Sam Wallace comment: Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker should NOT be included in England World Cup squad

The England squad will be announced at 2pm on Monday

Among some of the more striking statistics in Greg Dyke’s Commission report into the ailing state of the English footballer is the comparison with elite players from other leading European countries. An elite player is defined as one who plays 50 per cent of the minutes for a top six club in one of the five top European leagues (Premier League, Spain’s Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1) and the bald truth is Roy Hodgson does not have many of them.

In the past year there have been 45 players who fall into this category eligible to play for France; 42 for Spain and Germany, but only 18 for England, the lowest of those countries with a top five league. In terms of nationality of players in this season’s Champions League group stages, England was the eighth best represented nation, with fewer Englishmen playing in those games than there were Argentinians.

Over to you, Roy. The Commission report will not tell Hodgson much he does not already know when it comes to selecting the 23 players, the names of whom he will announce on Monday at the Vauxhall head office in Luton. He is not exactly spoiled for choice. It is why he admitted two weeks ago that he has known the squad for some time and is attending games in the hope of seeing his choices confirmed.

If that sounds conservative it is because that is precisely what Hodgson is at heart. Nevertheless, a few recent injuries to Andros Townsend and Phil Jones may well force a rethink, and there are still the longer term, difficult issues around Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker.

My money would be on Hodgson taking Wilshere, even though he only played the last half hour for Arsenal against Norwich on Sunday. Walker is a closer call. My preference would be to leave them both behind. Wilshere’s previous game was on 5 March in the England friendly against Denmark. Walker limped off in Tottenham’s Europa League defeat to Benfica eight days later and was not even on the bench against Aston Villa. This is a chance for Hodgson to make a statement: pick the fit and the in-form, not the infirm.

He may yet pick only one specialist right-back and use Jones and Chris Smalling as cover. My preference would be a call-up for the uncapped Jon Flanagan, Glen Johnson’s understudy at Liverpool who has in recent times moved over to play left-back. England are rich in left-backs,  but poor on the right flank, especially with the injury to Jones.

Leaving Wilshere behind is a tough call because the player promised so much when he first broke through into the England side in the 2010-2011 season and sustained his ankle injury in his match-rescuing performance against Switzerland in June 2011. But before he cracked a navicular bone in March, his performances this season were not enough to warrant taking him half-fit to Brazil in the hope he would pull through.

There are alternatives to Wilshere in midfield. Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Jordan Henderson and Ross Barkley would be my central midfield selections. Lampard will be the most contentious – he usually is – but he has fulfilled an important role for Jose Mourinho this season and Hodgson has stressed the need for good tourists. In a relatively young squad, his experience would be a good counter-balance.

Andros Townsend would have been in my squad, even in spite of his deployment chiefly as a substitute by Tim Sherwood at Spurs, until his injury against Stoke City last month. My original suggestion was to take nine midfielders and three strikers but in Townsend’s absence the adjustment would be to give Rickie Lambert a place as the fourth striker and reduce the midfield count to eight.

If Facebook has a World Cup team, this is what it would look like...

 

As wide players/attackers my selection would be Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. This is the squad’s most inexperienced area, with 64 caps between them (45 belonging to Milner) and the added risk that Oxlade-Chamberlain’s groin problems have caused him to miss the last three weeks. He would be my one concession to injury, given that his lay-off has not been too extreme.

The form of Sterling and Lallana makes them obvious choices. Although he gets so little of the credit I would say the same of Milner too. His driving runs down the right against Aston Villa on Wednesday were one of Manchester City’s better features and he was unlucky to be substituted. Milner is an excellent option to have and it would be inconceivable that Hodgson would leave the player behind.

In defence the centre-halves – Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Smalling and Jones – are straightforward choices. With Ashley Cole no longer in Hodgson's plans, Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw will be the left-backs.

The strikers, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Lambert, are a worryingly easy selection although it does nag away that Lambert could be chronically under-used. Had he been fit, my preference would have been Jay Rodriguez. Would the place be better given to a more interesting, younger player? The worrying truth is that there is no one out there. Wilfried Zaha has faded away in the Premier League; Ravel Morrison has gone down to the Championship on loan.

As for Team Stand-By, the call no one wants, it is a pretty unhappy departure lounge. Four of my predictions, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson have all been to tournaments before. Adam Johnson was on the stand-by for the Euro 2012 squad. That is going to be one grumpy camp of players.

If the news is bad on Jones; if Hodgson decides that Walker and Wilshere are not fit enough then the England manager is going to find himself going deeper and deeper into that shallow talent pool. His counterparts Didier Deschamps, Vicente del Bosque and Joachim Löw are more concerned with the talent they are leaving out rather than the misgivings about those they may have to include.

As Hodgson reveals the men in his squad on Monday he will do so against the backdrop of one of the FA’s more ill-conceived plans to improve the quality of players coming into the national squad. Yet none of that really matters much for the English manager of the day. He knows he simply must perform well enough at the next tournament to ensure that he does not return to a country that has decided it is he, rather than the lack of players, who is the problem.

Sam Wallace’s England squad

Goalkeepers

Joe Hart, Ben Foster, John Ruddy

Defenders

Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Leighton Baines, Luke Shaw

Midfielders

Adam Lallana, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling

Forwards

Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Written protest: Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, has sent an open letter to the Culture Secretary
books
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss