Barkley and Townsend retain places in 23-man England squad
Roy Hodgson has played it with a pretty straight bat, but exciting youngsters Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend could feature in crunch qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland after retaining their places in the 23-man England squad.
The latest England squad was never going to include a raft of new faces; such is the magnitude of the two upcoming World Cup qualification games.
The Three Lions sit just a point ahead of their next opponents Montenegro and Ukraine, while their last Group H adversaries Poland are only three points further back.
Despite the tightness of the group, the fact both of England’s remaining ties will be played at Wembley, means Hodgson’s troops are still regarded as the overwhelming favourites to win Group H by Ladbrokes, at 2/7.
There are no huge surprises in the 23-man selection, though it’s good to see two of the Premier League’s brightest young performers in Barkley and Townsend keep their spots.
With no Theo Walcott the likelihood of seeing Townsend getting some minutes are increased, after some dazzling displays on Tottenham’s right flank, while Barkley’s form is arguably better than that of Jack Wilshere at present, though the Evertonian is unlikely to be picked ahead of the Arsenal man.
Against Montenegro – where England are odds-on at 1/3 – much may depend on what formation Hodgson deploys as to who gets the nod in those attacking positions.
Considering Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge should both be fit, the early rumour is that the England boss could be tempted into playing 4-3-3 with Danny Welbeck joining the aforementioned pair up front.
It’s likely that Hodgson will stick with his defensive pairing of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka at the back, with Ashley Cole and Kyle Walker at full-backs, though Leighton Baines is knocking on the door.
Meanwhile, Hodgson has already publicly stated that Joe Hart will retain his number one status, despite a blunder-filled beginning to the season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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The squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck