So today Roy Hodgson announced his England squad for the upcoming friendlies which should provide an indication for selections over the not-too-distant World Cup Qualifiers against Moldova, Ukraine, Montenegro and Poland. The squad announced today was as follows:
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Alex McCarthy.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Phil Jones, Joleon Lescott, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott.
Forwards: Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck
In this squad there were not too many surprises but the reaction to one or two of the players being chosen did surprise me. This squad will be missing two important figures to that team. They are Jack Wilshere and Steven Gerrard who will both be missing these friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Brazil through injury. Jack Wilshere will be undergoing another ankle operation as Steven Gerrard will be having surgery on his shoulder. Personally I am disappointed more about Wilshere then Gerrard being injured. I believe that Wilshere in years to come will be a crucial cog in the England set up as Gerrard who is now 32 is entering the last few years of his England career. This is not to say that he cannot still do a job for but uncertainty lurks over whether him and Frank Lampard will feature in Brazil next year.
The main talking point of this announced England squad is the surprise inclusion of Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy,23, who could play a part in one of the friendlies. Although with the inclusion of Joe Hart and Ben Foster the chances of McCarthy getting a game are unlikely. Although McCarthy has had a mixed season being involved in a scrap for the Reading number one shirt along with Adam Fedderici and has managed 13 appearences this season for the Royals. When given his chance though the young keeper has made some outstanding contributions to Reading's season and emerges as a real positive for Reading fans despite relegation.
Another choice that not for the first time grabbed controversy was the selection of West Ham loanee Andy Carroll who has scored 7 goals in 23 appearances since his loan move from Liverpool. It is worth noting though that Carroll has had more then his fair share of injuries this season and will be returning to Merseyside in hope of proving to Brendan Rodgers that he deserves a place in that Anfield front-line. What better way to make a statement then bagging a goal or two whilst on England duty! However it is the same old boring debate that occurs everytime he is selected for England. Have a look at the twitter comments below to see what I mean...
Parsa - "Andy Carroll being recalled to the England squad is exactly why English football won't move forward under Hodgson"
Tom - "Why are we recalling Andy Carroll? So many better players who can play football out there! This is why I hate watching England"
Wes - "Carroll!? Really Hodgson? England are looking like the Stoke of International football. #hoofball"
So judging by all these tweets people are still not comfortable with the inclusion of Andy Carroll. Personally I believe these tweets are incredibly harsh. Andy Carroll has proved that he can play the game with good intelligent runs, awareness and good link up play which are just a few of the qualities which are needed to make a good striker. I can though understand peoples frustration with the possibility of the long ball game but it is effective. I mean over 70% of his goals this season have been either headers or volleys. So really I believe that it comes down to this... Would England fans rather do well in International Competitions by playing unattractive football? OR Would they rather bow out of many European competitions trying to play attractive football?
The English game is changing for the better with the introduction of the ever growing game of Futsal in this country and new philosophy's being enforced on English football to ensure that youngsters are making the most of the talent that they have. Similar to what Spain, Germany and Netherlands have/are doing throughout their youth systems. There is no doubt that English football will be more attractive in years to come. Does this country have the patience? Nobody knows. However until this country starts to produce more young talent then the prospect of having to play un-attractive football could seem realistic.
So the inclusion of Andy Carroll came as no big surprise to me. I can particularly envisage him being used as a substitute in games. The 6ft3 centre forward is powerful in the air and will pose a threat from free kicks especially late on in game when minds begin to tire and defenders concentration levels are starting to decrease. He will have competition though as Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck have also been included in the squad. I'm sure that there will be a place for Big Andy though in one of the two friendlies.
The squad overall though does look moderately balanced in terms of youth and experience. However I would like tto have to seen the inclusion of a couple more youngsters in the squad such as Jordan Henderson, Callum McManaman, Steven Caulker and Kieran Gibbs who would have had the perfect opportunity to make a statement ahead of Rio De Janiero next year. The inclusion of Frank Lampard is a interesting one after just lifting the Europa League with Chelsea and putting pen to paper with a new contract. He is another one who's involvement in the World Cup next year could be a interesting one as he will be 35 next year. Will he be able to handle 3 games in a week? Not sure. The team though I think will be centred around Wayne Rooney who should be in his prime next year at the age of 28. It may well be his last chance to prove his worth on the International stage. Getting Wayne Rooney in top form will be a major plus for Roy Hodgson going into the World Cup next year. There will be places up for grabs in that England squad but after these friendlies we may have a slightly clearer idea of who may be partying in Rio De Jiniro and who will be partying in Stevenage.
Posted by Chip