Squad competition pleases Gerrard

04 March 2014 09:16

Roy Hodgson was full of cold as he met the media on Tuesday but captain Steven Gerrard had no sympathy as he challenged the squad to give the England manager a selection headache lasting all the way to the World Cup.

A friendly at home to Denmark on Wednesday night will be the last chance for a player to make his mark on the international stage before Hodgson names his 23-man squad.

With 30 players being called up for the game against the Danes, it is clear Hodgson is still undecided on the exact make-up of his squad and Gerrard said now is the time for individuals to give their final push for a place on the plane to Brazil.

"It is time to start getting excited," Gerrard said with 100 days until the tournament starts.

"It will be here before we know it. It is time as a player you want to continue to impress the manager or grasp your opportunity to impress.

"That is the chance tomorrow, try and win the game and play well personally and for the team and make sure the manager doesn't leave you out the 23."

For Hodgson it is a chance to have a closer look at new-boy Luke Shaw, with Steven Caulker, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling also looking to stake a claim.

The England boss wants a positive performance at Wembley but insists the game itself will not be the sole basis on any decisions.

"I'm looking for them to show that they take it very seriously and are anxious that I shall pick them," said Hodgson.

"I'm not prepared to over exaggerate the importance, I'm not going to suddenly pick someone I wouldn't have picked because he scores a goal against Denmark.

"On the same basis I'm not going to leave anyone out who really and truly I haven't thinking is a key member of our team because he has a poor game tomorrow."

The squad for Denmark contains a number of players who are not currently considered automatic first-choice selections for their clubs.

Chelsea pair Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard are spending more time on the bench while Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley are not guaranteed to start for Manchester United.

Hodgson admits it is an issue he has been dealing with since he first took charge but refused to rule anyone out of a World Cup berth as a result.

"There is s a trail of thought that the players who do play every week will by piling up the games," he said.

"In my whole time with the national team I have always had to come to terms with the fact that, because especially our young players, play at top clubs they don't make their way into the starting line-up.

"I haven't had a hard and fast rule, I have never said I wont choose a player because he hasn't got a place in his club team at the moment, I have tried to choose players on their qualities and what they can do for us.

"Of the 29 there are a few who aren't playing regularly but I don't think they feel disadvantaged by that."

With Shaw called up as a third left-back in the squad, Cole's position has been brought under particularly close scrutiny but Hodgson will not talk to Blues' boss Jose Mourinho about his lack of game-time.

He said: "It would be wrong to do that.

"At the moment Jose has a job to do at Chelsea and has to pick the best XI from his squad of players, unfortunately for Ashley he is behind (Cesar) Azpilicueta but that doesn't mean that will be the case between now and the end of the season.

"If he doesn't get back in the team it is not going to change my opinion on Ashley Cole. I know what he can do, 106 caps for England says everything it would quite simply be a choice at the end."

There are no such travails for the Liverpool contingent in Hodgson's squad with Gerrard joined by Anfield team-mates Glen Johnson, Jordan Henderson, Sterling and Daniel Sturridge.

The quintet are enjoying a great spell at Liverpool and have helped lift the club to second in the Barclays Premier League.

Gerrard is hopeful his club mates can bring a similar level of form to the international scene: "I think we have got five in the squad and everyone is in good form and feeling very confident," he said.

"If everyone is selected hopefully they can bring their performances tomorrow night. There is a great feeling back at Liverpool. We are happy with where we are in the table.

"You have got to give credit to (Liverpool boss) Brendan Rodgers for giving the British lads a chance - if you are good enough he plays you.

"He is not scared. He has been paid back by them with top-class performances and that is what the manager has seen and it is why they are here."

Source: PA