The Irish Mail on Sunday

FA want Hodgson to lead his young England stars to Russia 2018

- By Alex Miller

THE Football Associatio­n want Roy Hodgson to guide the next generation of stars such as Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling through to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Senior officials privately backed Hodgson to carry on beyond his current contract, which runs until the 2016 European Championsh­ip in France, after the announceme­nt of a youthful and exciting 23-man squad for Brazil last week.

FA sources believe Hodgson, at 66 the oldest ever England manager, is doing a great job following an unbeaten qualifying campaign from a group including Ukraine and Poland and hope he can be persuaded to lead the team to Russia, despite the fact he will be close to turning 71 when the finals start.

They also appreciate the experience­d Hodgson, who led Switzerlan­d to the World Cup in 1994, has steadied the ship since taking charge in May 2012 after the messy resignatio­n of his predecesso­r Fabio Capello. A lack of obvious successors to Hodgson is also a major factor.

The inclusion of Everton midfielder Barkley, 20, Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, 19, Southampto­n left-back Luke Shaw, 18,

and Arsenal forward Alex Oxlade-Chamberlai­n, 20, has produced England’s second youngest World Cup squad, with eight players aged under 24.

‘They deserve to be in there,’ said Hodgson when he announced his 23-man squad. ‘I’m not taking anyone just for experience.’

There are also high hopes for the likes of Liverpool youngster Jon Flanagan, 21, and 19-year-old Everton central defender John Stones, both on standby.

Hodgson underlined his faith in youth by jettisonin­g Ashley Cole, the Chelsea left-back and veteran of 107 internatio­nals.

Earlier this year FA general secretary Alex Horne assured Hodgson he will lead England into Euro 2016, no matter what happens in the World Cup, while Hodgson hasn’t ruled out extending his reign.

 ??  ?? plenty to ponder: Roy Hodgson (centre) is lost in thought at Wembley with Greg Dyke
plenty to ponder: Roy Hodgson (centre) is lost in thought at Wembley with Greg Dyke

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