Anger. England’s squad announcement left me with bizarre sensation of anger as the list was read out on Sky Sports News just past 11am on this fine Monday morning. I wasn’t expect such a feeling but it was when Andros Townsend and more inexplicable Fabien Delph’s name was read out amongst the other 24 France hopefuls that proved to be my undoing.
I have relaxed now though. I have done my banking errands for the morning and feel like I can now have a look at the England squad with fresh eyes. So here it is…
THE SWEEPER’S REACTION TO ROY’S ENGLAND EURO PARTY
This was expected. Once Jack Butland had injured his ankle against Germany, Heaton was the logical replacement for the ever so impressive young Englishman. Joe Hart will assume the role as number one, with Fraser Forster is obvious deputy.
This may well perhaps be Hart’s last chance at tournament however where he will be considered the de facto no.1 for the national team. It said volumes in my humble opinion that Butland got the nod over Forster for the German friendly and what you can be sure of is that England have some of the most gifted goalkeepers in the Premier League at their disposal.
Almost like for like as the last set of friendlies, Roy however has thrown a little bit of a curveball in naming on three centre halves for this squad but then again, who else really had a chance if Phil Jagielka was to be over looked? The only name that springs to mind is that of Ryan Shawcross.
Shawcross was playing centre back on that fateful in Sweden when Zlatan Ibrahimović decide to make a fool out of us all and since then the Stoke City centre back hasn’t seemingly been close to make the cut once more. Centre Back certainly will be a position of concern for England going into France with Eric Dier offering emergency cover if we need it.
I have to be honest and say that I am shocked that Aaron Cresswell hasn’t had more public outcry about his lack of selection. Cresswell has had yet another fantastic season at West Ham. Perhaps more in the Leighton Baines mould than Danny Rose’s seamlessly endless over lapping capabilities, Cresswell is a very good footballer who can deliver a ball into the box aswell as having his own eye for goal (just ask Kasper Schmeichel). To be overlooked once more seems harsh on the West Ham fullback.
This is where the sword will be swung when it comes to cutting down the squad. Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshere’s inclusion is a matter of proving fitness. If they both prove to Hodgson and the England coaches, both will undoubtedly be going to the Euros.
For however much people say that Jack Wilshere has only played X amount of minutes this season (a fair argument admittedly), Wilshere also provides a little bit of sparkle and technical ability that is seemingly rare to have at England’s disposal. His ability to beat players from a deep position, to break that line in midfield and take on players provides him with something perhaps only Dele Alli might also possess – unpredictability.
If I was in charge of swinging previously mentioned sword to trim this squad for the short hop across the channel this summer, I know which three would hear me telling them au revoir!
Firstly, Fabian Delph should be nowhere near this squad. He should be on a beach perhaps Bora-Bora, doing some body boarding and drinking a ‘pina colada’ out of a coconut. Instead, someone like Mark Noble will be doing that. It is just inexplicable silliness.
When Danny Welbeck got injured, it suddenly dawned on myself that actually England, for all their attacking powers this season, are dreadfully short of wide men who can do a decent job consistently. Raheem Sterling’s inclusion seems to be either down to previous reputation or lack of options, whilst Andros Townsend’s inclusion is just baffling.
Whilst I can just about cope with Sterling’s inclusion (but has he really had a better season than Walcott? At least Walcott is a player who at least has some international pedigree), selecting Townsend seems just so strange when Michail Antonio has consistently performed well at West Ham, a side that has been consistently good all season. Antonio has provided more goals and assists (15 in all in the Premier League) than any other wide player included in this squad.
Marc Albrighton is another player who, whilst I don’t think is good enough for England, has had such a better season than Sterling or Townsend in terms of goals, assists and just general consistency that he must also feel aggrieved at not making a surprising inclusion.
Now the apparent headliner grabber. The reaction and clamour over Marcus Rashford’s inclusion seemingly is the headline grabber from today’s events but surely, this was expected?
Sky Sports News themselves broke a story that Rashford was too be included in this squad, but his role would very much be like that of John Stones and Jon Flanagan’s at the last World Cup. Rashford would come in and train with the senior squad, start getting him familiarised with the set-up, the process of International Duty with the senior squad, perhaps even get his first cap. The real shock would surely stem from his inclusion in the final 23 at the expense of probably Daniel Sturridge, something I just can’t see happening.
Other than that, England are going into a major competition with goals literally coming out of their ears. Whilst Wayne Rooney will probably play as a no.10 I imagine, behind Harry Kane, Roy Hodgson has genuinely exciting options to bring off the bench to change a game. With Vardy’s pace and Sturridge’s technical ability, Hodgson will be more than confident in having game-changing substitutions if any give game requires a final 30 minute comeback.
This is a genuinely exciting England squad despite my reservations of certain inclusions. I never quite believed all the hype of previous England sides. Capello’s 2010 World Cup squad seemed as predictable as their consequent lack lustre defeat in the first knock out game but today’s England has an air of youth and genuine unpredictability about selections, formation and style that makes England exciting to watch once more.
Whilst Roy Hodgson has a point to prove after England’s disappointing showing in the World Cup in Brazil, it must be commended how Roy has brought together a squad that is genuinely exciting going forward.
The Sweeper’s Best Starting England XI
Nathanial Clyne Chris Smalling Gary Cahill Danny Rose
James Milner Eric Dier
Adam Lallanna Wayne Rooney (c) Dele Alli
Partnerships from club level are crucial in international games and I think in Clyne, Milner, Lallanna and Rose, Dier, Alli and Kane you have partnerships that can dominate either side of the field, whether that be in defence or attack. Luckily for Roy Hodgson, Liverpool and Tottenham share a similar level of intensity which can only aid players all being on the same page come kick off against Russia on the 11th June in Marseille.
England might not win the Euros but an exciting, rollercoaster of emotional journey to the Quarter-Finals certainly aren’t out of the equation.
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog