With a brief March international break scheduled for next week, England today have released the names being called up to face Denmark. Only four friendly matches remain between now and the kickoff of the World Cup this summer, with dates against Peru, Ecuador, and Honduras to follow in May and June, and for players on the fringes of the England squad there isn't much time left to impress.
Given Liverpool's strong season to date and the significant role played by English players, it's no surprise five have been called up for next Wednesday's match, with Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling joining Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, and Glen Johnson in Roy Hodgson's squad. And on form at least, there's no doubt both Henderson and Sterling deserve it.
"It's a wonderful demonstration of how hard he's been working; how well he's been playing," was Brendan Rodgers' reaction when the Liverpool manager was asked about Henderson's inclusion. "England have got a lot of good midfield players, a lot of outstanding players, and Jordan is up there among them. He wants to be the best he can be—and England is a better squad when Jordan is in it."
On form, there may even be a strong case for both Henderson and Sterling deserving to start, though given their relative youth and outsider status in the England set up, the smart money will likely be on them only making the bench. It's also worth noting Hodgson has called on 30 players for the match. Some will clearly have to impress in training before they're given the chance to impress against Denmark.
For Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge, a spot in Brazil is clearly guaranteed. If fit, Glen Johnson's position seems similarly certain. For the likes of Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling, though, there may still be a need to impress—and despite their good form this season, there's a chance they may have to even before Wednesday's game if they're to have a chance of making it to the World Cup.
Other notable selection choices include a first international call-up for Southampton's Luke Shaw, while Sunderland's Adam Johnson and West Ham's Andy Carroll have both been left out, likely ending any slim World Cup hopes the pair may have had. The Denmark friendly is scheduled to kick off at 8PM GMT/3PM EST on Wednesday, March 5th, from Wembley.