England – Denmark (Friendly Match)
The World Cup is near, you can almost taste it. For England this will be the first of four international friendlies before travelling to South America, the ultimate chance for Roy Hodgson to exhaust his experimentations. For the game against the Danes the manager selected a blend of experienced and young talent. On May 13th Hodgson is announcing the list of selected few that will join him in Brazil, he has some tough decisions to make. Luke Shaw got his first call, Raheem Sterling a recall, one match for both to convince the staff they can fit in and add to the “grown-up’s” national team. Step up, there are still places on the plane for grabs.
Five England players missed the starting training on Monday. Kyle Walker, Andros Townsend, Adam Lallana, Steven Caulker and John Ruddy underwent recovery work indoors. Right after the tie at White Hart Lane, Spurs manager Tim Sherwood ruled out Walker saying he would not be fit to play for England on Wednesday. Roy Hodgson’s 30 men selection provides a wide range of options, the one area he will be short is at the back due to Jagielka’s, Jones’ and now Walker’s absence through injury. That’s why Chris Smalling is expect to partner up with Gary Cahill at centre-back.
Hodgson hinted he may rest some of the established players, the likes of Gerrard, Joe Hart or Wayne Rooney to have the opportunity of testing the youngsters.
Southampton’s left-back Luke Shaw got a well-deserved call to the senior squad, his performances for the Saints have been quite impressive. It poses an issue, though. Three players (maybe four) for two openings in that position – Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole, young Luke and injured Kieran Gibbs. The way the first three are playing at the moment in their respective clubs – forget Gibbs for now since he is sidelined – the ones travelling to Brazil would be Baines and Shaw. Cole hardly played for Chelsea. If the 18-year-old, on his first call, manages to impress Hodgson on Wednesday Ashley Cole’s expectations of a final World Cup could be at risk. At 33 he may be the first experienced England player to miss the bus, I mean, the flight.
Frank Lampard can find himself in the same jam, England manager admitted he might have to leave some veterans behind. Although reports of Lampard’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. But it is a logical assumption that between the two senior midfielders captain Steven Gerrard will take precedent.
Strangely enough Tom Cleverly continues to be a Hodgson’s favourite, despite his lousy form at Man United. In his defence, there is not one in form man in Manchester United these days, apart maybe from Januzaj that has now disappeared from the line-up. Raheem Sterling will also have the opportunity to prove he can transfer the club form and drive to the international stage. Having team-mate Daniel Sturridge alongside could ease in the transition. It’s always a smart move to take advantage of the successful partnerships forged at club level.
Probable line-up: Forster – Johnson, Cahill, Smalling, Shaw – Gerrard, Carrick – Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling, Lallana – Sturridge.
Morten Olsen, former Dane national team captain in the 80′, is in charge since 2000. He is a men that believes in attacking football and has strong feelings against the 4-4-2 formation. Under him Denmark qualified for the Euro 2004 and the 2002 and 2010 World Cups. In 2002, in Korea-Japan, it was England that forced them out of the last 16. The Danish won’t be travelling to Brazil in the summer. They’ve finish second in their group, behind Italy, but didn’t even make it to the play-offs. With 4W/ 4D/ 2L they were the worst of the nine runners-up.
Morten Olsen is likely to use this transition period friendly as a chance to introduce new players into the squad. Premier League’s Daniel Agger, William Kvist and Niklas Bendtner are expected to feature. Spurs midfielder Christian Eriksen hurt his back and was ruled out for this one.
Probable line-up: Andersen – Jacobsen, Bjelland, Agger, Kristensen – Poulsen, Kvist, Zimling – Kahlenberg, Bendtner, Krohn-Dehli.
I dare say in this England-Denmark friendly will be exciting to see how the wave of young talent is pushing through the ranks. It speaks of the work being done in the backstage. Southampton’s Academy supplies a quartet (defender, wingers, forward), four men that have benefited from Mauricio Pochettino’s guidance in the first team. Similar to the influence Brendan Rodgers is having in Sterling and Sturridge, for instance.