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Five Young Players Who Should Be in England's Squad vs Denmark

26/02/2014 17:36 GMT | Updated 28/04/2014 10:59 BST

Roy Hodgson is to announce his squad for England's friendly with Denmark on Thursday. The match represents the last opportunity for the England boss to experiment before he finalises his provisional World Cup squad in May.

With English expectations low going into the tournament, it's possible that Hodgson will take a young squad out to Brazil to gain invaluable experience and build for the future.

With that in mind, Hodgson may use the game against Denmark to cast his eye over some of the young prospects on the brink of breaking into the World Cup squad. Having hinted recently that Ashley Cole is nearing the end of his international career due to his advancing age, it's possible that other veterans could face the same fate.

5. Luke Shaw

The latest product of Southampton's ludicrously prolific youth system, Shaw has been courted by nearly all of the Premier League's top clubs. Over the last year and a half, sums of up to £25m have reportedly been offered despite the left-back being just 18 years old.

With Ashley Cole clearly on the wane and Leighton Baines's lack of defensive prowess being repeatedly exposed against top teams, the Denmark friendly could be Shaw's chance to show his composure on the international stage.

The presence of Baines means that it's unlikely that Shaw will be first choice in Brazil, even if he dazzles against the Danes and has a fantastic end to his Premier League season. However, he could be a valuable understudy and gain vital experience while he's out there.

4. Saido Berahino

Whilst very unlikely to end up on the plane to Brazil, Berahino has been playing as well as can be expected for a young striker in a struggling side.

Although the West Brom striker is unlikely to make it to the World Cup, he's clearly a great prospect for the future - you only have to look at his record for England Under-21s to see his potential (six goals in four games, if you're wondering).

It could be that Hodgson picks Berahino in his squad against Denmark just to give him some experience of being around the English first team setup.

3. Wilfried Zaha

Zaha's England future appeared bright when he made his debut against Sweden in 2012, but his career has stagnated since moving to Manchester United in the summer of 2013.

After making the switch, Zaha found himself on the fringes at United and was not involved in David Moyes's plans, playing just two league games before being loaned to Cardiff City on the January transfer window deadline day.

In less than a month in South Wales, Zaha has made three appearances and impressed, providing a timely reminder of his talents to Roy Hodgson.

Now that Zaha's getting game time again, he's in the frame for a World Cup spot and the friendly at Wembley would be the perfect chance for Hodgson to take a closer look at the 21-year-old's progress.

2. Ross Barkley

Compared to Paul Gascoigne by manager Roberto Martinez, Barkley is one of the most exciting midfield talents England has produced for many years.

Unlike some of his young English counterparts, Barkley offers more than just a high work rate and reckless tackling. Quick off the mark, with outstanding ball control and the ability to snap off a thunderbolt shot, Barkley is close to the full package.

The Everton starlet has the spark that England have lacked in previous international tournaments and Roy Hodgson should be doing as much as he can to integrate Barkley into the squad and ready him for a starring role at the World Cup.

1. Raheem Sterling

Sterling has been one of the most improved English players this season. Previously, the Liverpool teenager was seen as a promising talent but raw.

This term, however, he's matured dramatically under Brendan Rogers. Having struggled to nail down a place in the starting lineup at Anfield last season, he's made 25 appearances this season already, forming a strong partnership with compatriot Daniel Sturridge.

Roy Hodgson already has a number of young wingers at his disposal, but with injuries mounting, it seems sensible to give Sterling a chance to stake a claim for a place should a spot on the plane to Brazil open up.

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