Roy Hodgson’s England squad has left many fans feeling underwhelmed. But really, Hodgson is only picking from what is available. This is not the most exciting pool of English talent that the country has ever produced. So it’s hard to see whom he could have picked that would have ignited the nation’s imagination.
Stewart Downing seems to have coped with a lot criticism for his inclusion in the squad. But with Walcott, Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain in the team, Downing offers some balance as he can play of the left side of midfield.
So with his squad already picked here is a look at eleven players, in a 4-3-3 formation, that may feel disappointed on missing a place in the Euro 2012 squad:
Scott Carson– Age: 26, Caps: 4. Club: Bursaspor (Turkey)
England has a problem when it comes to their goalkeeping depth. Both Paul Robinson and Ben Foster have made themselves unavailable for the England squad for their own reasons. Both would have been certain picks for the England squad, if available. However, Carson has been a regular for Bursapor, starting 32 matches and helping them to a mid table position. Still only 26 years old, he is yet to reach his full potential as a keeper. His potential inspired Liverpool to sign him in 2005.
At international level, Carson is best remembered for his role in England’s loss to Croatia in ’07 — a match that saw England fail to reach Euro 2008 and cost Steve McLaren his job. He was in the England squad for the friendly against Holland earlier this year.
Phil Jagielka- Age: 29, Caps: 10. Club: Everton
Jagielka will feel disappointed in missing out, especially considering he has featured in the England squad throughout the qualifying process (mainly as a substitute). With question marks over whether Hodgson would leave both Terry and Ferdinand at home, Jagielka may have been quietly confident of making the squad. He and Joleon Lescott formed a good understanding from their Everton days and that partnership may have been transferred to international level. Ultimately Terry was chosen. And Gary Cahill’s partnership with him at Chelsea may have been why he was picked ahead of Jagielka.
Rio Ferdinand– Age: 33, Caps: 81. Club: Manchester United
Rio Ferdinand has been the highest profile player to miss out. Hodgson claims he was left out purely for football reasons. However the issue of him playing with John Terry would also have played a minor role in his exclusion. John Terry is set to appear in court over allegations that he racially abused Rio’s younger brother Anton. His club manager Sir Alex has claimed that playing in the Euro’s may be beyond Ferdinand as his body may not hold up to rigors of playing two matches in four days. He has been struck down by a number of injuries in recent seasons. His failure to remain injury free is one of the reasons he lost the United captain role to Vidic.
Ryan Shawcross– Age: 24 , Caps: 0. Club: Stoke City
Now it may seem a no brainer to overlook a player who has never featured for England, but Shawcross is a good defender. He is the captain of Stoke City and has been a regular starter for his side in his five seasons at the club. Sir Alex Ferguson has gone on record saying that if he had known Pique wanted to leave the club, he would never had let Shawcross leave Manchester United. If you believe that, England cannot win Euro 2012 and that they should look to the next World Cup to include a player such as Shawcross.
Ferdinand and Terry are both in their 30’s and players like Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are still learning their trade. Shawcross has proven he can defend at the highest level as he faces many great players playing in the Premier League. Should he had made the squad, it would have been just rewards for a talented defender.
Micah Richards– Age: 23, Caps: 13. Club: Manchester City
The Manchester City right-back has just enjoyed a title winning season with the Citizens. However he did not feature in the team during the run-in for the title. Previous England manager Fabio Capello had his doubts about Richards as a defender and Roberto Mancini seems to share his fellow Italian’s views. They both seemed to be concerned about his discipline to his defensive duties as Richards does like to go forward to join in with the attack. The fact that Kyle Walker has been ruled out for Euro 2012 through injury will also add to the disappointment of missing out, especially when Glen Johnson makes the squad despite his criticism of Roy Hodgson’s tactics when he was manager of Liverpool.
Aaron Lennon– Age 25, Caps 18. Club Tottenham Hotspur
The Spurs winger has performed well when he played for his team, but has seen this season interrupted by injuries. In fact, Spurs’ performances appeared to dip when Lennon was out of the team. As with many players with his kind of pace, he suffered a hamstring injury in December and only managed to start 19 games for Tottenham, scoring three goals. With an England squad that already boasts Ashley Young, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, there was simply no room for Lennon. His style of play is also so similar to Walcott that taking both of them doesn’t make much sense. In the end, Lennon’s injuries and the form of fellow wingers never really saw him as a serious candidate for the England squad.
Adam Johnson– Age: 24 , Caps: 10. Club: Manchester City
An exciting attacking player who has been able to command a regular starting spot for Manchester City. He’s made 16 substitute appearances this season and only ten starts. He has been criticized in past by City manager Mancini, who has claimed that “he doesn’t put everything on the pitch.” He has also questioned his attitude, saying “Sometimes players like Adam play well in one game but so-so the next. He should not think: ‘I have scored a goal, this is enough'”
Despite being named to the back-up list for Euro 2012, his exclusion from the 23-man squad is similar to the reason Aaron Lennon was omitted — a lack of playing time and a number of other players in better form. There is also a question mark over his commitment to his defensive responsibilities and ability to stay in a structured formation. Hodgson likes his sides to have a defensive structure about them and thus requires his players to adhere to his team’s instructions.
Michael Carrick– Age: 30, Caps: 22. Club: Manchester United
The Manchester United midfielder has never been a regular starter for the national side despite being one of the constant names on the United team sheet. He started 27 matches for the Red Devils after originally being over looked at the start of the season. If there is a English player that you could compare to Xavi, Iniesta or Busquets in terms of ball retention and passing, then it would be Carrick.
However he is a victim of his own football intelligence in the fact that he is not seen as a traditional English midfielder in the mold of Gerrard and Lampard. Carrick is reported to have told Hodgson that he wasn’t interested in being involved in the England squad if he was only going to be a fringe player. An attitude that will not reflect well on him but one that is understandable. Especially when you consider how underused a player of his talent has been through out his England career.
Darren Bent– Age: 28 , Caps: 13. Club: Aston Villa
A striker who has scored goals wherever he has gone (although not so prolific at Spurs) misses out due to injuries. He has declared himself fully fit but has missed too much football in the final part of the season to be a serious contender for a striking position. Had he been fit all season, he may very well have been a certain pick for Euro 2012. He is a predator in the box, often lurking in the penalty area pouncing on any half chances that come his way.
His link-up play is not the best and he may very well have struggled if played up front by himself for England. Considering that Rooney will miss England’s first two matches, there would be no link between midfield and attack and Bent struggles when isolated up front. He is very much a striker in the mold of Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen who sat up front waiting for chances but doesn’t contribute much to the rest of play. So that coupled with his recent injuries sees him miss out on a spot in the England team.
Grant Holt– Age: 31, Caps: 0. Club: Norwich City
The Norwich striker finished the Premier League season with 15 goals, which saw him finish as the highest English goal scorer behind Wayne Rooney. He has never featured for the England team or even represented them at youth level. His lack of international experience has counted against him. There is also the stigma of playing with a so called ‘smaller club’ that doesn’t help his claims for an England spot. Question marks over whether he can score against the best international defenses are also a concern, but scoring in the Premier League is no easy feat. Even a talented striker like Torres has struggled in this league.
So to dismiss the achievement of scoring 15 goals in his first season in the Premier League would be insulting to Holt. He may wonder what else he could have done to get into the team. But with Carroll in the team, Hodgson may feel that he already has the physical presence that he wants from a striker.
Peter Crouch– Age: 31, Caps: 42. Club: Stoke City
Scoring 22 goals in 42 international matches is an impressive record no matter who you play for. Crouch scored 10 Premier League goals in his first season for Stoke, including a wonder strike against Manchester City. With Andy Carroll making the side, there would appear to only be room for one big striker. But you could argue that Crouch has performed better then Carroll this season, as the Liverpool striker has only managed four goals in 35 league appearances. Often used as an impact sub for England, he is the epitome of the term ‘good feet for a big man’. His footwork and link-up play is often overlooked for his obvious aerial threat. However Carroll has gotten the nod over him due to his late season form and his shear physical presence.
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