Who's Definitely On The Plane To Brazil?

Paul Gilham

Reading the Sunday morning Newspapers, I think it's safe to say that squad projection has already begun. So who's definitely on the plane to Brazil?

Anything can happen in football, even the definitely are not all that definite. A long term injury or suspension could strike at any moment. However lets take that out the equation and project based purely on ability and production. 23 players will be boarding the plane in June to represent England at the 2014 World Cup, there are sure to be some surprises along the way, but there are players that are guaranteed a spot in Brazil already.

Roy Hodgson admitted that he took the wrong squad to the finals held in the USA in 1994 while manager of Switzerland. You would be forgiven for exerting a sigh and eye roll at this point, the England manager admitting that he made the wrong choices just moths before he has to make that exact choice again. Not all 23 players will play, so getting the right mix of good guys and young guns needing tournament experience is crucial to the success in 2014 and beyond.

Here are my thoughts on the players that I believe have already all but booked their place on the plane.

Joe Hart - Goalkeeper, Manchester City (37 Caps)

Joe Hart went through a rough-patch earlier this season, but he is undoubtedly a top-class keeper. He's Roy Hodgson's guy and it would take something pretty serious to keep him off the plane to Brazil. He looked much more assured against Montenegro and Poland, and he is still one of the better shot-stoppers in the Premier League. If he is fit, I see no reason why Hodgson would drop him ahead of the World Cup in Brazil. No howlers like Robert Green in South Africa please Joe.

Ashley Cole - Defender, Chelsea (105 caps, 0 goals)

Although I don't think he should start for England, I do think he is a great player to have. Still one of the best defensive left backs in the world, I can't think of a better player to cover Baines who in my opinion has a better rounded game. Ashley will be 33 by the time the tournament comes around next June, but he still has enough pace and his positioning is top class.

Leighton Baines - Defender, Everton (21 caps, 1 goal)

Leighton Baines for my money is the best left back in the premier league. That means his all around game is better than Ashley Cole's. With Cole 4 years Baines senior, there is an opportunity to really pass the reigns here. We saw against Poland and Montenegro just how good Baines was and how valuable his crossing is from the left hand side. Roy Hodgson would be mad not to take Leighton with him when the plane leaves for Brazil next summer.

Kyle Walker, Defender, Tottenham (9 caps, 0 goals)

One thing that England can take from both Euro 2012 and the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 is you need pace. England have looked one of the slowest teams for around 20 years now. Finally he has some injection of pace and it comes in the form of Walker, who's not only a very good defender, but a good attacking option down the right. He covers a lot of ground, has a non-stop motor and will give it his all. We need players like this, and that's why I think he's already on the plane.

Gary Cahill - Defender, Chelsea (21 caps, 2 goals)

Cahill is really starting to blossom into a great overall defender. He seems to be first choice with Roy at the moment and with John Terry retired from international football, he is probably the best centre back England have at the moment. He has started to build a strong partnership with Phil Jagielka, and I fully expect them both to start next year in Brazil. Starting both of them against Germany and Chile will only strengthen the bond that they have.

Phil Jagielka, Defender, Everton, (23 caps, 1 goal)

I think this is the England partnership for the next 4 years or so, and rightfully so. England conceeded just four goals in their 10 games during qualification and Phil played a big part in that. He offers a little more pace at the back, and as mentioned above he is starting to develop a good solid relationship at the back with Cahill. Going into a World Cup you want to be settled at the back, which is why I think Jagielka's place in the team is pretty safe.

Steven Gerrard, Midfielder, Liverpool, (107 caps, 21 goals)

The captain. Although he will be 34 when the tournament comes around, he really is a player who makes things work for England. He does his work in the engine room, and his goal against Poland just shows how important he is to England. This will be his final tournament, but as long as you play the right team around him, he can be a very important player to have on the pitch, especially if you are starting to bring on the youth.

Wayne Rooney, Striker, Manchester United (86 caps, 38 goals)

Wayne Rooney is playing some of his best football in a decade right now and that's saying something. It seems as though Wayne has been around for 20 years, but he'll be just 28 when the tournament comes around next summer. Playing as the #10 he can influence the game but get among the goals. We can only hope that his current form translates to the World Cup stage, a platform where he hasn't show his best in the past.

Almost there

The above players are the ones that I think can safely start locating their passport. However there are plenty of others who should probably start to consider it. Those being Theo Walcott, Michael Carrick, James Milner, Andros Townsend, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Fraser Forster, John Ruddy and Glen Johnson.

Dark Horses

If all those players do end up going, that makes 18. Which means there are five spots up for grabs. Now these five will probably be chosen from the following list. Jermain Defoe, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ross Barkley, Ravel Morrison, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rickie Lambert, Raheem Sterling, Joleon Lescott, Kieran Gibbs, Steven Caulker, Saido Berahino, Nathan Redmond.

A lot can change between now and the Spring/Summer of 2014. However as we stand, that's how I see this squad playing out. A lot of proven talent, mixed in with energetic youth. A lot to like about this squad.

Who would you take and who would you leave behind?

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