Today, England manager Roy Hodgson announced his 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. A critical point of interest ahead of the announcement was whether Hodgson would be able to obtain the right balance of youth and experience. Now that the squad has been released, it certainly looks as if he has managed to do just that.
The England national team is in a transitional phase right now. The longtime established stars who much were expected of but never delivered have slowly been phased out. Hodgson has been fortunate enough to have some exciting young players who have set the Premier League alight this season, and that has made the process of change that little bit smoother.
But a squad solely full of young vibrant players would be too inexperienced, and the presence of a number of experienced players was crucial in getting the balance of the squad absolutely right. You want the no fear approach of the youngsters but with a tinge of steady heads around them for guidance. Hodgson seems to have gotten both.
Players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney, James Milner and Glen Johnson all have good experience at international level. That experience is countenanced by young players who are not only exciting, but have none of the fear that has so often seemed to cripple England teams of the past. Players like Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all exciting players who are not only for the future, but for the present too.
Any one of those names could emerge as a star after this World Cup and that, of course, will be the hope of both the manager and the England fans. To create a good, balanced squad, though, you need experienced players who are still at the required level, and you need young players who are already at the required level.
The England team had grown stale in recent tournaments, but now, England have some young hopefuls to look to and it gives the team, and the squad, the freshness and the new lease on life that was overdue at this point. That youth, combined with the leadership and experience of some already established players, gives England a squad which has the right balance ahead of the World Cup in Brazil.