LONDON (Reuters) - England manager Roy Hodgson should be brave and let his young guns off the leash at the World Cup in Brazil, according to former striker Michael Owen.
Hodgson was praised for selecting the likes of Liverpool’s 19-year-old winger Raheem Sterling and Everton midfielder Ross Barkley in his 23-man squad this week and Owen believes their “no-fear” approach can inspire England.
“They will want to show off and impress,” Owen, who made a dramatic impact as an 18-year-old at the 2002 World Cup finals with a superb goal against Argentina, told The Sun on Wednesday.
”I would certainly play as many young, fearless, attacking players as I could.
“Attack is the only way, Looking at the squad, it’s a signal of intent really.”
With the likes of Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Southampton duo Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw also in the squad, England travel to south America with a youthful look but Owen does not believe their lack of tournament experience will be a hindrance.
“When you’re young and go to a World Cup you have no scars,” said Owen, who scored 40 goals for his country.
”You have only been used to success in football.
“That’s why I like the look of this squad and get pretty excited.”
Sterling’s impact at Liverpool has been likened to that of the teenaged Owen, who believes his confidence will be sky high after a great season at Anfield.
”He’s got pace, he’s got belief in himself and he can finish,“ he said. ”If you’ve got all three you’ve got a chance of upsetting even the best defenders.
”I‘m also a fan of Barkley and Lallana and you think ‘how are we going to get all these players into the team?’
“Because I‘m pretty sure one or two of them will ignite the whole tournament.”
England begin their World Cup campaign against Italy in Manaus on June 14, before playing Uruguay and Costa Rica.
Writing by Martyn Herman; Editing by John O'Brien