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Hodgson: We can win it with kids

ESPN staff
May 12, 2014 « Van Gaal: I'll make history at United | Rashid's burst takes Yorkshire top »
Roy Hodgson named his England World Cup squad on Monday © Getty Images
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Roy Hodgson insists his youthful England squad can deliver World Cup glory in Brazil.

The England manager has opted for youth in his 23-man World Cup squad with 10 players under the age of 25 included.

A quarter of England's outfield players have less than five caps to their name, with only six players in the entire 23 having featured at a World Cup before, but Hodgson insists Alan Hansen's infamous claim that you can't win anything with kids no longer applies.

England's 23-man World Cup squad

  • Goalkeepers: Forster, Foster, Hart
  • Defenders: Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Johnson, Jones, Shaw, Smalling
  • Midfielders: Barkley, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Lampard, Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling, Wilshere
  • Forwards: Lambert, Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck
  • On standby: Carrick, Carroll, Cleverley, Defoe, Flanagan, Ruddy, Stones
  • Click here for full profiles on all the squad

"I'm not sure that old adage is as true as it was," he said. "This is a 23-man squad there is an awful lot of caps. We shouldn't get hung up on fact that there are youngsters in the squad. I'm not taking anyone purely for the experience.

"If we add the caps up I'd bet we'd be right up there with other teams. Do I believe the squad can win the World Cup? Yes, otherwise what is the point of taking a squad to the World Cup."

Hodgson has left out experienced performers such as Ashley Cole, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe in favour of up-and-coming stars including Luke Shaw, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling for his first World Cup with England.

However he insists he has got the balance right. Hodgson added: "It would not be right to focus on this squad as being young and lacking in experience because we have enough players with experience. Glen Johnson, [Gary] Cahill, [Phil] Jagielka, [Leighton] Baines, [Joe] Hart, [Steven] Gerrard, [Wayne] Rooney - all of these players have plenty of caps between them.

"How do you get experience? You get experience by being given the opportunity. We are aware that in this group, we have lot of players who have not played 50-plus games, but I still think the balance in the group is quite good.

"Everyone is inexperienced until he gets the chance to show he can do the job and the players I have picked have imposed themselves upon me. They have played so well, done so well and been so effective in their club teams that they have imposed themselves and their ability on my thinking."

He faces a daunting task to qualify for the knockout stages in Brazil with Italy first up for England in the sweltering Amazonian heat of Manaus before the clashes with Uruguay and Costa Rica, but Hodgson has backed his squad to shine.

Despite his bullish mood, the manager is not underestimating the task. He said: "If we're going to win, this talented group have to show their talent. They all play the brand we try to play ourselves. They believe in passing, movement and they believe in working hard.

"This tournament means everything to us. We want to do very well in it. We don't lose a lot of games. I've lost just three games as England manager - all in friendlies when I was being experimental.

"I would be very surprised if the Italian and Uruguayan coaches are not looking at us and telling their players that England is a match they can lose."

Everton's 20-year-old midfielder Barkley only made his England debut in the 4-0 World Cup qualifying win over Moldova in September, while he also featured in the friendly defeats to Chile and Germany at Wembley, with Hodgson urging supporters not to place too much pressure on him.

"I would hope that people are realistic in their expectations," Hodgson added. "I wouldn't want to put him under enormous pressure."

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