England hopefuls aim to pass Denmark audition

04 March 2014 01:17

When England face Denmark in a friendly at Wembley on Wednesday, several of Roy Hodgson's squad will have a point to prove as they try to book their seats on the plane to Brazil for the World Cup.

Hodgson's leading stars, the likes of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, are certain to feature when England kick off their campaign against Italy on June 14, but many other spots in the team are still up for grabs.

With just a handful of friendlies left before Hodgson names his final squad, AFP takes a look at five players with the most to gain against Denmark:

Ashley Cole

The 33-year-old left-back has a wealth of experience at the highest level, but he has fallen out of favour with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and his lack of playing time is in danger of costing him his World Cup berth as well.

Cole, capped 106 times, has made only 12 league starts this season and the steady consistency of Everton's Leighton Baines has made him a viable alternative for Hodgson.

To make matters worse for Cole, even a place in the squad can't be taken for granted as emerging Southampton teenager Luke Shaw, who idolised the Chelsea player as a child, has been called up for the Denmark game.

Adam Lallana

The Southampton captain needs a dynamic display to catch Hodgson's eye after two rather tame performances in his first two England appearances against Chile and Germany.

Lallana's impressive technique and neat passing style make him an ideal candidate for selection as Hodgson tries to make England a more progressive team.

But the 25-year-old has yet to play in the Champions League and has less than two full seasons of Premier League experience and that lack of world-class pedigree has been noticable during a nervous start to his England career.

Raheem Sterling

The teenage Liverpool winger has a golden opportunity to snatch a place in the squad after Theo Walcott was ruled out for the rest of the season.

After bursting onto the scene with some scintillating performances for Liverpool early last season, the pacey 19-year-old seemed to have taken a step back amid concerns about his attitude, but a more mature approach has convinced Brendan Rodgers he has a part to play in the club's title challenge.

Sterling made his England debut against Sweden in November 2012 and a strong showing in his second appearance on Wednesday could persuade Hodgson to make him his World Cup wildcard selection.

Tom Cleverley

The Manchester United midfielder has become a regular in the England squad, winning 13 caps since earning his first call-up from Fabio Capello in 2011, but his spluttering form this season could shatter his World Cup dreams.

After looking to have a bright future for club and country, Cleverley has been unkindly ridiculed as being out of his depth in the big-time following a series of underwhelming displays for United.

The poor form of David Moyes' side hasn't helped Cleverley's cause, but Hodgson may still be willing to overlook the 24-year-old's troubles if he can shine against the Danes.

Fraser Forster

The Celtic goalkeeper is battling with Ben Foster and John Ruddy to secure a spot as back-up to England's number one Joe Hart

Forster did nothing to harm his cause in his debut against Chile earlier this season and he has been virtually unbeatable for Celtic this term.

He set a new Scottish top flight record for clean sheets, going without conceding a goal for 13 games to break Bobby Clark's 43-year-old record, and is likely to get another chance to prove his international credentials on Wednesday.

Source: AFP