England manager Roy Hodgson feels the sparkling form of Raheem Sterling and the re-emergence of Wilfried Zaha could leave him spoilt for choice in wide areas at the World Cup.
Sterling, 19, has produced some scintillating displays for Liverpool in recent weeks, notably scoring twice in the 5-1 demolition of Arsenal last weekend that relaunched his side’s Premier League title challenge.
Zaha, meanwhile, is belatedly enjoying some first-team action after joining Cardiff City on loan from Manchester United last month.
Sterling made his England debut in a 4-2 friendly defeat away to Sweden in November 2012, but he vanished from view in the second half of the 2012/13 campaign as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers elected to rest him.
The move has paid off in spectacular fashion this season and Hodgson has been delighted by Sterling’s return to form.
“It’s a re-emergence in a way, because when we opened the stadium in Stockholm (against Sweden), he’d burst into the Liverpool team then and was doing fantastically well,” Hodgson said.
“And then he lost his place for a while, almost disappeared off the scene, so he wasn’t on the radar to quite the same extent.
“Since he’s got back in the Liverpool team, his form seems to be going up and up and up. What it means is, we do have competition in the wide areas.
“There are wide players right and wide players left. People like him emerging and doing as well as he is in a top, top team just puts a lot of pressure on everybody else, really.
“Because if you can do it at the top of the table at Liverpool, then you can do it in an England shirt as well.”
Zaha got his first taste of international football in the same game as Sterling, but he made only two league appearances for United this season following a close-season switch from Crystal Palace.
His loan move to Cardiff has given him a second chance, however, and he has started in three consecutive games for the Welsh club.
Hodgson has been enthused by the 21-year-old’s performances, and cites 19-year-old Norwich City winger Nathan Redmond as further cause for optimism about England’s options on the flanks.
“Now you’ve got the boy Zaha back in the frame again, I suppose. He’s playing football at Cardiff after his time out,” Hodgson said.
“Redmond is back in at Norwich, doing very, very well. (Alex) Oxlade-Chamberlain coming back, Aaron Lennon still there, so we’re not short of candidates.
“It’s going to be a choice at the end of the day: how many of that type of player do I want to include in the squad? It’s very good for me, I think.”
Hodgson, who also namechecked Sunderland winger Adam Johnson, will reveal his next England squad on February 27, ahead of a friendly game against Denmark at Wembley Stadium the following week.
England have been drawn alongside Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D at the World Cup in Brazil, which begins on June 12.