- Associated Press - Friday, May 30, 2014

LONDON (AP) - Going into the 2012 European Championship with England, Roy Hodgson had only a few weeks from being appointed to taking a squad to the tournament.

The two years since then have allowed Hodgson to implement his own plans, but he will head into the World Cup still relying on a core group of veterans alongside some tournament newcomers.

Here are five England players to watch:

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WAYNE ROONEY

Wayne Rooney, the one truly world class striker in the England squad, has yet to deliver at a World Cup, failing to score in 2006 and 2010.

But with 38 goals in 89 international matches, Rooney is only 11 from matching Bobby Charlton’s England record.

A relief for England coach Roy Hodgson is that the Manchester United striker has settled his club future going into the World Cup by signing a new contract. A concern for Hodgson is just how Rooney might be affected by United’s lackluster season by the time he gets to Brazil.

“He has got a difficult job on his hands because they’ve had a disappointing season,” Hodgson said.

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STEVEN GERRARD

As the team’s leader, Steven Gerrard is an automatic starter, and rightly so.

“Magisterial” is how England coach Roy Hodgson views a player who remains as influential at 33 but realistically facing one final shot at the World Cup.

Hodgson will be hoping Gerrard is not affected by Liverpool falling just short in the Premier League title race after a costly mistake by the midfielder in the run-in against Chelsea.

Thriving in a deeper role with rejuvenated Liverpool, Gerrard will come up against the master in that position in the World Cup opener: Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

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