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Hodgson confirms he will name experimental squad
12:03pm Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Sport
England manager Roy Hodgson's squad for the final friendly before he names his party for Brazil is expected to have an experimental feel to it when it is announced at Wembley tomorrow.
The World Cup may be over two months away, but, following the announcement at Wembley, it will become apparent which players are in Hodgson's most immediate thoughts when it comes to his 23-man squad for Brazil. It is a big day for a number of Saints players.
The 66-year-old will name a large squad - of around 30 players - for next Wednesday's friendly against Denmark in London.
And, given that there are no more international matches scheduled before Hodgson names his provisional World Cup squad, a lot is at stake.
Having endured back-to-back defeats to Chile and Germany last November, a third successive loss would not be good for morale, but that will not stop Hodgson trying new things out in the friendly.
"There will be an element of experimentation," he said.
"All friendly matches have the same purpose. There is an element of trying to make certain that if you do have some ideas, perhaps tactical ones, this could be a good occasion to try them out.
"And on this particular occasion we will name a bigger squad than we normally do."
Hodgson mostly stuck to the same group of players during the qualifying campaign - particularly in the early stages - but now there seems to be a long list of players who could force their way onto the plane at the last minute.
Indeed, Hodgson name-dropped seven players when he was asked to suggest who was in the frame to replace the injured Theo Walcott.
Raheem Sterling, Adam Johnson, Wilfried Zaha, Nathan Redmond, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend were all mentioned by the England manager at a media briefing two weeks ago.
There may even be a recall for his team-mate Jay Rodriguez, even though the former Burnley man looked out of place on his debut against Chile.
But it is the name of another Southampton player everyone at Wembley will be looking out for when Hodgson names his squad at 3pm on Thursday - that of Luke Shaw.
Shaw has enjoyed a superb season at Southampton and, even though the left-back is just 18 years old, Hodgson is a big fan.
"Luke Shaw is a player who could quite easily play for England, not only in the future but today," Hodgson said.
There could be a first call-up for Shaw's Saints team-mate Nathaniel Clyne, too, as Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker is suffering from a hip injury, although Jon Flanagan is another intriguing possibility for Hodgson in that position.
After endless talk about the dearth of English talent coming through the ranks, Hodgson has been encouraged to see the likes of Shaw, Clyne and Flanagan playing regular first-team football.
But that does not necessarily mean his World Cup squad will be awash with untried youngsters.
"We can't just throw every senior player aside because maybe in 2016 there will be even more youngsters coming through," Hodgson said recently after the Euro 2016 qualifying draw.
"But we always want to make certain that we do select some young players."
There are others who could receive call-ups. Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore have been playing well for Hull; West Ham striker Andy Carroll and West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster are fit again following long lay-offs.
Kieran Gibbs and Phil Jones may miss out due to their respective buttock and hip injuries.
Whoever is called up, they will be given a taste of what to expect if they make the plane to Brazil as Hodgson is hoping to relay some of the plans he has made as a result of his fact-finding trip to South America last week.
"Even though the focus is on Denmark, we also want to introduce some ideas to the players that we have with regard to going to Brazil, about how we are going to do things logistically," Hodgson added.