Hodgson's big gamble

Hodgson's big gamble
Adam Lallana celebrates scoring the third goal for Southampton.

And so, the die is cast. Roy Hodgson has chosen the 23 men who will travel to Brazil for the World Cup this summer and who will come to define his time as England manager. Criticised in the past for his preference for older players, Hodgson has brought in a selection of young stock, protected one sacred cow and ruthlessly slaughtered another.

Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Fraser Forster, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert will all travel to their first major tournament. Frank Lampard, only a bit-part player for Chelsea these days, somehow survived the cull and will join them. Ashley Cole, replaced at Stamford Bridge by Cesar Azpilicueta, was not so fortunate. Cole's international career, a 13-year odyssey that brought 107 caps, came to an end over the phone.

Hodgson decided to make individual calls to the players he didn't require, sparing them from learning of their fate through the media, but also to privately gauge their willingness to remain on the standby list. Cole, understandably, preferred to bring the curtain down on his career instead.

It is certainly a bold decision by Hodgson. Cole has been one of the best fullbacks in the world for some time, one of England's few world-class players.

But there is no doubt that his powers are fading.

That's the conclusion Jose Mourinho came to last November, the last time Cole was considered first choice at Stamford Bridge.

PACE AND STAMINA

The man whose pace and stamina complemented his technical abilities and judgment, is no longer capable of those surging runs.

Perhaps, though, says the counter-argument, he wouldn't need to make those runs playing in a cautious England team. He didn't need them when he shone for Chelsea against Liverpool and Atletico Madrid in a static back four.

And who would you rather bring on to hold a lead? A veteran, or the untested Luke Shaw?

Hodgson, contrary to what many had presumed, went for the latter.

"I got the call from Roy and agree that the England team should be about young players," tweeted Cole on Sunday night.

"I think it is best that I retire from the England team now. We have a great manager and team and I wish them only success. I will be supporting them like a true fan. Thanks to everyone for everything."

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