Green Shoots in Evidence, but England's Defence Is a Massive World Cup Worry

Glenn HoddleFeatured ColumnistMarch 6, 2014


Luis Suarez will be licking his lips in anticipation at taking on the current England defence, the real problem area for Roy Hodgson in my view.

The Liverpool striker knows all there is to know about our Premier League defenders, and the central defenders taking him on for England in the World Cup really do concern me.

There was sufficient evidence in the Denmark game to give me plenty of concerns about England at the back.

Some of the chances afforded to Denmark you would have to say that a Suarez or a Robin van Persie would be saying "thanks very much" and the ball would be in the back of the England net and they’d be off celebrating the goal.

Suarez in a Uruguay shirt will be enough to send shivers down the back of the neck of the England defence, and it will certainly give Hodgson sleepless nights if they play like they did against the Danes.

Luke Shaw
Luke ShawAlastair Grant/Associated Press

One big plus for the England defence is that Luke Shaw came into the picture and I have always suspected he is certainly England pedigree. Like Adam Lallana, he plays with his head up, is comfortable in possession and really is an emerging talent at left-back.

While I have concerns about the defence, I do like the emerging talent in midfield, and one of the best young guns didn’t even play, Ross Barkley from Everton, who is a hugely gifted star of the future.

I know Lallana was asked the question whether he would be on the plane and, quite naturally, he was non-committal. But he has done enough to be in the squad and he knows that. In fact, he has done enough to justify a starting place in the team.

He feels comfortable playing for his club, and the same applies to England.

In a World Cup finals you have to be able to master the ball in midfield and we do have some emerging talent capable of doing that. But it really is about giving them the tournament experience and building up to the Euros in two or three years’ time when we will have an exciting team if these youngsters progress.

As for our attack, I can see why Daniel Sturridge is being praised for his tracking back and build-up play which has developed in his game at Anfield. But really you want to see your main strikers inside the box, where they can do most damage.

We saw a little bit of Sturridge in the box, of course for his goal, but we really do need more of an attacking threat in the final third. And again, while it is commendable the amount of work Wayne Rooney gets through in match, we really don’t want him playing left-back!

Sang Tan/Associated Press

We really do need much more of a goal threat. When you look around at some of the far more fancied teams going to the Finals, they have some real talent in abundance in attack.

The issue is simple for me: England will not be able to use this 4-3-3 formation in Brazil when the stakes are high in a proper, competitive World Cup tie.

I still think that Spain can be a threat, but only if they hit top form. A European team has never won in South America and even for Spain it is going to be a big ask.

Belgium are clearly going to be worth watching but, like England, it might be a few years yet before their young players are ready to take the world stage by storm. But again, like England, playing in the World Cup will give them enormous belief.

If England are going to make any impression in Brazil, I’m afraid we still have an awful lot of work to do.

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