Rodriguez still in the frame for fourth England World Cup striker spot
While there are any number of midfielders queuing up to be selected for England’s World Cup squad, it’s all a bit bare up front. Wayne Rooney (1/50 to make the final 23), Daniel Sturridge (1/25) and Danny Welbeck (1/6) look certainties for Brazil, but the fourth striker place still looks very much up for grabs.
That’s if there is a fourth place. Roy Hodgson might decide that three is enough and back them up with attacking midfielders Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana.
But if he does want to double up in every position and so pick four forwards, who will he take? The tried and trusted Jermain Defoe (5/2)? The fit-again Andy Carroll (3/1)? Or one of the Southampton front men, Rickie Lambert (7/2) or Jay Rodriguez (5/1)?
In World Cup terms, Defoe hasn’t done himself any favours moving to Canada, but he is a natural poacher (he scored two on his debut for Toronto at the weekend), who is always likely to get you a goal from the bench.
Carroll is not everybody’s cup of tea, but his sheer physical presence is enough to put the wind up less robust defences and he certainly didn’t let Hodgson down at the 2012 Euros.
Lambert is a big unit, too, but has a better all-round game than the Geordie and he, too, has shown that he isn’t overawed by the big stage. He’s an extremely popular figure in the dressing room as well and being a good tourist is not a consideration to be undervalued.
But the dark horse is Rodriguez. The Burnley boy appeared to have fluffed his lines when given his chance in the friendly against Chile last November, but Hodgson picked him again in his squad for the Denmark game and my impression is that he has by no means given up on him.
Indeed, the England boss’s presence at the Southampton v Norwich match at the weekend might have been as much to do with having another good look at Rodriguez as it was about keeping an eye on left back Luke Shaw.
Whoever goes, it is most unlikely that they will barge past Rooney (1/20) and Sturridge (1/5) for a place in the starting line-up against Italy; even Welbeck’s (6/5) best chance of a game will be out wide on the left, where he will face strong competition from Lallana (7/4).