By Daniel Taylor
John Terry will be among the players Roy Hodgson leaves out when the England manager begins his preparations for the 2014 World Cup by selecting an experimental and largely inexperienced squad for next week’s friendly against Italy.
Terry will be joined by Ashley Cole, Glen Johnson and Joleon Lescott among the notable absentees when Hodgson announces his squadon Friday to face the team that knocked out England in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
Frank Lampard’s inclusion for the game in Berne next Wednesday, after missing out on the tournament because of injury, confirms that it will not be an entirely youthful squad, but Hodgson wants to use the match to have a look at some new players rather than relying on the old guard.
There are likely to be call-ups for Tom Cleverley, Ryan Bertrand and Daniel Sturridge, despite their involvement in Great Britain’s Olympics squad, while Micah Richards will get a clear indication of how Hodgson views him after declining to go on the standby list for the summer tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Hodgson’s options in defence are depleted because Chris Smalling is injured whereas Phil Jones has returned from Manchester United’s pre-season trip to Norway to undergo tests on a back problem. Richards is eager to return to the international scene but might be unavailable anyway because of an ankle injury he suffered during Team GB’s game against South Korea at the weekend. He has not been able to train since and is almost certainly out of the Community Shield against Chelsea on Sunday.
Hodgson, who has also been considering leaving out Stewart Downing, is trying to strike a balance between having a new-look team, bringing in people who are likely to be involved in 2014, while retaining a core of more experienced players considering the strength of the opposition and important games in the next two months.
England begin their World Cup qualifying programme against Moldova and Ukraine in September, with San Marino and Poland to come in October, so there is a reluctance on his part to go to even greater lengths of experimentation. The game, to be staged at the Stade de Suisse, is taking place on a notoriously controversial date in the international football calendar and Hodgson, with his assistant Ray Lewington, has contacted several Premier League managers over the last two weeks to discuss what is now an annual problem.
Hodgson is aware from his own experiences about the frustrations for a Premier League manager to lose key players so close to the start of a new season, but he is also mindful that all but one of England’s rivals when it comes to reaching the next World Cup have midweek games to start planning for the first round of qualifying matches.