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England to shine through to Brazil finals

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With the return of Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney in attack and the emergence of Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard as a central midfield partnership of real quality, there is every reason to believe that England will be on the plane to Brazil come next summer.

To achieve that dream ticket (unless it’s British Airways), England will probably have to beat Montenegro and Poland, as the Ukraine may well win their last two matches.

If Ukraine falter, then a win against Montenegro and a draw with Poland shall be required.

Although I personally slated the system that Roy Hodgson has been using of late, it is unlikely to matter as England should have far too much firepower should Sturridge and Rooney both start, as I am sure that they will.

Sturridge is the Premier League’s top goalscorer with six goals already this season and Rooney has been the sole outstanding player for an otherwise ordinary Manchester United.

I have been an admirer of Sturridge from the moment Chelsea loaned him out to Bolton Wanderers two seasons ago. Playing for a mediocre Bolton side with precious little creativity in midfield, Sturridge scored eight goals in 12 games.

Moreover, he showed genuine pace, an instinctive touch, clinical finishing and most satisfyingly was prepared to take exciting risks. Sturridge has not lost any of those aforementioned attributes.

Rooney, of course, needs little introduction and is even beginning to look a bit of a dead ball specialist of late despite wearing some unusual headgear.

So far the Rooney-Sturridge partnership has played a total of 32 minutes together for England as the two have rarely been fit simultaneously and I believe that, injury permitting, we are on the verge of witnessing the best England strike force since Shearer and Sheringham.

That of course rather depends upon how the pair interact on the field.

They could fit perfectly. Sturridge can play left or right and come inside with Rooney in the centre, or play as an out-an-out striker with Rooney in the hole. The two of them should switch from either scenario during a match if correctly instructed.

However, the loss of both Theo Walcott and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain through injury is one of three minus points for England as there will be a lack of pace on both flanks. I am therefore hoping that Hodgson has the foresight and courage to select Andros Townsend ahead of James Milner.

Milner is industrious and will cover for his full back whilst England defend. However, Townsend will give you that and more – he is more dynamic going forward (unlike Milner), can shoot from distance (unlike Milner) and is much faster than . . . you know who. Sorry, James.

The second minus point is the defence. England are still vulnerable to a counter attack at pace and their organisation at corners and free kicks is still an issue.

The third minus point is the rigidity of the 4-4-2 that Hodgson favours. However, on home soil and probably attacking teams with 10 men behind the ball, the formation will be less significant than, say, playing Germany in the semi-finals of the World Cup on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at the Estadio Mineirao in the beautiful city of Belo Horizonte. Just a thought.

My England starting line-up (selected from the current squad): Hart, Walker, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Gerrard, Wilshere, Townsend, Welbeck, Rooney, Sturridge

Predictions:
England 1 Montenegro 0
England 2 Poland 1

Bob Morton has a first-class degree in Media and is the only person in history to win the Daily Mirror’s ‘You The Manager’ World Cup and Premier League Manager of the Month prizes back to back.

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