With a potential squad for Euro 2016 positively dripping with young, in-form players, supporting England suddenly feels a bit weird. Comparing the current squad to the ones picked in March and June 2015, who has fallen by the wayside? Injury cannot be the primary reason (so no Jack Wilshere, Danny Ings, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Phil Jones).
“I spoke to Roy Hodgson and it’s fair enough,” Carrick said earlier this week. “He gave me his reasons and stuff and what he wanted to do, so that is fine. But it’s the same for everyone not in the squad. A lot can change between now and the summer. There are some big games and you have got to be consistent, so that is how it goes.”
We don’t want to dampen Carrick’s spirits, but his race looks run. There may have been times when the Manchester United midfielder was unfairly ignored by international managers, but Euro 2016 is a tournament during which England can plan for the future. Is there any point having a player who will turn 35 before next season starts?
As it is, Carrick should concentrate on staying at Old Trafford. His 12 competitive international appearances may be painfully few in the eyes of his supporters, but it’s unlikely to improve now.
We pleaded. We insisted. We reasoned. We begged. We urged. We finally got our wish.
It took far longer than we thought for Hodgson to finally lose patience with Townsend and his famous repertoire of run down the wing, dip the shoulder, cut inside, give the ballboy behind the goal a job to do. There is no doubt that the winger’s displays helped England over the line in qualification for the 2014 World Cup, it’s just that there had been so precious little since, either for country or club.
Having started for England in June 2015, and appeared as recently as October against Lithuania, it looks like Hodgson has finally bit the bullet. You suspect it will be a lot harder for Townsend to get back into England’s squad than it was to stay there.
Poor Baines, a man screwed over by coincidence and time. First he was forced to play second fiddle behind arguably England’s greatest ever left-back, then saw bright young pup Luke Shaw steam up on the inside, then got injured.
Even with Shaw seriously crocked and Baines recovered from his own injury, Hodgson seems to have moved on from a 31-year-old left-back, and you can see why. Baines now plays in the position for which England have the most appetising options: Shaw, Ryan Bertrand, Danny Rose, Aaron Cresswell.
The valid question now is whether Baines ever plays for England again? Had he been 22 now he might have amassed 60-70 caps. As it is, he’s stuck on 30 (of which only 13 have been in competitive matches).
‘Is there a more nothing-y players than Kieran Gibbs?’ asked one slightly mean Mailboxer on Thursday morning, but they did have a point. The last year has not been kind to Arsenal’s left-back.
It started with losing his place at club level to Nacho Monreal, Gibbs starting just four league games last season after January 1. His international decline actually took far longer to kick in, Gibbs starting England’s last game against France in November. Now, he’s not even in the squad despite Baines’ absence. Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand have got the nod.
Gibbs probably has bigger fish to fry than worrying about spending the summer in France. It looks likely that Arsenal will sell him; he’s unlikely to take a step up.
The Jamie Vardy of 2014/15? Having scored 18 league goals for QPR last season, Austin received his first call-up to the England squad in May 2015 after clamours from the media that they could not ignore such an in-form striker.
Unfortunately, call-up did not mean debut, with Austin ignored for the matches against Ireland and Slovenia. He promptly failed to leave QPR over the summer, was injured for part of the Championship season and was therefore overtaken by other strikers.
“England aren’t blessed with a huge array of strikers to pick from and I still think he’s got every chance to get to the Euros,” said Eddie Howe last month. “So the end of the season’s going to be important for him. It could possibly turn out to be a timely move. From his perspective he’s got to stay fit and bang some goals in.”
Austin has scored once since his move to Southampton. Glimmer of hope, gone.
“No – it’s not something I’ll be looking towards [chances of making Euro 2016 squad],” said Green in December. “I’ve done the third choice thing for 11/12 years with England. I’ve got two young children and the hardest part of the summer just gone was leaving them without a holiday for me to go on international duty. If that happens again this year with my eldest starting school, I’ve got no chance going away with my family and I think that’s important.”
Those quotes immediately provoke three reactions:
1) Is family less important if you were England No. 1?
2) Very honest of Green to say that he’s not aiming for Euro 2016. He’s not played since January 1 so that QPR don’t have to offer him a new deal, which he must have known was coming.
3) Green was in the England squad last June?!