England manager Roy Hodgson has admitted he still has an open mind about who will be in the squad he takes to the World Cup finals, and even which players will start the opening games.
Although many observers saw the 30-man squad for Wednesday’s friendly with Denmark as the blueprint for those who will travel to Brazil, Hodgson says there is still a lot more experimentation to be done. England play their first group game against Italy on June 14.
“We’ve got to know what the balance of our team is,” said Hodgson. “I’m sure there will be players who, when I name the 23 and the seven stand-by players, might not even be in that group of 30 [for Wednesday]. The Denmark game is very much where I’ve got to think about what experimentations I need. If we take Steven Gerrard, does he need to play against Denmark to prove to me that he needs to play against Italy? Would I be better off playing somebody else because I know what Steven Gerrard can do?”
With England due to meet Uruguay and Costa Rica in their group as well, Hodgson also wants to be flexible. “My thinking is about getting the best XI for the way we want to play against the opponent on the field,” he admitted, doubting the formula of, say, picking Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Dean Sturridge because they work well together for Liverpool.
“I don’t think you should be putting people in the team just because they play alongside somebody in their club side if they’re not the best man for the job,” he insisted.