Here we go again, the International break is upon us and as we reach the climax of the domestic seasons in England, plus with the way the Premier League top four and relegation races are shaping up, I’m sure International football isn’t at the forefront of most people’s mind.
Thursday hosted the announcement of England’s squad for their qualifier against Lithuania and friendly against Italy later this month. Only one new senior debut arose and I bet you can all guess who. Rightly so, Harry Kane finds himself in the mix for England and his fine form and consistent media attention has paid off, having notched 16 goals in the league and 26 in all competitions for Spurs. Kane is the sole bright spark from Thursday’s news, but the rest are all essentially expected.
Given how easy England’s Euro 2016 qualifying group is, it was bound to provoke questions about why certain names have been left out of the squad, as it already has. Here are a few who immediately made headlines following their absence and others who should have been offered the chance.
The Burnley frontman has been in exceptionally form for the Clarets for two seasons running, having followed up his tremendous Championship campaign in the 2013/14 season with a critic-defying season in the Premier League this time round. Ings was the ideal man to replace former star Charlie Austin after his move to QPR from East Lancashire and the two strikers are so alike it’s unreal. With nine goals to his name this campaign, Burnley may just be thanking Ings if he helps them to survive the drop. A move this Summer could be on the cards as Liverpool and Tottenham were heavily linked with him in January.
There are up to five forwards who could have easily made this England squad given the fixtures and, joint with Kane, Berahino tops the list. The West Brom forward has been excellent for the Baggies and has shown his maturity when linked with a move to Liverpool and Spurs in January. After suffering a brief dip in form during the month, he managed to keep bagging the goals and is seemingly enjoying himself in the West Midlands despite claiming that he wanted to move to a bigger side. It proved that he’s not one to kick his toys out of the pram, and the guidance of Tony Pulis can only be a good thing for him.
One positive aspect of Everton’s dreadful season so far is that their squad is mostly made up of home nation players and their entire back four are (or can be) English with the introduction of Luke Garbutt – he also could have made the list. Fellow centre-back Phil Jagielka has been selected but for me he has looked shaky and lacking a bit of confidence, whereas John Stones has made the big step up after his transfer from Barnsley and has looked the most composed defender among a delicate Toffee’s defence this season. Stones has made four England appearances in the past, it isn’t as if he is untested in Hodgson’s set-up, so I can’t understand the reasoning behind his absence in favour of Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines.
“What?!” you exclaim as you Wikipedia him. England are in desperate need of a central play-maker who is playing consistently season-in, season-out and the one who has been selected has barely come up with the goods at Everton so far. I was livid when I saw Ross Barkley had made the squad. Understandably, Barkley has been on the end of a couple of knee injuries and hasn’t been fit to play for parts of the season, but I can’t grasp the hype around him at all. Patrick Bamford, on the other hand, has been brilliant in the Championship for the last 18 months now. No matter whether it was at MK Dons, Derby or Middlesbrough, he has been a delight to watch. With 14 goals to his name so far, he’s worth a try for England at senior level given the rest of England’s playmakers are mostly wide-men.
Others who should have made it:
– Jason Shackell (Burnley)
– Danny Rose (Tottenham)
– George Friend (Middlesbrough)
– James Tomkins (West Ham)
– Luke Garbutt (Everton)
– Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth)
– Charlie Austin (QPR)
– Troy Deeney (Watford)
I don’t speak for every one, but there are a growing number of football fans in England who are caring less and less about the English national team for numerous reasons. One must certainly be the tedious selections of ‘big names’ in the side when sometimes they don’t deserve a place. Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka, Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck are suitable examples of this – none of them have really merited a spot in the squad based on their performances this season, but they play for big clubs, so you do the math.
It was a pleasant sight to see Harry Kane make the squad, but given the level of Lithuania and the fact that Italy is simply a friendly, it would have been refreshing to see Roy Hodgson give some new names a chance on the International stage, where the pressure wasn’t too heavy. In all likelihood, a lot more people would have taken well to a squad shake-up and this was an ideal opportunity to renew interest and show some ambition to the English faithful – chance wasted.