England: Line-up options for the World Cup 0

Sky Sports subscribers who haven’t already seen last night’s edition of The Footballers’ Football Show should probably try and catch it at some point - it’s actually - and unusually for Sky - a very informative program and it does shed some new light on the preparation which goes into a major tournament.

Anyway…

Qualifying for World Cups is relatively easy for a country with as strong a football culture as England, but obviously it’s really what happens in the competition itself which matters. Roy Hodgson will presumably know the vast majority of his 23-man squad already and on the basis that it’s not too hard to guess who will and who won’t be traveling to Brazil, here are a couple of line-up options for the Summer:

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The ‘obvious’ option. This is probably closest to what we’re likely to see from Hodgson. One of his characteristics is loyalty to certain players, and you would expect James Milner and Andros Townsend to be the beneficiaries of that - both have played for him at this level before, both have performed relatively well. Whilst Daniel Sturridge has never really been a preferred choice for England, it would take a very brave manager to ignore his Liverpool form and incur the wrath of the media - as things stand, he’s a certain starter.

It’s a functional side with a traditional feel to it - a team built in Hodgson’s image, if you like.

The ‘balls-out, to hell with the consequences’ option. Raheem Sterling will be assessed in the upcoming friendly with Denmark, but he’s another who surely has a very good chance of starting - and if that’s the direction Hodgson wants to take he’ll have to adjust the shape of the team to accommodate the teenager. Sterling is more of an inside-forward than a wide midfielder, hence for security reasons he would probably have to play as part of a front-three.

This is the side that gets picked if Hodgson is feeling especially brave: load the team with pace, throw the ‘structure’ out the window, and just try to rough-up some teams on the way to inevitable failure. It might not be successful, but it would be entertaining - and actually it’s probably the most natural way for a Premier League-based team to play.

The ‘security-first, bore everyone rigid’ option. As fun as it looks; pack the midfield, play two hard-working wide players, and let Wayne Rooney chase around in the humidity by himself for ninety minutes.

At some point, we’ll see a variation of this formation - sadly. Given how inefficient England are at keeping possession at international level, strength in numbers will at some point become a very viable option. If Hodgson finds himself with a lead against Italy or Uruguay, you can expect this old chestnut to be taken out of the cupboard and dusted down.

You can see it already: ten England players huddled around their own box, Rooney miles off in the distance, everybody just waiting for the final-whistle.

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