World Cup 2014 Preview: England counting on youth movement

 

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Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones, Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson, and Danny Welbeck will all head to Brazil under the age of 24.

Cole made his debut for England in 2001 and represented his country in three World Cups, amassing 107 caps during his international career, but Hodgson felt it was time for some of the younger players to get a chance on the big stage.

One of the most intriguing selections was that of 18-year-old Southampton defender Shaw, who had an excellent season with the Saints, helping the club finish eighth in the Premier League last season.

"The emerging Shaw has had a wonderful season, capturing the headlines with his form and ability," Hodgson said. "Circumstances will prove whether it was the right decision to take the younger player."

While Shaw is unlikely to start, the back line is likely to feature Glen Johnson, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines -- all of whom have significant international experience.

Cahill and Jagielka were rocks in the middle for Chelsea and Everton, respectively, while Baines has been capped 22 times for England. Johnson has 50 appearances. It is Johnson, however, that has the most to prove after struggling down the stretch of the Premier League season for Liverpool.

A couple of the "old guard" for England remain in the midfield where captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will play together, but youth still reigns supreme with youngsters Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Adam Lallana and Sterling ready to seize their opportunities, should they be called upon.

The experienced Wayne Rooney will lead a forward corps that features Manchester United teammate Welbeck, along with breakout Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge and Southampton's Rickie Lambert.

Rooney, who has 89 caps and 38 goals in his England career, will lead the line next to Sturridge, who netted an impressive 21 goals last season for a resurgent Liverpool team.

Taking so many young players could be a bit of a risk for Hodgson, but the manager feels they are up for the task, and hopefully for England fans, the young legs will help the team erase the memory of a 4-1 defeat to Germany in the knockout stages of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Drawn into a difficult group with Uruguay, Costa Rica and Italy, the Three Lions road out of the group stages will not be easy, but they certainly have the talent to make to the knockout round, and possibly the quarterfinals.

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