Guest blogger: Chris Winterburn
Yesterday Roy Hodgson announced his England squad ahead of the two friendlies against Chile and Germany and there were a number of surprises, not least the inclusion of the Southampton trio made up of Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana.
The inclusion of both Lallana and Rodriguez is pleasing in two ways, one because it shows that players who are performing well in the Premier League are definitely being considered for the national squad and secondly it shows the continued effort made by Roy Hodgson to blood through the next generation of national football talent in preparation for future endeavours.
Roy Hodgson confirmed Joe Hart remains his first choice goalkeeper despite being dropped by his club side following a number of individual errors and Celtic’s Fraser Forster despite his excellent form both domestically and on the continent for Celtic looks set to continue as Joe Hart’s deputy for the two upcoming friendlies.
However it would not at all be a surprise to me if we see Joe Hart start one of the friendlies and Fraser Forster start the other, merely just to give Forster a game at international level as well as Roy Hodgson getting a chance to look at Forster’s performance first hand which may well be a factor closer to the World Cup should Hart not regain his place in Pellegrini’s Manchester City side.
There is little to no surprises in Roy Hodgson’s defence with Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole and Phil Jagielka being the most experienced members of the backline. Glen Johnson returns to the international setup after missing a period of the season with injuries and most recently illness and it is expected the Liverpool full-back will be given the nod ahead of Tottenham’s Kyle Walker for the upcoming friendlies. Walker has his critics, but what isn’t up for debate is that he is currently a linchpin in one of the Barclays Premier League’s best defenses this season.
Once again Roy Hodgson continues his impressive policy of selecting a number of younger players to feature in his defence with Manchester United duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both receiving consecutive call-ups. Kieran Gibbs’ recent run of fine form for Arsenal has seen the twenty four year old full-back earning a call up to the England squad however with both Baines and Cole in the same squad it is unclear how much game time Gibbs will receive.
Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend earn another place within the national squad courtesy of their performances for both Everton and Spurs respectively as well as their form for England during the last international break. Townsend will likely feature in both matches from the start but I would be surprised if he played in any full England football games considering the matches are friendlies and the Premier League schedule is just on the cusp of becoming hectic ahead of the winter period.
Adam Lallana fully deserves his place in the England squad and at twenty five years old it does seem as if he should have already earned his first senior cap by now, the midfielder’s impressive performances for Southampton have been one of the catalyst factors of the Saints’ rise to the higher echelons of the Premier League and Lallana is even keeping the extremely talented Gaston Ramirez out of Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection on a weekly basis.
Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard make up the experienced side of the England midfield although there has been some controversy regarding the selection of Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley who has not enjoyed a brilliant start to the season by any stretch of the imagination. The call-up is rather more surprising when you consider that Cleverley missed the majority of the late September to late October period. Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson after a strong start to the campaign for the Anfield club has earned a recall to the national fold.
The forward department has all the usual names, i.e. Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck however there is continuity in the sense Daniel Sturridge continues to be part of the squad, as does Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez looks set to earn his first senior cap.
Rodriguez after a strong run of performances for Southampton has more than earned this call-up to Roy Hodgson’s side and it is pleasing to see a young twenty four year old getting his chance at the top level, particularly in the case of Lallana and Rodriguez who have both plied their trade at a lower level with Southampton and Burnley respectively. Spurs ‘back up’ man Jermain Defoe could be Roy’s ace in the hole. Despite having fallen down the pecking order at White Hart Lane, he remains a gifted striker, and at 31, this will has to be his last shot at a World Cup.
With the demands of Premier League managers to not overuse their players during the international break we may well see a lot of the players in the squad get valuable game time whilst the more established names will play bit parts.
This is a run through of the full England squad for the friendlies against Chile and Germany:
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster, Joe Hart, John Ruddy
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker
Midfielders: Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere
Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Rickie Lambert, Jay Rodriguez, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck