Paul Merson praises England young players despite Sweden loss

Last Updated: 15/11/12 12:01pm

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Paul Merson says that Roy Hodgson will be quietly happy with England's display in their friendly against Sweden, despite a 4-2 defeat.

Hodgson handed first caps to Steven Caulker, Leon Osman and Raheem Sterling from the start, while, Carl Jenkinson, Wilfried Zaha and Ryan Shawcross came on as substitutes in the second half.

However, it was Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic who stole all the headlines as he scored all four of Sweden's goals.

"Let's not forget that before England started to make all the changes they were very comfortable and were playing well," said Merson on Sky Sports.

"It makes it difficult when you have players coming on making their debut but before that I thought England looked very comfortable and I think Roy Hodgson will be quietly pleased.

"I thought Sterling did as well as he could - he did get a bit tired before the end which is understandably as he has had a long season already and it is only November. I also thought Osman was very good and played himself into the game.

"He has got great feet, gets himself into nice positions and I think he will get on the plane knowing that he did very well and did not let himself down at all. He would be in my squad; I know he is 31, but why not?"

"I would have changed the goalkeeper -we know what Joe Hart can do and he is a top draw goalie. But if he gets injured and we are relying on another goalie to come in for big matches then I see that being a bit of a problem."

"We draw quite a few matches so it is going to be a fight. However I think the future is bright, we have some young kids coming through and we have got to keep on blooding them"
Paul Merson

Merson also praised Steven Gerrard who won his 100th cap against Sweden: "For me he is one of the best English football players I have ever seen, he is my favourite player and is a different class. Some people get a lot of caps and you wonder how they got them, but he deserves every single one of his caps."

Montenegro's victory over San Marino in their World Cup qualifying game means that England are no longer top of their group and while Merson believes England will be in a bit of a fight to get that top spot back, he also believes that England's future is bright.

"Okay, we are not top of our group now and we have got to fight now. You looked at the group at the start and would have thought that's a gimme, but it isn't now.

"We draw quite a few matches so it is going to be a fight. However I think the future is bright, we have some young kids coming through and we have got to keep on blooding them - we need to keep on bringing these players in."

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