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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Sturridge and Townsend calls deserved

Martin Laurence welcomes Daniel Sturridge and Andros Townsend's England call-ups but questions those of Ashley Young and Raheem Sterling.

Last Updated: 28/08/13 at 12:25 Post Comment

Daniel Sturridge: Started season in great form

Daniel Sturridge: Started season in great form

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During his time at Chelsea, Daniel Sturridge was considered, in the most part, to be something of a fringe player both at club and international level. His move to Liverpool in January and form for the Reds ever since suggests that he could be the answer to a fairly long-standing problem for the Three Lions.

While Wayne Rooney is undoubtedly England's first-choice forward, and rightly so, the side have lacked a top-quality number nine for years, with many agreeing that the United man's best position is in support of a central striker. Sturridge's sustained period of form since the turn of the year is becoming the best from an out-and-out English striker for some time now.

Since making the move to Anfield, the 23-year old has scored 12 goals in 16 league appearances, with only Christian Benteke and Robin van Persie scoring more, while only Gareth Bale and Sturridge's Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez have had more shots per game in the same timeframe (4.25).

Meanwhile, Sturridge ranks among the top 20 players in the calendar year in terms of both successful dribbles (1.75) and key passes (1.94) per game. The latter average is arguably the most encouraging, having developed his team play in a fluid attacking system. In 2013 he is the tenth best Premier League player according to the WhoScored ratings (7.61).

Andros Townsend is another player whose performances this year have been deserving of an England call-up with a successful loan move to QPR, despite their relegation, setting up a promising 2013/14 campaign.

Since January 1, no player has completed more dribbles per game in the top flight than the 22-year-old (4.08), while his average of three shots per game ranks among the league's top 20 in 2013, with both stats highlighting confidence in his own ability. An average WhoScored rating of 7.43 sees him rank 14th of all Premier League players since the turn of the year and fourth of all Englishmen.

The inclusion of Ross Barkley in England's squad for the upcoming qualifiers came as more of a shock, though the teenager has undoubtedly had an excellent start to the current campaign. Of the 42 players to attempt 30+ passes in the final third in the Premier League this season, Barkley has the best accuracy (91.5%) and he's clearly a player that is suited to Roberto Martinez's passing style.

He's another, like Townsend, who is not afraid to chance his arm - particularly from distance having scored a superb strike against Norwich - with only three players having more shots in the current season than the Everton man's nine.

After two games, his WhoScored rating of 7.82 is the best of all Englishman to have appeared in as many matches this season.

While many are praising Hodgson for his faith in the aforementioned trio, there are still some call-ups that have left many baffled. Between them, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Raheem Sterling have started just 12 Premier League games since the turn of the year, with the latter playing from kick-off just twice.

Their inclusion has seen a trio of players with an improving Villa side continue to be overlooked, with Fabian Delph (7.25), Matthew Lowton (7.24) and Gabby Agbonlahor (7.10) picking up the best WhoScored ratings of Englishman omitted from the squad.

Former Leeds youngster Delph is finally showing the promise that saw him tipped by many to have become an England international by now. The midfielder has made the sixth most tackles of players in his position in 2013 (56) and second most interceptions (70), whilst also ranking among the top 10 players in the league for successful dribbles since the turn of the year (35).

Meanwhile, team-mate Lowton is second in terms of interceptions in the league this calendar year (74) while Agbonlahor has eight goals to his name with a 21% chance conversion rate.

It's fair to say that while Hodgson has looked to the future with a number of his choices, a few of those can hardly be considered on form but seem more about the prestige of the clubs that they play for.

You can follow Martin on Twitter here.

All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.

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