Four years is a long time in football. And so it will prove this summer, as England head to Brazil with a mere handful of World Cup veterans from South Africa in tow.
Fabio Capello's ageing squad endured a disastrous campaign in 2010, but things are looking up under Roy Hodgson, who has unearthed a fresh cast of young and hungry whipper-snappers ready to don the Three Lions England shirt with pride.
It says a lot about the transition of England squad personnel that at least 13 of the 23 that went to Rustenburg have absolutely no chance of making the plane to Rio - remember the likes of thoroughbred England internationals David James, Joe Cole, Jamie Carragher, Emile Heskey, Ledley King, Matt Upson and Shaun Wright-Phillips? These are all figures of the international past, and we're compelled to be excited by the new generation replacing them.
So, to celebrate, here's our top 5 World Cup rookies set to shake things up in Brazil...
5 Gary Cahill:-
Back in 2010, he was a Bolton stopper who had been let go by his boyhood club - Aston Villa - and was yet to make his mark on the international scene. Fast forward four years and the Chelsea man is a regular for club and country with 22 caps and a Champions League winners' medal to boot. Has formed a consistent partnership with Phil Jagielka at the heart of Roy Hodgson's defence and at 6ft 3ins he's a threat in attacking areas too.
4:- Leighton Baines
The Everton left back has been a veritable revelation in the Premier League in recent years, and seems finally to have made the England number 3 shirt his own having dislodged out of favour Ashley Cole. He's sure to start the opener against Italy in Manaus and although he's no spring chicken at 29, he can be a fixture in the side for years to come.
3:- Andros Townsend
Townsend had a somewhat nomadic start to his career, being loaned out by Spurs on a grand total of nine different occasions. But the powerful winger has now not only found his feet at White Hart Lane, but has burst onto the international scene as well. Indeed, it was the 22-year-old's pace and sense of purpose during the last two group games that jet-propelled England's qualification for Brazil in the first place. If those performances are anything to go by, he simply has to be let loose on England's Group D opponents.
2:- Adam Lallana
This silky Southampton starlet is a rare breed from these Isles, in that he's eternally comfortable in possession, shows bravery on tha ball that belies his years and can shoot and pass well with either foot. In his few Three Lions appearances so far, he's looked a natural at international level, and his calming influence, creative ability and - let's face it - tremendous form, make him an absolute must for the starting XI in England's first game against Italy.
1:- Daniel Sturridge
Put simply, Danny Sturridge is by far the best English striker we have right now. Which is all the more remarkable given that he spent his formative years warming benches and having his nose put out of joint by various managers at Man City and Chelsea. Now flourishing under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, the 24-year-old ace has scored a frankly phenomenal 34 goaols in 40 games for the Anfield club and will arrive in Brazil in good spirits. If the brimming Brummy can replicate his club form in a Three Lions shirt this summer, then he could hold the key to England's hopes.
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