielders like Lampard and Gerrard in the squad, England have an excellent crop of new midfielders coming up. Jack Wilshere is expected to become the mainstay in the center of the park along with the likes of Josh McEachran, Tom Cleverley, Jack Rodwell, Jonjo Shelvey and Nick Powell.
England will be well equipped when it comes to the wing positions. The likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott have already established themselves in the senior team, while Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha are waiting on the wings. Selecting two wingers among these four will certainly provide the national team coach with a lot of headaches. One can safely say that England will have one of the best collections of wingers in the near future.
Wayne Rooney (31-year-old), Danny Welbeck (26-year-old), Daniel Sturridge (28-year-old), Andy Carroll (28-year-old), Connor Wickham (24-year-old), Gary Hooper (29-year-old)
The current forward line is quite young and there won’t be any notable change in this part of the squad in near future. Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Andy Carroll (yes, he will be there) will support Wayne Rooney upfront. The only two names one can expect to see being added to the squad is Sunderland’s talented youngster Connor Wickham and Gary Hooper of Celtic.
England seems to be very well covered in all the departments, except for the centre-backs. A lot will depend upon how Caulker and Jones will develop over the upcoming seasons. The Three Lions’ midfield has the potential to be one of the best in Europe. England’s transition will be complete before the 2016 Euro in France and they will be one of the teams to watch out for, till then the fans can hope that the experienced players can go out with a bang in Brazil.