What can England expect?

by Mark Godfrey

On Wednesday night, England boss Roy Hodgson takes his experimental squad to face Sweden as they play the inaugural game at the Friends Arena in Stockholm. For all of the inexperienced players and possible debutants hoping to play some part in this friendly fixture it is an opportunity to impress the National manager and for some it will also act as the chance to put themselves in the shop window for potential suitors as we head towards the January transfer window.

The so-called ‘Golden Generation’, which promised so much and delivered so frustratingly little, has all but faded from the picture. Captain Steven Gerrard, likely to win his 100th cap, Ashley Cole (also on the 99 cap mark) and Wayne Rooney are virtually all that remain of the group of players touted to achieve greatness over the last decade. But as that generation dissipates what have England got lined up to fill their boots?

Here are some of the hopefuls and what Wednesday night can expect from them:

Fraser Forster (Celtic)

The Celtic goalkeeper has grown in stature since his move north of the border from Newcastle United and has been turning in consistently good performances for The Hoops. His performance in Celtic’s Champions League victory over the mighty Barcelona has pushed him to further prominence. May get 45 minutes to show why he should be back up to Joe Hart.

Steven Caulker (Tottenham Hotspur)

After an impressive season on loan at Swansea, new Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has utilised Caulker in the heart of Tottenham’s defence at the expense of the more experienced Michael Dawson. He now appears to have leapfrogged his club colleague in the England pecking order too. With Ferdinand and Terry’s departure from the international scene he will be hoping to grow into a suitable long term replacement.

Carl Jenkinson (Arsenal)

Surely one of the most improved performers in the Premier League. After his transfer to The Gunners from Charlton he looked woefully out of his depth at times last season but has come back and looked much more at home deputising for Bacary Sagna at right back for Arsenal. If he can continue his development at the same rate he can expect more international recognition in the future.

Leon Osman (Everton)

The industrious midfielder has been increasingly mentioned in dispatches over the last few seasons in relation to an England call up after becoming a more influential and consistent performer in the Toffees’ engine room. He must be surprised that at the age of 31 the call has finally come. He will see this as his opportunity to shine but it is unlikely to be the start of a long England career. If he can impress enough to earn a second squad call up he will have done well.

Tom Huddlestone (Tottenham Hotspur)

Injuries have plagued Tottenham’s well built midfielder over the last few seasons and therefore he has struggled to break into his club side’s starting eleven on a regular basis. But with a change of manager and a change of luck he is beginning to show his class again. With places up for grabs in the central areas for England he will be hoping to push ahead of Michael Carrick and Gareth Barry in the pecking order with an impressive show in Stockholm.

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

A rare inclusion in the England set up for a player from the Championship. Zaha has already impressed at Under-21 level for Stuart Pearce and has been watched by Premier League scouts for some time as he regularly demonstrates his many qualities for Palace. It will be something of a coup if new Eagles manager Ian Holloway can hold onto his prized asset in January as the big boys hover around . This game could prove the perfect opportunity for Zaha to add further value to his growing price tag.

Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea)

The Blues frontman has endured a frustrating spell at Stamford Bridge and is approaching something of a crossroads in his career. After early promise at Manchester City he has failed to hold down a regular starting position with Chelsea and despite an impressive loan spell at Bolton in 2011 he continues to struggle for regular first team action. A combination of new regime, new faces and viral meningitis have further hindered Sturridge’s progress at Chelsea so he will be hoping to show what he can do with the Three Lions on his chest, to remind his current boss what he can do, and give a nudge to others who may want to give him the chance to shine in pastures new.

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