FIFA World Cup: Five England Players With a Point To Prove
England's friendly against Peru at Wembley Stadium on Friday gives manager Roy Hodgson the chance to run the rule over the candidates for a starting place at the World Cup. Here are five England footballers with something to prove.
England's midfielder Ross Barkley is spraid water by a staff member during a training session. © AFP
Described as the "best young English talent I've seen" by his Everton manager Roberto Martinez after a dynamic display capped by a sublime goal against Manchester City recently, the 20-year-old is Hodgson's World Cup wildcard and could force his way into the team with some strong friendly displays. With just one full season in the Premier League under his belt and a handful of England caps, Barkley remains something of an unknown quantity at the highest level, but his combination of poise and power makes it easy to see why some predict he could burst onto the international scene in the style of Paul Gascoigne at Italia '90.
The Liverpool winger's displays in training since linking up with the England squad at the end of the season have thrust him firmly into Hodgson's thinking for a starting place. The 19-year-old had already caught the eye with a late burst of form during the domestic campaign and the coaching staff noted his attitude and confidence while at the training camp at Vale do Lobo in Portugal last week. He could operate out wide or at the front of a midfield diamond.
When the Arsenal midfielder was handed the number seven shirt in England's World Cup squad, some pundits took it as a sign he was in line to start in Brazil. But Wilshere, who finally made two substitute appearances at the end of the season after fracturing his foot in a friendly win over Denmark in March, faces stiff competition from Frank Lampard and Jordan Henderson and desperately needs to shine against Peru.
Liverpool striker Sturridge formed a deadly alliance with Luis Suarez in the Premier League this season and now he needs to emulate that partnership with Wayne Rooney in an England shirt. Sturridge netted the winner in England's last friendly against Denmark, but, speaking this week about his likely forward line in Brazil, Hodgson said: "We've not seen a lot of the Rooney-Sturridge partnership because they haven't had a lot of time to play together and now's our chance."
The Everton centre-back was dogged by a hamstring injury in the second half of the season, missing two months before returning for the final two games of the campaign. He has been expected to start alongside Chelsea's Gary Cahill at the heart of England's defence and this fixture give him a chance to prove he is fit enough to nail down his place.