21/11/2013 05:46 GMT | Updated 21/11/2013 06:02 GMT

Roy Hodgson's England World Cup Squad: Why Take Steven Gerrard And Frank Lampard?

(From L to R) Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Coach Roy Hodgson and John Terry take part in an official training session one day ahead of World Cup 2014 qualifier match against Moldova in Chisinau city September 6, 2012. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/GettyImages)

With six months to go until England's World Cup squad is named, deliberating over who should make the cut is usually a meaningless exercise, only Roy Hodgson has warned supporters not to expect any surprises.

"I don't expect in the coming months to be watching games and suddenly find players I have never really thought of jump out at me and prove to be a lot better," Hodgson said after Tuesday's defeat to Germany.

This is disheartening and familiar news for England supporters eager for change. The Football Association has opened St George's Park and announced there will be a commission to improve the national side, but the man who matters still selects Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

Relics from two previous World Cup failures, if either make a genuine difference in Brazil it would be the biggest miracle in the country since its late 1960s economic growth.

Gareth Barry, however "underrated" he is for Everton, no longer plays for England partly because he resembled a Mini against the Germans' Mercedes in that knockout humiliation three-and-a-half-years ago. Gerrard and Lampard also started that 1-4 disaster in Bloemfontein, and it is unfathomable why two seasoned coaches in Fabio Capello and Hodgson have continued to rely on them.

Hodgson suggested there would be no surprises in his World Cup squad

England can win the World Cup next year. Tournament triumphs this century by Greece, Porto, Liverpool and Chelsea are proof that pragmatism and negativity can bring success, which suits Hodgson. Only England have attempted this approach before.

Traditionally, they are defensively solid at tournaments and conceded just three goals in four Euro 2012 matches. At the 2006 World Cup, two in five were sieved, and it was just three in five in the 2002 finals. The caveat is England's sturdiness leads to penalties, which they lose on, usually at the quarter-final stage.

Hodgson's quotes suggest the conservative approach could continue, and don't hold your breath on it being addressed by a disgruntled member of the FA commission.



Even when he plays well these days Joe Hart can't resist a rash dash, spectacularly taking a teammate out in the process and inducing more anxiety than Robert Green. He produced his best performance in over a year against Germany, though, and will be in the squad whether he regains his Manchester City berth from Costel Pantilimon or not. Fraser Forster should deputise, but doubts linger over John Ruddy's flagging form, and Ben Foster, who played under Hodgson at West Brom and was coaxed out of international retirement by the England coach, could return to the squad once he is fit again.


The eight names pick themselves, really. Only injury to either Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole will grant Kieran Gibbs or Luke Shaw a ticket to Brazil, with Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson vying for the right-back role. Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill appear to be the first-choice defensive partnership, and will be ably backed-up by Manchester United duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

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The ultimate quandary. Gerrard and Lampard really oughtn't be at the World Cup but almost certainly will be. Gerrard will likely be partnered by Michael Carrick, with Jack Wilshere the bulldog-cum-yard-dog possibly drafted in to make it a triumvirate against the fiercer foes. Tom Cleverley is extraordinarily lucky to have started on Tuesday and should be omitted unless he sparkles at United for the first time in over two years, whereas Adam Lallana's reputation has been enhanced, so he should make it. However, Ross Barkley's decision-making for club and country the last two months has alarmingly regressed, and Ravel Morrison's exclusion for Chile and Germany's visits was a missed opportunity when he is one of the few English footballers with an X-factor.


With Andros Townsend, Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney safely on the plane, Hodgson must select from a number of flawed options. Danny Welbeck is purportedly an attacker yet invariably excels anywhere but in attack, Aaron Lennon arguably doesn't deserve a chance on the basis of his maddening crossing, but the other options are underwhelming or under-played by their club managers. Jermain Defoe's 55 international caps might convince Hodgson to include him, even though he is hardly getting a kick in the Premier League with Tottenham, while Rickie Lambert will take the battering ram role. Theo Walcott's brainless play has benefited England once in over seven years.