There’s no major surprises in the goalkeeping department, but I opted for Butland over Ruddy because he has a chance to challenge Hart in the future, and the experience will be useful. At the back, I left out Cashley; I’m a massive fan of Cole but there’s no point in taking him to sit on the bench when Shaw is not far behind, so I’ve gone with the Saints teenager as Baines’ understudy. I’ve also omitted Johnson – a tough call but there’s no need for two right backs because Phil Jones offers adequate cover. Caulker is in over Smalling because I think the Cardiff man is a better player (and a goal threat). Sorry Chris!
In midfield, I’ve gone for Barry over Carrick. He’s been better this season, takes a good penalty and can also deliver a set-piece, which gives him the edge over the Geordie. There’s no place for Lampard (see my Ashley Cole reasoning) and I really like Adam Lallana – he looks more comfortable and composed on the ball than anyone else in the squad, barring perhaps Gerrard. Henderson gets the nod over Milner as the reliable, boring and workmanlike CM, mainly because his club form is so good. Ross Barkley and the Ox will be a big part of our 2016/2018 campaigns and arguably deserve to make the 23 anyway.
I really wanted to go for Andy Carroll, as I rate him, but he doesn’t look fully fit yet and Rickie Lambert deserves a chance; his form for Saints has been brilliant and his rise through the leagues is inspirational. Defoe misses out (MLS is village) and so does Rodriguez even though he’s scored so many goals this season; I just feel that Townsend is more likely to change a game from the bench with his pace and direct running. There you have it; we’re going to win the World Cup.