LONDON (AP) — Going into the 2012 European Championship with England, Roy Hodgson had only a few weeks from being appointed to taking a squad to the tournament.
The two years since then have allowed Hodgson to implement his own plans, but he will head into the World Cup still relying on a core group of veterans alongside some fresh talent.
Here are five England players to watch:
Wayne Rooney, the one truly world class striker in the England squad, has yet to deliver at a World Cup, failing to score in 2006 and 2010.
But with 38 goals in 89 international matches, Rooney is only 11 from matching Bobby Charlton's England record.
A relief for England coach Roy Hodgson is that the Manchester United striker has settled his club future going into the World Cup by signing a new contract. A concern for Hodgson is just how Rooney might be affected by United's lackluster season by the time he gets to Brazil.
"He has got a difficult job on his hands because they've had a disappointing season," Hodgson said.
As the team's leader, Steven Gerrard is an automatic starter, and rightly so.
"Magisterial" is how England coach Roy Hodgson views a player who remains as influential at 33 but realistically facing one final shot at the World Cup.
"He is a world-class dead-ball specialist and physically, in that role where you need to move from side-to-side to block spaces," Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said.
Thriving in a deeper role with rejuvenated Liverpool, Gerrard will come up against the master in that position in the World Cup opener: Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo.
Gerrard will match David Beckham's record of 115 appearances for an England outfield player by playing in the three warm-up matches and three group stage games.
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