England are going to the World Cup. Despite all the moaning and groaning throughout the qualifying campaign Roy Hodgson has guided us safely to Brazil thanks to a 2-0 win over Poland at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Now attention automatically turns to who Hodgson will pick to travel to South America next summer. Barring injuries or a complete loss of form there are probably already around 15 players guaranteed of their seat on the plane.
That still leaves eight places up for grabs and over the course of the season it will become much clearer who will force their way into contention.
While excelling for your club is a sure fire way to catch the ever wondering eye of Hodgson, standing out for your country at Under-21 level is equally important. Gareth Southgate has been tasked with cultivating the next generation and perhaps one or more of the current squad could force their way into contention.
Here we look at five players hoping they will be packing be bags next summer and heading to Brazil.
Wilfried Zaha - Manchester United
The Manchester United winger has struggled to force his way into contention under David Moyes thus far but his mix of electric pace, outrageous skill and eye for goal mean he can't be ignored for long. With Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young all struggling for form, Zaha will hope he can make the most of his opportunity when it arises. He was in wonderful form for the U21s in the victory over Lithuania, a constant threat down the left flank, a position that has always been a problem for England. Zaha offers trickery and speed, a deadly combination at any level and has already had an experience with the senior set-up.
Carl Jenkinson - Arsenal
The Arsenal defender is beginning to earn regular opportunities under Arsene Wenger this season and could soon challenge Bacary Sagna for a regular berth at right back. He already has experience in the Champions League and his marauding runs down the right flank would certainly work well in unison with Townsend. His challenge comes with Liverpool's Glen Johnson and Tottenham's Kyle Walker currently the preferred options for Hodgson. However, both players are prone to defensive errors and if Jenkinson can enjoy a near error free campaign in a high-flying Arsenal side then he may well force his way ahead of one of the two.
Raheem Sterling - Liverpool
This time last season Sterling was making a huge impact for Liverpool thanks to his directness and willingness to take on defenders. His progress has halted slightly but he is still clearly in Hodgson's plans after being called up from the U21s for the vital final qualifier against Poland. Featuring regularly for Liverpool will be difficult this season as Brendan Rodgers has significantly strengthened but his ability to commit players and draw challenges can be extremely helpful late in games. Should he force his way in for England then Hodgson may well view him as the perfect impact substitute out in Brazil.
Thomas Ince - Blackpool
Despite playing in the second tier of English football for Blackpool, Ince is still viewed as one of the most talented young wingers in the country. The former Liverpool youngster has consistently been linked with the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and even a return to Anfield. Should he move to a Premier League club in January then his chances will be greatly increased, but as long as he continues to score goals in the Championship - he had 18 last season - then he may well be under consideration. Ince is also naturally left footed and would give Hodgson the chance to use width on both flanks should Andros Townsend remain England's preferred option on the right. Another winger full of tricks and with bags of pace, he will be hoping to emulate his father by representing his country in a World Cup
Ravel Morrison - West Ham United
The former Manchester United bad boy has finally cleaned up his act and West Ham United are the ones profiting. Morrison is a hugely talented midfielder who beats players for fun, has a wonderful turn of pace and an eye for goal. His superb solo effort against Tottenham demonstrated his ability to run with the ball, while for the England U21s he scored twice and generally controlled the game from the middle of the park. He is likely to be a mainstay in the West Ham side this season and Sam Allardyce will hope there are many more moments of individual magic. Yet he can also pick a pass and has showed that he is happy to provide, as well as finish chances. England are well stocked with central midfielders but they are all rather one paced and do not possess the explosiveness of Morrison. Keeping him grounded will be a major test but he could just prove to be the surprise wildcard selection.
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