ROY Hodgson officially named his squad for the World Cup earlier this week, and I don’t really have much of a problem with it.
The headline omission was Ashley Cole. I would be a little worried throwing Luke Shaw into the pressure of a World Cup should Leighton Baines pick up an injury, but you have to agree that giving Shaw the experience of being around the squad is a good idea.
The only other real shock was that Michael Carrick is not in the squad. Like Cole, he has not enjoyed a great season and is getting on in years, but I think he could have been a valuable player in the heat of Brazil.
At this point, I have to give myself something of a pat on the back. Back in November, I selected the squad I would pick to travel to the World Cup.
Of the 23 I suggested, 16 made the cut, while a further three, Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend and Theo Walcott, missed out due, at least in part, to injury.
However, the team I chose no longer looks so clever, with five of my starting 11 missing out on the squad, including the three injured players mentioned above.
Seems a re-think is needed.
Obviously, I’d still have Joe Hart in goal, while the centre-back pairing of Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill pretty much picks itself.
My full-backs both need to change though. In the absence of Cole, Baines must be the left-back, while right-back is England’s weakest area. I don’t really rate Glen Johnson and would probably go for Phil Jones, who is much better defensively, but I suspect it will be the Liverpool man who gets the nod from Hodgson.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation, I did have Carrick alongside Steven Gerrard in front of the defence. That needs to change, but who comes in would depend on the opposition.
Against Italy and Uruguay, I would go for the more solid James Milner, but for the game against Costa Rica, which England are likely to need to win, I would favour Jack Wilshere, assuming he is fit enough.
Further forward, I still believe that Hodgson needs to find space in his side for both Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge. I’d have Rooney just behind the Liverpool striker, with the width provided by Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana.
What I do not really want to see is Milner in a wide position. He has impressed me this season but lacks the pace to have an impact out wide.
A tough summer to be a Southampton fan
Sticking with football, it could be a difficult summer for Southampton fans.
Having just seen the club achieve its highest-ever finishing position in the Premier League, they could lose their manager and two star players in the coming months.
I’m not sure you could blame any of them for moving on. Shaw and Lallana are top players who deserve the chance to test themselves in the Champions League and challenge for top honours, something that is very unlikely to happen for them at St Mary’s.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino probably has to go this summer for the sake of his career. It would be almost impossible for him to top what he achieved with Saints this season, so he must move on now, while his stock is still rising.
Congratulations to Basingstoke Town
Finally, I would like to go on record to congratulate the players, staff and everyone else involved with Basingstoke Town following their Hampshire Senior Cup final success on Monday.
It was an excellent game, with more than its fair share of drama, but the better team won. Town were excellent all night, playing the sort of free-flowing passing football that Jason Bristow has been trying to achieve all season.
If only they could have produced displays like that more consistently during the league campaign.
He has been excellent since joining in March, scoring eight goals in nine games, and getting him to sign so early is a real coup. There must have been a lot of interest in him and I expected it to be something of a saga over the summer as he waited to see what offers came in.
He must have really enjoyed his short time at the Camrose to sign so early, and credit has to go to Bristow for that.