Fresh from comfortably beating European minnows Lithuania 4-0 in their last competitive outing, Roy Hodgson’s England national team will seemingly go into their next match – a pretty meaningless friendly with the much more formidable Italy – in high spirits and full of confidence.
Harry Kane is already off the mark in the senior Three Lions shirt, Hodgson’s defence proved resolute enough last week, and although up to four payers could be reportedly ruled out of the remaining international fixture, everything else is looking pretty positive from an English perspective.
That said however, did Roy Hodgson really make the right calls in his recent squad selection, or has the former Fulham and Liverpool boss in-fact overlooked some potentially exciting players throughout the course of this domestic break? The wider footballing community seems to think he has…
Although England saw off their latest opponents Lithania in a very one-sided 4-0 victory, this was a match that should have always come as an inevitable win for this current batch of international stars. Lithuania simply don’t have a great deal to offer in today’s modern footballing climate.
In that sense this game was all about the performance then, and for all the fans that made the trip to Wembley last week to see out this somewhat unwanted Euro 2016 qualifier, the majority of England supporters would have largely left the stadium happy enough with what they saw. Roy Hodgson’s side were pretty convincing after all, even if Lithuania didn’t exactly put up much of a fight.
Yet even with that in mind, it must be said that the former Hawthorns manager simply isn’t picking players solely on their current form. Despite the apparent positivity surrounding England at the moment, some truly surprising names were included in this latest international squad, with some even more surprising ones left at home to watch the match on television.
The inclusion of Harry Kane may have been all well and good, but why QPR’s Charlie Austin was unceremoniously left out is anyone’s guess. He only has four less Premier League goals than the current Tottenham hot-shot, which is mightily impressive considering the fact that Austin is playing for a side constantly on the brink of the dreaded relegation zone.
Saido Berahino and Danny Ings could have also been given some valuable game-time, particularly in place of Danny Welbeck who remains probably the most overrated name of this current bunch – despite his obvious work ethic out on the pitch.
There were also some surprising inclusions throughout the rest of the squad, with West Ham particularly feeling the brunt of Roy Hodgson’s rejection. Three of Big Sam’s main men this season – Mark Noble, Aaron Cresswell and perhaps even Carl Jenkinson – could have easily been given a chance this time round, especially as the likes of Kieran Gibbs and Luke Shaw really haven’t warranted their almost guaranteed places with their indifferent form this season.
If the current England boss really thinks that Aaron Cresswell has been the fifth best home-grown left-back this term – behind Leighton Baines, Kieran Gibbs, Luke Shaw and Ryan Bertrand – then maybe Roy has been watching a different 2014/15 campaign to the rest of us.
Even though England certainly look well placed in the qualifying stages at the minute, these are games that should be won regardless of any external circumstances. It will be in the actual Euro 2016 tournament itself where this current batch of stars meet their true test – and as Roy Hodgson simply hasn’t proved worthy of coming close to winning any silverware in his last two major outings with the national side – it’s hard to image anything changing if he continues to pick players based on reputation rather than form.