Roy Hodgson has announced a rather inexperienced squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
Realistically England must win both matches to stand any chance of finishing top of the group and qualifying automatically for the World Cup, avoiding a playoff. (Table below)
Any of the top 4 teams have a chance to finish top 2 which will ensure a nervy few fixtures before the group is out.
As for the squad, 19 year old Ross Barkley receives his first call up along with 22 year old Andros Townsend, who have shown signs of promise in the early season, along with 18 year old Raheem Sterling.
It must be asked however, is it too soon? Especially for Barkley. Townsend has a tad more experience, having impressed whilst on loan at QPR during the second half of the season. Barkley however has made just 15 Premier League appearances, mainly from the subs bench and although scoring his first Premier League goal against Norwich, are there better alternatives?
The experienced duo of Gareth Barry and Scott Parker are not included, along with Manchester City midfielder Jack Rodwell. Perhaps a better alternative would be Jordan Henderson, who has found his form for Liverpool in recent times and has more experience at all levels. Jonjo Shelvey, Leon Osman and Jake Livermore are other midfielders to have received caps under Hodgson.
Townsend is called up ahead of the likes of Spurs team mate Aaron Lennon, Stuart Downing and Adam Johnson, all of whom have greater experience. However with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain injured, I agree with the inclusion of Townsend.
Rickie Lambert is again called up after scoring on his debut against Scotland. With Andy Carroll still injured, Lambert provides a different option up top for Hodgson.
At the back there is no place for Michael Dawson or Joleon Lescott, who have both been playing for their respective clubs this season. Instead Phil Jones, who has been playing at right back, and Chris Smalling, who is yet the feature, have been selected. Along with Phil Jagielka. For me I would have Lescott and Dawson ahead of Smalling, who needs more game time, and Jagielka.
Despite a number of recent howlers, Joe Hart will keep his place, rightly or wrongly, ahead of John Ruddy. Fraser Forster has been called up after the injury to Ben Foster. Hart is a guaranteed starter for England and City so leaving him out would give him a gentle reminder that he needs to improve after mistakes against Scotland and Cardiff in recent weeks to follow up a poor season last time around.
England squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere
Strikers: Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young