With the World Cup just over three months away, Willie Duncan looks at which players will be sweating on whether they have done enough to make Roy Hodgson's squad for Brazil
While a number of top players such as Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart and Steven Gerrard are assured of their place in Hodgson’s squad – barring injury, of course - for many the summer provides much more uncertainty.
Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster has kept 12 clean sheets in his last 13 Scottish Premiership matches for Neil Lennon’s side and, having made his England debut in November’s friendly defeat against Chile, the 25-year-old will harbour high hopes of being on the plane to Brazil.
|England World Cup 2014 Squad
|Odds from William Hill
Another who impressed for the Three Lions at the end of 2013 was Andros Townsend. The Spurs winger seemed certain to be part of Roy Hodgson’s plans after a Man of the Match winning performance – and goal – against Montenegro in October.
Townsend, though, has been hampered by injury since then and has seen his place threatened by a number of in-form wingers such as Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Johnson.
Townsend is returning to fitness at the right time to stake a strong claim for a place in Hodgson’s squad but the 2/5 (1.40) quote for the 22-year-old to take his place in Brazil is too skinny given the recent form of Sterling and Johnson in particular, despite Johnson's bizarre omission from the most recent England squad.
The odds compilers believe, though, that Townsend’s former Spurs team-mate, Jermain Defoe – who has recently joined Toronto FC – may fall out of Hodgson’s plans for World Cup 2014 after leaving England’s top flight for the Major Soccer League.
Defoe can be backed at 9/4 (3.25) with William Hill to make the final cut for Hodgson’s side this summer while there may value in snapping up the 6/4 (2.50) quote from the same firm for Southampton striker Rickie Lambert to take a place on the plane to Brazil.
With a couple of crucial months of the season remaining, there are plenty of opportunities for a number of players to make the transition from “probable” to “definite” as Hodgson formulates his final plan for Brazil and Lambert, who has eight goals to his name in the Premier League this season could represent a solid opportunity at odds against quotes.
|Rickie Lambert at 6/4 (2.50) 3pts with William Hill
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Al Hain-Cole is an experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.