May 22 2013 Latest news:
By Nick Wright
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
England face qualifying rivals San Marino and Montenegro over the coming week as they look to secure their passage to the World Cup in Brazil next year.
The Three Lions will be aiming to take top spot from Montenegro in Group H having already dropped points against Ukraine and Poland. Here London24 Sport takes a look at five members of the England squad who have a point to prove to national coach Roy Hodgson and their critics.
In the absence of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, Parker has earned his first England call-up since Euro 2012. The 32-year-old enjoyed an excellent campaign with Spurs last season but his struggles at the Euros led Hodgson to look at other, younger midfield options. The former West Ham man has made no secret of his desire to win back his place, but he faces an uphill battle to force his way back into Hodgson’s thoughts on a long-term basis.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was Hodgson’s surprise pick for Euro 2012 after bursting onto the scene with some dazzling performances in his first season with Arsenal. This campaign has been fairly muted for the 19-year-old, however, and he will be hoping to remind the coach what persuaded him to gamble and take him to Poland and Ukraine. The Ox netted his first England goal against San Marino back in October and another strike against the Group H whipping boys on Friday would be a good way to start.
With Rio Ferdinand, Michael Dawson, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka all unavailable, Tottenham youngster Caulker could get a chance to add to the England cap he won against Sweden back in November. The 21-year-old has been tipped for a big future with the Three Lions and scored on his debut in the 4-2 defeat against the Swedes. He handled the considerable threat of Zlatan Ibrahimovic well that day too, and it wasn’t until after his substitution that the PSG hitman netted his second, third and fourth goals. Caulker is still some way down Hodgson’s pecking order for now, but this week he has the chance to prove that he is an able deputy.
Despite a decent tally of 33 goals in 79 appearances for England, there is still the nagging sense that Manchester United’s Rooney has not reached his full potential for his country. His below-par performances at Euro 2012 were the latest in a series of big game no-shows from the 27-year-old, but after hitting four goals in his last three international appearances, he needs to show he has turned a corner. England need him firing on all cylinders to get their World Cup chance in Brazil.
The 2012 PFA Young Player of the Year has struggled to live up to expectations this season, with some Spurs fans scratching their heads at his loss of form. Last season Walker looked set to overtake Liverpool’s Glen Johnson as England’s first-choice right-back but his challenge has tailed off since missing Euro 2012 with a toe injury. While Johnson appears to be first in Hodgson’s thoughts, Walker could get a chance against either San Marino or Montenegro. It’s up to him to take it with both hands.