Liverpool’s England World Cup Hopefuls – The Verdict

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With Roy Hodgson visiting Brazil this week, and set to announce his 30 man squad for the March friendly against Denmark on February 27, Jack Lusby assesses the chances of Liverpool’s English players in being included.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, June 2, 2012: England's captain Steven Gerrard in action against Belgium during the International Friendly match at Wembley. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

As the final friendly before this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, those included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the upcoming Denmark friendly are ostensibly those in the running for the real deal.

At Liverpool, there are six outstanding candidates most likely to have taken Hodgson’s fancy.

Steven Gerrard

Liverpool’s talismanic captain has dragged the club out of the mire time and time again, both in previous seasons and – with the recent win over Fulham for example – the current.

For England, Gerrard was labelled part of a ‘Golden Generation’ of players who, disappointingly, have never quite fulfilled their potential on the international stage.

Nonetheless, Gerrard remains one of the country’s top performers.

Statistical analysts Squawka attribute Hodgson’s elected captain with a shot accuracy of 64 percent and an 85 percent passing accuracy in the Premier League this season.

As a central defensive midfielder England have a player who is equally able to provide from deep as weigh in with important goals.

He’ll be 34 by the time the tournament starts and Brazil could be Gerrard’s last hurrah for his country.

Glen Johnson

Right-back is far and away one of the biggest problems positions within the England squad.

Glen Johnson remains Hodgson’s first choice, with Tottenham’s Kyle Walker his substandard deputy.

However, this season, Johnson has looked far off the pace.

The Guardian reported recently that the right-back was suffering from a variety of injuries, with Brendan Rodgers proffering:

“Glen has played a lot of the season with injuries and really put himself out for the team, but unfortunately he is struggling with a number of injuries now.”

This is a suggestion that goes some way into understanding Johnson’s drop in form.

It isn’t guaranteed that Johnson will return to the first-team fold with ease however, given the admirable performances of Jon Flanagan in his stead. Although, Johnson’s return will likely see Flanagan switch to left-back.

Whilst his club position may stand in jeopardy, Johnson’s position as an England mainstay can be considered safe for at least the next major competition. Buy your travel pillow now, Glen.

Daniel Sturridge

HERNING, DENMARK - Sunday, June 12, 2011: England's xxxx and Spain's xxxx during the UEFA Under-21 Championship Denmark 2011 Group B match at the MCH Arena (Herning Stadium). (Photo by Vegard Grott/Propaganda)

Daniel Sturridge’s goal-scoring record speaks for itself.

16 goals in 18 Premier League appearances this season attests to the striker’s claims to a place in Hodgson’s squad.

Currently, England’s next most clinical finishers are Jay Rodriguez of Southampton (10 goals), and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (9 goals). Sturridge stands head and shoulders above the competition.

Brendan Rodgers recently forecast a world-class future for the striker, according to Sky Sports:

“He’s a magnificent talent and I’ve always said that I think over the course of the next couple of years, he’s got the chance to make himself a world-class striker.”

Without a doubt England’s best natural goal-scorer, Sturridge can surely sleep safe as a definite for the Brazil World Cup, let alone the Denmark friendly.

Jordan Henderson

In the pantheon of top performers for Liverpool this season stands Jordan Henderson: Anfield’s underdog MVP.

The former Sunderland man is an ever-present in Rodgers’ side in the Premier League this season.

Furthermore, it can definitely be argued that there is a place for Henderson in the England midfield. With Gerrard naturally moving further towards the defence, Henderson has proven the perfect complement to the captain’s perceived lack of legs.

However a robust engine is a mere single facet of the Englishman’s developing game: for example, according to Squawka, Henderson has an 87% pass success rate in this season’s Premier League.

Come the end of February, Roy Hodgson should look to Henderson as the perfect counterpart to Gerrard’s tenacity and Jack Wilshere’s guile.

Whether or not his lowly reputation stands in the way remains to be seen; consider Henderson a realistic hopeful.

Raheem Sterling

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring the fifth goal against Tottenham Hotspur during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One of the most exciting young players to grace the Premier League in many years, Sterling has impressed immeasurably in a three-pronged Liverpool attack in recent months.

Often lazily daubed as lightweight due to his deceiving stature, the Jamaican-born winger possesses both pace and power, whilst his tactical nous grows by the game.

Brendan Rodgers said recently of Sterling:

“He is one of the most tactically aware players I have worked with.”

Sterling proves a surprisingly effective defensive option. His average duels won rate of 53 percent, according to Squawka, is a feat only bettered by natural defenders Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel, and Glen Johnson.

With Theo Walcott facing long-term injury, Sterling will be hoping his form can propel himself into the England reckoning. Becoming a stronger bet by the game.

Jon Flanagan

Since his inclusion in the Liverpool eleven for the home defeat to Arsenal back in November, Flanagan has established himself as one of the most in-form English right-backs in the Premier League.

However, his chances of catching Hodgson’s eye at this late juncture are markedly slim.

The Daily Mail reported recently on Southampton left-back Luke Shaw’s international prospects, with Hodgson opining:

“Shaw is the obvious one (to bring in) because he has been playing last season and has been in the team non-stop since the start of this season.”

This seems to go against Flanagan’s chances at the moment, with the 20-year-old only recently returning to the fold with Liverpool after a lengthy exile.

Despite impressing at club level, and the poor form of both Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker, perhaps now is too soon for Flanagan.

Do you agree with these verdicts? Which Liverpool stars deserve an England call-up? Let us know in the comments below.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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