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England Hopefuls: Sunderland

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Sunderland have somehow escaped relegation. Will any of their stars be heading to Brazil?

Lee Cattermole's passion.
Lee Cattermole's passion.
Clive Mason

Sunderland have had an incredible turnaround of late. Just weeks ago they were rooted to the foot of the table and being 7 points adrift looked doomed to relegation. An incredible upturn in form has seen them pick up a staggering13 points from the last 15 available, including away trips to Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United. Although the media will often portray Safc as a squad full of Di Canio's foreign flops, Sunderland have a decent core of English players, but will any of them make it to Rio?

Being realistic it's highly unlikely that any Sunderland players will get into the squad, but there's some talent in the Sunderland squad. Although I'm a Sunderland fan, my comments are made in mind of the fact that traditionally, no matter how well a player is playing, Sunderland players are rarely called up.

Adam Johnson, Midfielder-26

A good place to start is with a player who arguably has the best chance of making the plane.  Johnson is an odd character, in that when watching him he can often look like a world beater, (as his January and February form showed), but he regularly flatters to deceive.  His stats of 8 goals and 4 assists this season are pretty impressive and with Andros Townsend ruled out with injury he might stand an outside chance. His hopes were no doubt dealt a blow however, when Hodgson left him out of the Denmark friendly squad at a time when he was playing exceptionally well. His form has waned since then, which won't help his chances.

On the plane or on the beach? Sadly, I can't see AJ making the squad. As a wildcard Hodgson could certainly pick worse players, but his form is too inconsistent for him to be guaranteed a spot.

Connor Wickham, Striker-21

Wickham is an interesting case study. He's still a young lad and has impressed both at Championship and Premier League levels this season.  After 5 goals in 3 appearances during April, it's no surprise that he won the Barclay's player of the month award.  He is however, still a touch raw and his overall Premier League record of just 6 goals is not overly encouraging.

On the plane or on the beach? I think Wickham will spend the summer adding a couple of tattoos and topping up his tan on his enormous pecks. Although he's one of the most inform current English strikers, I think this World Cup has come too soon. Still, a player to keep an eye on in the future.

Jack Colback, Midfielder-24

Colback is a really neat midfielder.  He has always been good at holding onto the ball, a stat confirmed by his 89% passing success rate this season.  Keeping hold of the ball would be important in a hot climate, so you never know. Of late, he has also improved at getting forward which is encouraging to see. In truth, he's not going to add much to the England team, although I'm positive that he's a better player than Tom Cleverley and if he played for a top side may have received a cap by now. His total of 3 goals and 2 assists this season is decent.

On the plane or on the beach? On the beach I'm afraid, he won't add anything to the squad and players like Barkley and Lallana look better options.

Lee Cattermole, Midfielder-26

The common perception of Lee Cattermole is one that infuriates me. In my view he is extremely underrated and commonly mistaken for the red cared maniac he was in his youth. In the past couple of seasons he has only received one red card (v Hull City), that in the view of many was harsh and given purely for his reputation.  There also seems to be the common view that because he can tackle, he can't pass. This couldn't be further from the truth. Whilst he only boasts a 82% pass rate for the season, he often attempts more ambitious passes than other players that aid teams on the counter attack.  Cattermole is the type of player who would not care for his stats, but sooner sacrifice them for the team.  He has completed an excellent 63 tackles this season and I can honestly say that he is one of the best tacklers I've ever seen. When it comes to commitment there's nobody quite like him. We often complain after major tournaments that the England players don't care or haven't put in sufficient effort, something that could never be labelled at Lee.

On the plane or on the beach? My pick of the Sunderland players. It's highly unlikely that he'll be picked but I've seen far worse players play for England with far less commitment. Given the conditions as well, he would potentially be handy to chase and harry the opposition. Surprisingly for some, keep the sun cream, but cancel your holidays Lee-ON THE PLANE!

Wes Brown, Defender-34

Sadly Wes is getting on a bit, but is still a class act.  He has been the pick of the Sunderland defence this season and the side has been nothing like as calm without him in it. With the central defensive injuries England currently have they could do worse than take Brown.

On the plane or on the beach? If Wes was a bit younger and not so injury prone I think he'd have a shout, but unfortunately he's too old. Enjoy your holiday Wes.

Craig Gardner, Midfielder-27

The less said, the better here. Without being harsh he's been pretty dreadful this season.  His stats do nothing to change my opinion. His pass success rate is a shocking 72% and he'd be one of the last players I'd take to Brazil.

On the plane or on the beach? He'll probably board a plane this summer, but not to Brazil.

Jordan Pickford, Goalkeeper-20

He's still a young lad and has no chance.

On the plane or on the beach? Budgie smugglers at the ready, it's the beach for Jordan.

So, overall, it doesn't look great for Sunderland's English stars. Plenty will laugh, but I stand by my opinion on Cattermole, his passion is unique!

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