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As this glorious World Cup continues, football fans worldwide are constantly enthralled by the magic of football.

For the past two-and-a-half weeks we have been treated to great goals, games and drama.

How England’s young brigade can prosperIn short, the beautiful game at its most beautiful. Sadly, for anyone English, interest in their national team ended after two games.

Therefore, while some of the games greats contemplate winning the greatest trophy of all, England’s players are merely thinking about possible holiday destinations. But, despite a premature exit at Brazil 2014, is there still cause for optimism? In my opinion, yes.

For me it was great that the Football Association came out immediately and backed Roy Hodgson as attention turns towards Euro 2016 qualification. But while it is good that he is being given time, he needs to remain brave.

Simply, he needs to have faith in the youngsters that could be the cornerstone of the national side for years. If he reverts to his pre-Euro 2012 safety first approach, England will continually flatter to deceive on the big stage.

However, if he sticks with the attacking philosophy he took to South America then, despite returning home with only one point, there is hope moving forward. But being brave is not just about how he sets up his side on the pitch. It is also about how he approaches players coming towards the end of their international careers.

Therefore, he needs to thank the likes of Ben Foster (31), Glen Johnson (29), Phil Jagielka (31), Steven Gerrard (34), Frank Lampard (36) and Rickie Lambert (32) for their service, but replace them with more youthful players. And there are good quality youngsters available, despite constant talk that the foreigners in the Premier League are not giving home grown talent a chance.

If they are good enough they will play, a fact proven by the recent emergence of Jon Flanagan, John Stones, Ross Barkley, Andros Townsend and Raheem Sterling.

All the aforementioned players broke into both their domestic sides, all of whom are in the top six in the league, and also the national team since the beginning of the last domestic campaign.

Matt Boosey’s preferred England squad

Matt Boosey’s preferred England squad

So just who are the future options?

In goal, Joe Hart (27) is the undisputed number one and picks himself. As back-up I would plump for Fraser Forster (26) and Jack Butland (21), both at a good age for goalkeepers with regards to experience and ability to still improve.

Defensively it is tougher, as England have struggled for top class players in this area for a while, especially at right-back and centre-back.

My two right-backs would be Tottenham’s Kyle Walker (24) and Jon Flanagan (21) of Liverpool. Yes, they may not be the finished article, but both are at an age where they can still learn and develop.

Centrally I would make Gary Cahill (28) captain. He has come on brilliantly at Chelsea, benefitting from playing regularly in the biggest club games alongside John Terry.

Next to him I would make it a straight battle between Steven Caulker (22), Phil Jones (22) and John Stones (20) – who reminds me of a young Rio Ferdinand. At left-back we have to go with the best two, and perhaps only real options. Leighton Baines (29) and Luke Shaw (18).

In central midfield Jordan Henderson (24) has learnt the game alongside Steven Gerrard, and he deserves his chance. Next to him it is feasible to play another deep-lying midfielder – Jack Wilshere (22) – or England could play a central three. Ross Barkley (20) needs to be allowed to play his natural game without a fear of failure. He will make mistakes, but his ability makes him the closest thing to Paul Gascoigne this country has seen in years. Another option – given time – could be young James Ward-Prowse (19) of Southampton, who benefitted from regular minutes under Mauricio Pochettino. Let’s hope he continues to flourish with Ronald Koeman in charge.

Attacking wise there are plenty of options

Raheem Sterling (19), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20), Andros Townsend (22), Theo Walcott (25) and Adam Lallana (26) are all players that can occupy any of the roles just off the striker, and they all have the ability to excite fans.

Of course if chances are being created then they need to be converted. Hodgson has generally played strikers out wide – Danny Welbeck is a prime example – who in truth would prefer to play centrally. My thinking though, play players in their best position. Based on that my front men would be Daniel Sturridge (24), Wayne Rooney (28) and Welbeck (23) himself. Another player – if he comes back strongly from his knee injury – who can come into contention is Jay Rodriguez (24).

I am not saying this collection of players will immediately take the Three Lions to the pinnacle of the world game. Managed correctly though, they can restore the dented pride of a country who deserves a competitive national side.

Over to you Roy.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Matt Boosey, Twitter: @matt3oosey1982
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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