Can United’s Tom Cleverley make England’s World Cup squad?
Midfield is arguably the most keenly contested of areas, with a host of both experienced campaigners and young talents in the mix for inclusion.
The likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jack Wilshere are more than likely central midfield certainties to travel to South America, while a host of others will need strong remainders to the current season to book their place in the contingent.
Michael Carrick, Ross Barkley, James Milner, Gareth Barry and Ravel Morrison will all be in Hodgson’s thoughts, while Jordan Henderson is impressing at Anfield and holding his hand up to win a recall.
Tom Cleverley has seen his influence and importance at Old Trafford grow in recent weeks, with the homegrown star forced to step up to the plate for a side in transition.
With Carrick and Marouane Fellaini both suffering from injuries, United look decidedly short of central midfield options at the moment, giving Cleverley the chance to play more regularly.
Cleverley could well be a wildcard for the England squad, as when on form he typifies the box-to-box midfielder that can both put his foot in and also get forward to support the attacking line.
In some circles, the former Wigan loanee has been talked about as the long-term replacement for United legend Paul Scholes, and at times he has shown ability that suggests he can be an important player for the Manchester side.
However, these performances have been too fleeting, and Cleverley has struggled to command a regular place in the United side over the last 18 months if everyone is fit and available.
His performances have been labeled as one-dimensional at times, while the confidence that he showed at the start of the 2011-12 campaign after returning from the DW Stadium seems to have waned over time.
However, in recent weeks Cleverley has put in a number of commanding showings, ended a goal drought and looked like a midfielder with drive and purpose.
He has made 13 appearances for England over the last two years, but will need to be at his best for United over the next couple of months to force World Cup inclusion.
Defensive midfielders such as Carrick and Barry will be considered, while Barkley and Lampard fit the bill as more offensive options. The box-to-box variety sees Cleverley up against Wilshere and Henderson.
With United linked with plenty of midfield reinforcements, it is set to be an important next six months for Cleverley at club and national level.
Can Cleverley make England’s World Cup squad?
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