Three England World Cup wildcards

With England now Brazil-bound, Sports Mole picks out three youngsters that could force their way into the World Cup squad.

Yesterday's 2-0 victory over Poland at Wembley secured England's spot at next year's World Cup in Brazil.

Almost immediately, talked turned as to who would be part of Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad for the tournament in South America.

While the likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard are shoo-ins, more often than not there is a surprise inclusion or two that steal the headlines. Here, Sports Mole has picked out three players that could potentially force their way into Hodgson's thinking.

1. Ravel Morrison

Some will argue that West Ham United's Morrison is simply flavour of the month following a solo goal against Tottenham Hotspur and a brace on international duty with England's Under-21s. The fact is, though, the 20-year-old is one of the most naturally gifted footballers among the English youth ranks. In fact, prior to allowing him to leave for London for off-field issues, Sir Alex Ferguson stated that the attacking midfielder was the best player to come through the ranks at Old Trafford since Paul Scholes.

He has turned out on eight occasions for the Hammers this term and has lit up what had often been perceived as a functional and often direct side. It is the sort of form that will need to continue if he is to capture Hodgson's attention between now and the summer.

Who could he replace? Morrison plays in a similar position to Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley. However, it does not necessarily mean that either of those two would have to drop out. Tom Cleverley is the player he could potentially replace. Although a capable footballer, others, like Morrison, offer more zest than the Man United midfielder. With Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick and even Phil Jones capable of playing in the centre of the pitch, there is room for Morrison's adventure at Cleverley's expense.

Ravel Morrison of England Under-21s drives with the ball against Lithuania at Portman Road on October 15, 2013© Getty Images

2. Luke Shaw

If the World Cup were decided on which nations had the best left-backs, England would win hands down! Leighton Baines and Ashley Cole look to be nailed on for a place in the squad and it is hard to dispute that fact.

Even so, as Cole enters the autumn of his career, injuries have started to take hold. Although nothing major, it has been little niggles, like the one that kept him out of the recent qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland.

Eighteen-year-old Shaw fully defines the modern-day full-back in that he has the creativity and ability to be a threat in the opposition's half, but also the Southampton youngster has the pace to get back and carry out his defensive duties. His performances over the last two seasons have actually drawn comparisons to a younger Cole.

Who could he replace? The likelihood is that Shaw will only go to Brazil if there is an injury sustained by either Baines or Cole. What's more, he also has to contest with Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs for the stand-by role. If the phone doesn't ring this time, surely it won't be long for the England youth international.

Luke Shaw of England (L) attacks during the 2015 UEFA European U21 Championships Qualifier between England U21 and Moldova U21 at The Madejski Stadium on September 5, 2013© Getty Images

3. Wilfried Zaha

It may seem slightly baffling to include a player that is yet to turn out for Manchester United this season, despite the fact that he is fully fit. But then Theo Walcott went to the World Cup in 2006 as untested 17-year-old - anything can happen! Nevertheless, David Moyes has opted against using the 20-year-old, who shone during the club's pre-season tour of the Far East and Australia.

Still, the Crystal Palace youth product has previously been a part of Hodgson's thinking. In fact, Zaha came on during England's August friendly with rivals Scotland and looked lively on the right flank.

The fact that he is not involved for his club must be acknowledged, though. After all, it has meant that he has not been selected for his country at senior level since the Scotland match. Recent speculation has suggested that he would like a loan move to another Premier League outfit in January - something that is much needed if he is to stand any chance of returning to the England fold.

Who could he replace? Like Shaw, Zaha would probably be relying on benefiting from an injury, which is not totally out of the question. Walcott is England's usual right winger, but he has been known to suffer from a complaint or two. Then there is the likes of James Milner and the currently fashionable Andros Townsend to compete with. First and foremost though, he must shine with his loanee club.

Finland's Tim Vayrynen and England's Wilfried Zaha battle for the ball during their U21 European Championships qualifying match on September 9, 2013© AFP

England's Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring against Poland on October 15, 2013
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