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    England taking youthful squad to World Cup

    May 13, 2014
    Roy Hodgson's squad has an average age of 26, the second-youngest ever for England. The 1958 England team had an average age of 24.8. AP

    LUTON, England — Midfielders Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were among just six World Cup veterans selected by England coach Roy Hodgson for his 23-man World Cup roster.

    Forward Wayne Rooney, goalkeeper Joe Hart, defender Glen Johnson and midfielders James Milner were the other players picked with World Cup experience. Lampard turns 36 on June 20, the day after England plays Uruguay in its second group-stage match.

    "Frank is a very important part of our setup and you shouldn't think about players in terms of age, but of position," said Monday. "When you're in midfield, you have many more positions to choose from.

    “Frank has been captain on many occasions and has been vice captain to Steven Gerrard. He still plays an important role for his club, and we think his leadership qualities and his abilities will help us in the summer."

    Eleven players have made 10 appearances or fewer for England, which plays Italy in its first-round opener on June 14 and also is grouped with Costa Rica.

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    "Circumstances will prove whether the decision to take the younger player was right or not," Hodgson said during the squad announcement, held at a car factory in Luton, north of London.

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    "You get experience by getting the opportunity. It's wrong to focus totally on the fact there are those who are inexperienced because everyone is inexperienced until they get the chance to do the job. I think they've played so well and been so effective in their club teams that they've really imposed their ability on my thinking."

    The most inexperienced player is 18-year-old Southampton defender Luke Shaw, who made his national team debut in March and displaced 33-year-old Ashley Cole from the roster. Shaw will be the backup at left back to Leighton Baines.

    Cole announced his international retirement after being dropped, and the decision could backfire if Baines is injured in the first warmup match.

    "If Baines suffered an injury ... it would make the selection of Shaw a very bad selection," Hodgson said.

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    Nineteen-year-old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and 20-year-old Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, who total five international appearances, also were selected.

    "He's a very, very exciting player, a very exciting talent and if he can continue at that level he has a very exciting future ahead of him," Hodgson said of Barkley. "But I would hope people will temper their expectations of him."

    Rooney, coming off two scoreless World Cups, is spending this week on holiday in Portugal accompanied by fitness trainers. The Manchester United star was criticized for spending his break before the 2012 European Championship in Las Vegas but is getting to Portugal before the full 23-man squad arrives for a training camp next week.

    "Wayne is so determined to be up and running when we get there on the 19th," Hodgson said. "I'm not as desperate for him to be fully fit on the 19th. I'm thinking more of June 14, but it's still quite laudable that that's the way he thinks and I'm not trying to dissuade him."

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    The other forwards in the squad are Rooney's United teammate Danny Welbeck, Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge and Rickie Lambert, who has climbed with Southampton from the third tier to the Premier League.

    "I've been suffering with my sleep and getting up in the middle of the night because I'm just lying there thinking about the possibility of going to the World Cup," said Lambert, who has scored two goals in four England appearances. "Over the last week, I've been sleeping less and less and last night it was virtually impossible because my head was everywhere."

    Lambert helped push Toronto FC's Jermain Defoe and Andy Carroll to the standby list.

    The only player picked who isn't with a Premier League club is backup goalkeeper Fraser Forster of Scotland's Glasgow Celtic.

    The roster:

    Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Glasgow Celtic, Scotland), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)

    Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Chris Smalling (Manchester United)

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    Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)

    Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Daniel Welbeck (Manchester United)

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    Roy Hodgson's squad has an average age of 26, the second-youngest ever for England. The 1958 England team had an average age of 24.8. AP
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