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England World Cup squad: Who's on the plane?

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By Stephen Sharman

Saturday 01 February 2014

With the World Cup a few months away, A Different League looks at which players have increased their chances of making England’s summer squad, who needs to do better and who is already on the plane…

In Contention

Gareth Barry - Everton

Once an England regular under Fabio Capello, Barry has fallen out of favour in the past few years. Now on loan at Everton, Barry’s excellent performances for the Merseyside team have given him a small chance of being selected in Hodgson’s squad.

Although Carrick is seen ahead of Barry in the pecking order, Barry has performed the better out of the two this season with three goals and three assists to his name, whereas Carrick has yet to register either for United. One thing letting Barry down, however, is the reminder of his performance in the last World Cup against Germany, where he was run ragged by Mesut Ozil in the game that saw England thrashed 4-1. But if his good performances continue for Everton then Barry might have a slim chance of making the 23-man squad.

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling - Liverpool

Still only 19, Sterling has progressed quickly whilst under the management of Brendan Rodgers, becoming a regular in Liverpool’s XI. With the recent injury to Theo Walcott and the news the Arsenal wide man will miss the World Cup, a place in the squad is up for grabs.

Sterling has played at every level for England, appearing once for the senior team, starting in a friendly with Sweden. His lightning pace makes him one of the fastest in the league, and with his relationship with fellow Liverpool player Daniel Sturridge ever evolving, Sterling will certainly be one of the options for Hodgson.

Improvement Needed

Chris Smalling - Manchester United

The defender has had a poor season in his 16 appearances so far, times for his club, with his club struggling to replicate the form that saw them win the Premier League title last season. Smalling has been played along the back line for United under David Moyes, regularly featuring at right-back and occasions in the centre of defence. But having had to fight for a place, Smalling has found himself on the bench for much of this season.

With the return to fitness of Nemanja Vidic and the form of Jonny Evans, Smalling has found it hard to retain a place. In England’s most recent friendlies last year against Chile and Germany, Smalling looked far from convincing, which won’t have done his chances of a World Cup place much good.

Tom Cleverley

Tom Cleverley - Manchester United

Since the appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager, Cleverley has regularly featured in the England squad. The midfielder, 24, has played 13 times for his country despite not performing consistently for his club. Cleverley has featured 17 times for United this season having been used in the absence of the injured Michael Carrick.

Although he was seen as one of the brightest prospects to come out of the United academy, Cleverley’s contribution to the side has been minimal since his promotion to the first team. This season the youngster has scored one and is yet to not provide any assists for his teammates. With the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard coming to the end of their international careers, Cleverley’s form and contribution must improve if he is to become their replacement in England’s midfield.

Glen Johnson - Liverpool

Although it was revealed Johnson has been playing with numerous injuries this season, Liverpool’s right-back has failed to repeat past form which has seen him make the position in the England side his own.

The defender was one of Liverpool’s most consistent defenders last season, playing in 36 of the club’s league matches scoring once and providing three assists for his team mates. Johnson is in his fifth season at Anfield and at 29 is one of the more experienced players at the Merseyside club. His poor form and niggling injuries though this year will be a worry for Hodgson, whose options at right-back are limited with Kyle Walker the other alternative.

Dead Cert

Danny Welbeck - Manchester United

The Manchester United striker will almost certainly be on the plane to Brazil if his current form continues at club level. Despite only scoring once in the league last season, Welbeck’s form for England has seen him score eight goals in 20 appearances and has become more lethal in front of goal at international level.

At club leve, Welbeck’s recent form has brought eight league goals in 16 games for United. With his spot in the squad as good as guaranteed, he will come up against the in-form Sturridge for a place in Hodgson’s first XI, although Welbeck has shown his ability as a wide player if required.

See what the expert tipsters are tipping on OLBG

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