Jamie Redknapp believes England will play an exciting brand of football at the World Cup – but has no idea how far they will go.
Roy Hodgson has selected 13 players under the age of 28 in his squad, with injury doubt Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Everton starlet Ross Barkley (both 20), Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling (19) and Southampton left-back Luke Shaw (18) the youngest of the group.
Hodgson’s youthful side begin their campaign against Italy in Manaus on Saturday night, before clashes with Uruguay (June 19) and Costa Rica (June 24), while if they progress into the last-16 stage, a match with Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast or Japan awaits.
Sky Sports pundit Redknapp is expecting fireworks and a potential appearance in the final - particularly if Barkley is handed a spot in Hodgson’s starting line-up.
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“It wouldn’t surprise you if England got to the final or got knocked out in the group stage,” said Redknapp during his video preview of the World Cup on skysports.com.
“They are young, exciting and pacey, especially Daniel Sturridge, who has special talent, looks like he will enjoy the World Cup and is my bet to be England’s top scorer.
“It is not in Roy Hodgson’s DNA to attack but with this team he has got no choice and I really hope he starts Barkley as he could frighten the life out of people.
“The dilemma for Roy is how he sets the team up as while we are not in the ‘Group of Death’ it is not the easiest group you are going to have.
“It is important that we start well and a draw against Italy wouldn’t be the worst, and if we get out of the group none of our next opponents are going to scare you, and after that you never know."
Redknapp, though, has named Argentina – who last won the tournament in 1986 after beating Germany 3-2 in the final in Mexico City – as his favourites to lift the World Cup in Rio de Janiero on July 13.
The former Liverpool and Tottenham midfielder expects the South Americans to waltz through their group, and says Barcelona maestro Lionel Messi – provided he is over his injury concerns – is the “outstanding candidate” to take the Golden Boot.
“We will never know whether Messi saved himself for the World Cup or he was worried about his body,” Redknapp said of the 26-year-old.
“But if he can get his fitness back to where it was a couple of years ago you have got to fancy Argentina.
“With the group they are in – Bosnia, Nigeria and Iran – he looks a good bet to not only win the World Cup with Argentina but also to finish as top goalscorer, as you can easily see him getting a hat-trick against Iran.”