Sports Mole's England squad for Euro 2012

Roy Hodgson
© PA Photos
Sports Mole selects its 23-man England squad for the European Championships this summer.

It has been confirmed that Roy Hodgson will announce his preliminary England squad for Euro 2012 next Wednesday.

For months now speculation has been rife regarding which players will make the plane and those that will be off on summer holidays with friends and family.

With that in mind, Sports Mole has decided to offer Mr Hodgson some advice by selecting the 23 men that we believe are best suited to completing the task of winning the European Championships for the first time.

Goalkeepers:

Joe Hart, Manchester City
Perhaps the easiest choice of the entire squad. The City goalkeeper has been in imperious form this season, and is undoubtedly number one pick for club and country.

Ben Foster, Birmingham City
The 29-year-old has been in supreme form on loan at West Bromwich Albion this season, emerging into one of the best stoppers in the league. He simply must make the plane as back-up to Hart.

Paul Robinson, Blackburn Rovers
It is always difficult to analyse a goalkeeper's performance for a team that has been relegated, but the veteran stopper has not let anyone down this season and the club might have slipped much earlier but for his leadership qualities.

Defenders:

Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur
The 21-year-old deservedly picked up the PFA Young Player of the Year award this season after a stunning campaign with Spurs. His defensive work has improved no end, while his attacking threat makes him a must for Euro 2012.

Micah Richards, Manchester City
The defender has found himself on the bench in recent weeks with City preferring Pablo Zabaleta at full-back, but he has been in such wonderful form this season, and captained the team earlier in the campaign. Strong, quick and agile, he just has to go.

Chris Smalling, Manchester United
The 22-year-old really has come on leaps and bounds since joining Manchester United from Fulham in 2010. Unlike some other English defenders, Smalling possesses pace and height in abundance.

Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United
It was a toss up between Ferdinand and Terry for the experienced slot in this squad. The United defender's ability with the ball at his feet won through in the end.

Gary Cahill, Chelsea
Cahill's inclusion is another reason why his Chelsea teammate Terry would be left at home. The 26-year-old is not scared to stick his head in where it hurts like Terry, but he also can call upon an element of pace that Terry lacks.

Ashley Cole, Chelsea
Quite frankly there are not many more consistent left-backs on the international scene than Cole. He may have lost a yard or two of pace in recent seasons, but that has not damaged his ability to defend - as displayed by two stubborn performances in the Champions League against Lionel Messi and Barcelona.

Leighton Baines, Everton
The perfect understudy for Cole, not that Baines isn't a good player in his own right. His delivery from set plays could prove vital, while his calmness from the spot may be needed if the dreaded penalty shootout arrives.

Midfielders:

Scott Parker, Tottenham Hotspur
Parker's form over the last two seasons for West Ham United and Spurs has not gone unnoticed. There are few better in the Premier League that have the ability to win possession for his side, before picking out the creative players in his team.

Steven Gerrard, Liverpool
His match-winning days may not be as frequent as they once were, but Gerrard still has the ability to run a game. The best attacking option should a five-man midfield be required, who also appears to have a good understanding with Wayne Rooney.

Michael Carrick, Manchester United
Carrick has his critics without question. However, England currently has few better passing midfielders. His ability to sit in front of back four and spray the ball around will allow the likes of Gerrard to get forward.

Leon Britton, Swansea City
Britton's inclusion will cause a sharp intake of breath for many. The facts do not lie though - for a large part of the season the Swansea midfielder had a better passing completion rate then Xavi and Andres Iniesta. At times, keeping possession is the name of the game at international level.

Phil Jones, Manchester United
The versatility of Jones made him an attractive proposition for this squad. The 20-year-old can play at right-back, centre-back and also operate in a holding midfield role. He has shown for Man United and England that he is not scared to get forward when required.

Ashley Young, Manchester United
Over the last two seasons Young has shown he has what it takes to play for England. The winger is comfortable using either foot, which makes him difficult for defenders to second guess.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arsenal
Like Britton, Oxlade-Chamberlain has yet to receive international recognition from the senior squad. When the 18-year-old has featured for the Gunners this season he has shown maturity beyond his years. The fact that he would be unknown to other nations could prove useful.

Aaron Lennon, Tottenham Hotspur
Lennon may not have replicated his club form with England just yet. However, he has pace that would trouble any left-back at the tournament. The 25-year-old has also improved his final product over the past 12 months.

Strikers:

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Put simply, he is England's best player by a country mile. The 26-year-old will miss the first two games through suspension, but he will still play a key role in the team. He has scored 33 goals for United this season, and remains their biggest threat.

Andy Carroll, Liverpool
It hasn't been the easiest of seasons for the former Newcastle United man, but his performances in recent weeks should push him into the squad. He was brilliant against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, and equally effective two days later in the league clash with the Blues.

Danny Welbeck, Manchester United
It's been some breakthrough season for the youngster. He has emerged as a key player for United with his direct running and fantastic movement. He has also weighed in with a share of the goals and just has to make the plane.

Theo Walcott, Arsenal
The Gunners winger still has his critics, but on his day he can tear teams apart. His electrifying pace and ability to play in wide positions make him a must for Euro 2012.

Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur
In truth, the Spurs striker has hardly had a kick for the club in recent weeks, but he has still managed an extremely impressive 16 goals in 37 games for the club this season. Whatever you think about him, he scores goals, and for that reason alone he must make the squad.

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CountryGoldSilverBronzeTotal
1 AustraliaAustralia30253287
2 England flagEngland27242374
3 Scotland flagScotland1381233
8 Wales flagWales391022
15 Northern Ireland flagNorthern Ireland0112
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