With next week’s international break approaching, we take a look at the England squad selected by Roy Hodgson for the fixtures against Germany and the Netherlands.
The glaringly obvious thing in this squad selection is that the old guard of established players is still ever present. Is it not the time to clear out the old guard and bring in some new young talent before this summer’s Euro’s?
Some may argue the inclusion of Jamie Vardy in recent announcements, and the first call-up for Danny Drinkwater in this international squad heralds a change of the times, however, what those people must consider is the number of injuries it took to force Hodgson’s hand to this way of thinking. My particular criticism is with Wayne Rooney. Even prior to his injury, the Manchester United striker was severely lacking form when compared to other strikers such as Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane. I also feel that Rooney could not even be considered the most appropriate third choice striker, as although he has a lack of experience, Marcus Rashford’s fine form, in my opinion, should earn him an England call-up as the third choice man ahead of Wayne Rooney. There is also the matter of the returning-to-fitness of Daniel Sturridge, who I feel should not be taken to the Euro’s. Even the most diehard Liverpool fan cannot deny that, with Sturridge’s injury record, the possibility of his body breaking down during a tournament situation is just too great to put him on the plane to France this summer.
Wayne Rooney has been in poor form for Manchester United this season…
I do concede, however, that certain youngsters may have to be left out of the squad for footballing reasons. My personal example of this would be Luke Shaw. I feel he is one of the top left backs in the country at this time, when fit, however, due to his injury and lack of first-team football, it would not be appropriate to take him to this summer’s Euro’s. The only reason Hodgson should have for taking him is if he regains fitness and form, and he is able to string together a run of games for Manchester United.
I also feel that selecting established players in friendlies is a pointless practice. While I concede that certain individuals may need a second look by Hodgson in order to gain selection for the finals in France, permanent fixtures such as Phil Jagielka do not need to play in every single international friendly, as Hodgson is surely certain to either pick these players or look for alternatives. The England boss may want to see if there is a better option for selection ahead of these players, rather than burying his head in the sand and going for the old guard continuously.
Another player who Hodgson has insisted on taking on every international trip is Gary Cahill. Prior to the injury to Kurt Zouma, Cahill had hardly played consistently for Chelsea but was still being selected by Hodgson in England squads. This lack of football showed in Cahill’s performances, as he clearly looked off the pace and consistently made sloppy errors, probably due to fatigue, which did not cost England simply due to the fact that the calibre of opposition being played against was not on a particularly high level. In tournament football, against a higher calibre of opposition, sloppy mistakes such as these will be punished and could cost them points or even could result in elimination earlier than expected in this tournament.
Due to the injury of Joe Hart, we will get to see something that many an England fan will be pleased about; an opportunity for one of our young talented goalkeepers to have a go at international football against decent opposition between the posts. In my opinion, if he was not injured, Roy Hodgson would needlessly play Joe Hart in friendlies without ever evaluating his other options. Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland has been consistently one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League this season but has been constantly forced to sit on the bench and watch Harts average performances. These average performances are due to, in my opinion, the City man’s experience at the top level. I condemn this mantra as I question how a young goalkeeper is supposed to gain this sort of experience if he is constantly overlooked in non-competitive internationals. Instead, he plays second fiddle to his vastly experienced counterpart who clearly gets more games at the top level of world football with Manchester City and their continued participation in the Champions League, offering him a copious amount of games against Europe’s elite.
I also feel that it is time to clear out some of the lazier old guard from the squad for the Euro’s, who have become lackadaisical and see their England shirt as a divine right, rather than the honour it should truly be. I feel Roy should replace them with young, vibrant talents such as Marcus Rashford and West Ham’s Reece Oxford who I feel are ready to take the leap to international football. I also hope that Danny Drinkwater maintains his place as I feel he would be a valuable player for the England squad at Euro 2016.
In conclusion, I feel that Hodgson needs to step away from this established player mentality and forget about results when it comes to friendly internationals and use them in the way that they are intended to blood in young talent on the top international stage.