England Manager Roy Hodgson believes competition for places in his World Cup squad for Brazil is getting tougher and tougher - and thinks it can only be a good thing for the Three Lions.
Hodgson has just under six weeks until he has to submit his initial 30-man squad for the Finals. He will then have to confirm his final 23 to FIFA by 2 June, three days after the friendly match against Peru at Wembley.
A number of England internationals have dazzled in the Premier League this season and Hodgson believes the pool of players he has at his disposal now is far greater than when he first became manager in 2012.
“I’m going to have some very, very tough choices to make.”
Roy Hodgson England Manager
Hodgson was speaking live on talkSPORT's Drivetime show on Friday evening and admitted: “The level of choice and the level of difficulty in choosing is getting harder every day.
"That’s good, because about a year ago we were really lamenting the lack of English players playing in the Premier League.
“People were saying ‘how can Roy Hodgson pick squads when there’s hardly any Englishmen playing?’ There’s no doubt that I’m going to have some very, very tough choices to make."
He continued: “I see so many games. Between myself, [assistant coach] Ray Lewington and [England coach] Gary Neville we cover so many games. And all of the top teams I would’ve seen so many times between December and May. Every week I’m sort of weighing things up.
"In the two years of qualification since Euro 2012 and up to now we’re seeing lots of players come through that do have a very optimistic approach – an approach where they believe in themselves and their talent.”
Hodgson continued to praise the ascent of so many young English players during his time in charge.
And he insists he will look to strike the perfect balance between youth and experience in Brazil.
“When it comes to experience and youth, you have to be careful,” he said.
“What you don’t know in a tournament is when your injuries are going to come.
"So for example, if you take four to five very young players that you think the experience will do them really good.
"Then, all of a sudden, they have to play through the whole of the tournament because the people that you’ve taken for them to understudy suddenly get injured. You diminish your chances of doing well at a tournament. It’s a very delicate balance.
“The way we play will be a continuation of the way we have played over the last year or so.
"I think that the introduction of many of the younger players has given us pace and an injection of extremely good technical ability.
“Three games in eight days is going to be very, very testing in any circumstance.
"And with the heat and humidity it runs the risk of being even more difficult to have just the same team in every game. That’s why the balance in the team and selection of the squad is very important to me.”
And with little more than two months to go until England’s opening Group D fixture against Italy in Manaus, Hodgson feels he is already starting to notice World Cup fever taking hold.
He said: “I do quite a lot of walking around London when I’m not at Wembley or at a game, and it’s quite incredible the amount of interest that people have got in the World Cup.
“The number of people who have stopped me and wished me well and wished the team well and say how much they’re looking forward to it brings it all home to you more and more every day.
"We’re getting close and everyone is very excited.”