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England starting 11 v Moldova

Tom Cleverley was handed his first competitive start for England against Moldova, with Jermain Defoe winning his 50th cap as the lone striker. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was also in the starting 11.

England line-up v Moldova:

Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, John Terry, Leighton Baines, James Milner, Frank Lampard, Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Steven Gerrard (captain), Jermain Defoe.

Subs: Ruddy, Walker, Bertrand, Cahill, Carrick, Jagielka, Walcott, Sturridge, Welbeck, Butland.

England - On a mission 

So far, so good. The mission is for England to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil and frankly, nothing less than a convincing victory against Moldova would have been acceptable for the players, the fans and the media.

Wayne Rooney, Ashley Cole, Adam Johnson and Andy Carroll were absent through injury, with the majority of the other regulars returning after being rested for the friendly victory over Italy in August.

Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started, but Michael Carrick, Danny Welbeck and Kyle Walker were among the players who were left out of the starting 11.

Total Football’s Simon Wright assesses some of England's key men for their World Cup qualifying campaign - and picks out a few who are keen to make an impact for their country on the road to Brazil...

Joe Hart - England's Mr Dependable

Jack Butland and John Ruddy have shown in recent months that there is plenty of depth in a position where England have struggled regularly since David Seaman’s retirement almost a decade ago.

Both though are still some way behind Joe Hart. The Manchester City stopper is one of the best in the world and a certain pick barring injury.

Kyle Walker - When will he get his chance? 

Tottenham right back Kyle Walker heads a list of England players in a position where there is so much strength in depth, but he missed out against Moldova.

Last season's winner of the PFA Young Player of the Year has had his injury problems, which ruled him out of both Euro 2012 and the Olympics.

For such a young age, Walker has proven on a regular basis, both his excellent defensive duties and his ability to get forward.

Plus, he has a superb right foot and can score free-kicks too. If he is given his chance, it could be the start of a lengthy run in the England first team, but Glen Johnson might have something to say about that. 

John Terry - A born leader

Everyone has an opinion about John Terry and as a personality, he isn’t the best example.

What can’t be questioned are Terry’s abilities as a defender. He is a leader, a commanding presence within any defence and opponents will know they are in for a tough game against his physical prowess.

One of the best for heading the ball from the back, he would have been a definite starter for Tuesday's game against Ukraine, but is doubtful after limping off late in the game against Moldova.

Joleon Lescott - Terry's new partner

The battle to be John Terry’s regular centre back partner for England under Hodgson could be one full of intrigue and disappointment.

After his friendly goal in Bern, Phil Jagielka will feel he has a claim by merit, as will Terry’s club mate at Chelsea, Gary Cahill.

However, the assurance of Joleon Lescott (pictured) has earned him a starting spot for the Moldova match.

Generally a reliable head, an occasional goalscorer from set pieces and fully part of an emerging team, Lescott’s game has improved rapidly within the last 12 months.

His partnership with Terry was also one of the best during Euro 2012.

Leighton Baines - Another chance to shine

Ashley Cole’s injury means Leighton Baines was given another chance to prove his international merits against Moldova.

His performance in the 2-1 friendly triumph over Italy last month was his best in an England jersey and the dependable left back was one of the scorers as he was given another chance to show his consistency on Friday night.

Michael Carrick - Back in form, but missed out in Moldova

What a difference a few months has made for Michael Carrick.

Almost totally ignored by Fabio Capello and with inconsistent form in the Manchester United side, it looked like his international days were over.

However, Roy Hodgson has given him a second chance and although his marking was slack for the goal that England conceded in the Italy friendly, he played well and was one of the best players on the evening in Bern.

Was in contention for a place in the England starting 11 in Moldova, but had to settle for an appearance as a substitute. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - On the crest of a wave

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on a crest of a wave as his career continues to rise towards potential stardom. He started again against Moldova and was in excellent form.

The Arsenal winger showed no signs of pressure at Euro 2012 and he is the wildcard that England possess among their ranks.

He is a pacey winger, who will always join in the attacks, has better knowledge of doing defensive duties than his club colleague Theo Walcott and generally, could become one of the best in the world in his position with more time.

Without a doubt, these sort of games will help in his development as a footballer. 

Steven Gerrard - Poor form but gets another chance

No-one can deny the close working relationship that Steven Gerrard has with Roy Hodgson. He is the perfect captain but that doesn’t mean he’s a guaranteed starting 11 member.

Gerrard’s form for Liverpool so far this season has been very poor. He has often looked lost in the games and doesn’t seem comfortable with the new style being adapted at Anfield.

With England, Hodgson will incorporate a brand of football that Gerrard will be totally familiar to.

The clash with Moldova was a good opportunity for him to prove the cynical critics wrong, but he was substituted before half-time.

Frank Lampard - Attacking instincts

Frank Lampard doesn’t have the best international record, especially in recent seasons and there will be the old arguments about him and Steven Gerrard not playing well together.

However, his attacking instincts mean he should be a regular starter in the World Cup qualifiers and in this match, England were looking for goals. Lampard didn't disappoint, with an early spot-kick - to earn himself a new record as the player who has scored most penalties in an England shirt - and a great header inside the first 30 minutes.

Lampard took over the captaincy from Gerrard when England's first half skipper was substituted. 

Although the youngsters are queuing up for a regular role in this hotly contested position, it isn’t Lampard who should need to worry about his regular international place.

James Milner - Johnson's pain is ex team-mate's gain

Adam Johnson was ruled out against Moldova as he recovers from a thigh injury. This means his former team-mate James Milner was given a start.

Although some would argue that his best role would be in the centre of midfield, the 26-year-old is comfortable on either wing and he usually puts in 100 per cent effort without any complaints.

The Manchester City man works hard, something that Hodgson appreciates from all of his players, and can provide useful balls into the channels for the strikers and the attack-minded midfielders. 

He might not be everyone's favourite and nor does he take regular man of the match glory, but Milner is a useful addition to any starting 11. He also showed that he can find the net, although don't expect to be able to rely on him for goals.

Danny Welbeck - Has got what it takes, but not quite enough for a start

Pace, intelligence and a proven goalscorer, there is a lot to Danny Welbeck’s game, which has made him an important figure for his country. Not important enough though, as he missed out against Moldova.

He played well in his first major tournament in the summer, and has shown plenty of skill and no signs of feeling the pressure.

Welbeck is a very skilful individual and has shown maturity for his age. The youngster might be part of a rotation policy at Manchester United but he could make himself into an immovable selection for his country. Not just yet though, and no doubt he'll be disappointed to miss out on a start against Moldova given Rooney's absence through injury.


Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Birmingham City), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich City).

Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Ryan Bertrand (Chelsea), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), John Terry (Chelsea), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United).

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

Follow Total Football on Twitter: @TotalFootball12

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