When Gareth Southgate was appointed as England manager, he talked about picking the best players in the best form, and his willingness to pick younger players when they were playing well brought the national team great success.
I wonder if we have gone away from that slightly?
He has picked the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who can’t get regular game time for Chelsea, Dele Alli and Eric Dier, who have both been injured recently, and Fabian Delph, who has hardly played for Manchester City and recently has started to look as if he might not be up to standard.
Callum Hudson-Odoi of England in action with during an England training session during an England Media Access day at St Georges Park on March 19, 2019 in Burton-upon-Trent, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
Is that because he wants to keep everyone together from the World Cup, or is it a more worrying trend that we have a smaller pool of players available. We’re having to call up players who have missed months or weeks due to injury or who aren’t playing for their clubs.
I know a lot of people get excited about these young players coming through and they may say that their lack of playing time for their club is not a good reason not to pick them given the potential they show but I think it’s a big reason. It’s a different kettle of fish playing for your country and sometimes players need more regular playing time with their clubs before they are ready.
With Hudson-Odoi, there have been glimpses to suggest he’s a talent but we haven’t seen him play regularly enough to find out if he can consistently show that talent. You can talk about what he has done with the England youth team but he hasn’t even played an U21 game and no-one really knows how his talent will show itself over a long period of time.
One other interesting point on these Chelsea players is, might this be construed as disrespectful to Maurizio Sarri? He is under pressure from the fans to play Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek and he is choosing not to, but now the England manager is calling them up.
England's midfielder Jadon Sancho (L) and England's midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi attend an England team training session at St George's Park in Burton-on-Trent, central England on March 21, 2019, ahead of their UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying football matches
Image credit: Getty Images
Personally I don’t think that Sancho has done enough to start for England in these games but I know Gareth Southgate will have watched him more than me and I trust his judgement. For me it was worrying the way he disappeared against Spurs.
He had a terrific first half, but then when Spurs came back into the game through their big players Sancho didn’t stand up for Dortmund. Of course he’s young, but he’s supposed to be a key player for them and he didn’t do enough for me. In my eyes there’s still more for him to do to justify his potential selection in the starting line-up.
WE MAY BE FOOLED BY SOCIAL MEDIA ON RICE
Is it a sign of the modern age perhaps that we see clips of these players without watching them for 90 minutes and quickly we can build up the idea in our heads that they deserve to be picked.
England manager Gareth Southgate has no intention of leaving his job
Image credit: PA Sport
Someone like James Ward-Prowse is a good example. He’s been playing well recently but just because he’s scored a couple of nice free-kicks there’s suddenly a clamour for him to be in the squad. I’m not saying he doesn’t necessarily deserve to be there but it’s interesting how these things can gain momentum.
By contrast, Declan Rice I feel has been brought in off the back of his performances. He has consistently been West Ham’s best player this season and he looks like one of the best holding midfielders England have right now.
He’s a much better player than Dier and on that note another player who I consider to be unlucky not to be in the squad is Harry Winks. I know he has an injury but it seems to be a normal thing now that we are calling up players with niggles just to have them involved in the squad. I believe Winks is a better player than Dier and at this moment in time he is far more important to Spurs.
I do also wonder why we call up so many full-backs. In the first squad you had Ben Chilwell, Danny Rose and Luke Shaw at left-back and then Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker at right-back.
Now obviously Alexander-Arnold and Shaw have both had to pull out but my issue is that none of these players except for Walker can play in another position. You’ve also got players like Delph, Michael Keane and Jordan Henderson in the initial squad who could cover if we suffered two injuries in the same position, which is always unlikely in an international break.