Roy Hodgson admits Raheem Sterling is in his World Cup calculations

Roy Hodgson is confident he has found a replacement for the injured Theo Walcott after Raheem Sterling’s resurgent displays for Liverpoollook set to secure the teenage winger a place in England’s World Cupfinals squad.

If form and fitness are maintained the 19-year-old will be included in a squad which will be swollen to at least 30 names for next month’s friendly against Denmark, having been assessed regularly by Hodgson and his assistant, Ray Lewington, this season. Sterling is even forging ahead of the Tottenham Hotspur winger Andros Townsend in the reckoning, given the latter has been relatively under-used by his club since illuminating England’s final qualifiers for the tournament in the autumn.

Hodgson believes he has an abundance of options on the flanks for Brazil, with Manchester United’s Wilfried Zaha back in contention following his loan move to Cardiff City and the Sunderland winger Adam Johnson also in the reckoning. Yet it is the wide-eyed enthusiasm and fearless approach of Sterling, who has flourished under Brendan Rodgers in Liverpool’s title challenge, that have caught his eye.

“It’s re-emergence in a way,” said Hodgson, who had given Sterling his Liverpool debut as a 15-year-old in a friendly against Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2010, and a first cap against Sweden two years later. “He was doing fantastically well and then he lost his place for a while. He almost disappeared off the scene and wasn’t on the radar, but I remember being very impressed with him in the under-21 game I oversaw [when the winger scored in a 6-0 win over Scotland in August 2013]. He still hadn’t really burst back into the Liverpool team back then but now he’s back in the side his form seems to be going up and up.

“People like him emerging, and doing as well as he is in a top team, just puts a lot of pressure on everybody else because, if you can do at it the top of the table with Liverpool, then you can do it in an England shirt as well. We’ve lost Theo, who’s been pretty much a regular, so it’s good to have Raheem, and there are others. The under-21 team is awash. You’ve got Zaha back in the frame again because he’s playing football at Cardiff after his time out; Nathan Redmond is back at Norwich doing very well; [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Lennon still there; and Adam Johnson is another. We’re not short of candidates.”

Hodgson conceded he could not include all those name-checked in his squad for Brazil but will balance his requirements with those of Gareth Southgate, whose under-21s are playing in the Toulon tournament at the end of May. However, the senior manager will use the friendly against Denmark on 5 March as an opportunity to scrutinise the credentials of candidates. “I want to use this friendly as a forerunner to Brazil,” he said. “I want to get minds focused not just on the Denmark match but on the task ahead, and get them thinking about their responsibilities as players for the rest of the season.”

The Southampton left-back, Luke Shaw, will be included in the party and is likely to gain his first full cap, while Hodgson has also been impressed with the progress made by Liverpool’s John Flanagan on the opposite flank. Lewington was impressed with the contingent of Liverpool players – including Jordan Henderson, Daniel Sturridge and the captain, Steven Gerrard – in the midweek win over Fulham.

Posted by on Feb 16 2014. Filed under Featured, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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