Guest blogger Richard Smith takes a look into the future…don’t forget, coverage is on ITV1 tonight and kick off is 7:15pm.
Itâ€™s the first International fixture of 2011 this week and with all eyes firmly fixed on qualifying for next yearâ€™s European Championships, it is sure to be a pivotal year for all concerned with the England setup. Namely Fabio Capello, who has already announced that he is stepping down after (or before if the Three Lions fail to qualify) the Euros but also many of the senior players who are coming to the end of their international careers.
Euro 2012 will almost certainly be the last international tournament that many of the established England players will participate in, with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Ashely Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch all likely to call it a day, therefore it is interesting to wonder, even at this early stage, what the likely squad and team will be assuming of course they qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
One player who will almost certainly still be around will be Wayne Rooney, who by then may even be the captain of the team. Rooney will be 29 in 2014 the same age as Pele was when he stole the show for Brazil in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Rooney is certainly including in the following suggested 23 man squad:
Joe Hart â€“ Manchester City. Hart will be an experienced 27 year old by 2014 and is already regarded as one of the leading keepers in the world and a player who should be at the top for some time.
Ben Foster â€“ Birmingham City. Not in the current squad but playing well for Birmingham following his move from Manchester United. Foster will not be everyoneâ€™s choice but has an advantage over his rivals by playing regularly in the Premier League.
Frank Fielding â€“ Blackburn. Recently called up by Fabio Capello to the full squad and made his debut against Hungary last August. Only 22 at the moment, he is certainly one to keep your eye on in the between now and 2014.
Gary Cahill â€“ Bolton. Has been receiving the plaudits for a couple of years now, Cahill will be one of several central defenders who are seen as natural replacements for either John Terry or Rio Ferdinand. Has 1 senior cap and is 25 years old but is likely to more on from Bolton will will also aid his international progress.
Micah Richards â€“ Manchester City. Maturing as a player of substance at Eastlands, Richards always had a great talent but it was just his â€˜bad boyâ€™ image that let him down. He should be a top class defender by the next World Cup with his private life seemingly back on track.
Kieran Gibbs â€“ Arsenal. A richly talented left back who has made several appearances for the â€˜Gunnersâ€™ already. Aged just 21 he would seem to be a natural replacement for Ashley Cole.
Chris Smalling â€“ Manchester United. Another hugely talented defender who can play in central defence or as full back. United paid Â£10m for him from Fulham when he was just 20 years old which gives some indication of his talent. He is playing more and more for United and has a bright forture and could be a possible captain further down the line.
Kyle Walker â€“ Spurs. Currently on loan at Aston Villa, this exceptional right back will challenge Richards for that role in the team. Has been called up by Capello for the first time for the friendly in Denmark.
Michael Dawson â€“ Spurs. He will be a very experienced central defender by the time of the next World Cup. He is one of those expected to replace John Terry once the Chelsea man has hung up his international boots.
Phil Jagielka â€“ Everton. Another player who will offer the England team reliability and experience at the back. He has earned seven caps under Capello and although not necessarily everyoneâ€™s choice, it would make sense to have a player like him available.
Aaron Lennon â€“ Spurs. Very exciting right sided player who has improved out of all proportion over the last two years. Very quick, tricky and who can score goals, he will be a certainty for Brazil.
James Milner â€“ Manchester City. Extremely versatile midfielder who can play out wide or in the middle. He is very highly thought of, has World Cup Finals experience and will be at his peak in Brazil at the age of 27.
Theo Walcott â€“ Arsenal. Another right sided player who offers searing pace with great perception. Missed out in South Africa, should not miss out in Brazil.
Jack Wilshere â€“ Arsenal. Has been a revelation for Arsenal this season in his central midfield role, where he can either anchor or push forward. Has tremendous passing ability and can only get better.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain â€“ Southampton. Already being tipped to be on the books of a big club by the start on next season, this exciting 17 year old has the ability to be an absolute sensation. Has broken into the Under 21 squad and is the talking player in League One at the moment but not for long with a move to the Premier League surely not too far away.
Jack Rodwell â€“ Everton. Another top class player in the making, Rodwell is now starting to command a regular place in the Everton midfield, having first made his debut as a 16 year old. Regarded as a defensive midfielder, Rodwell is not with goal scoring ability as well and is a certain star of the future.
Adam Johnson â€“ Manchester City. A top class player who will play for England for a very long time to come. He will be at his absolute peak come 2014 and will be one of the most important England players.
Jordan Henderson â€“ Sunderland. Another highly regarded progressive player who made his full England debut against France in November. Hugely talented and a very powerful player he will be a huge asset to the Englandâ€™s central midfield.
Wayne Rooney â€“ Manchester United. Could well be captain by the time the team take off for Brazil in 2014. Not having the best period of his football life currently, but Rooney is sheer class and will be a big threat to any defence in Brazil.
Andy Carroll â€“ Liverpool. Could well partner Rooney up front, Carroll has great height, determination, ability and will improve greatly over the next few years now heâ€™s at Liverpool.
Gabriel Agbonlahor â€“ Aston Villa. This very speedy striker has been tipped for several years now to become a huge player for England. So far that has not materialised but he should get more chancesÂ to impress in the near future.
Daniel Sturridge â€“ Chelsea. Currently on loan with Bolton, who he scored for on his debut, this 21 year old has not had too many chances to impress as yet at Stamford Bridge, but when he has had the opportunities he has grabbed them. Yet to fully emerge as a top striker, but he is on his way!