Roy Hodgson’s squad announcement for the upcoming international fixtures against San Marino and Montenegro has sprung debate as to his real ambitions in building towards the future of the national team.
With the likes of Rio Ferdinand who was originally selected, however now withdrawn due to fitness concerns, Leon Osman, Ashley Cole and Scott Parker who are all over the age of 31, are England really a team looking to improve? There is of course the case that we can’t have a complete team of prodigies and young players with the potential to do well, there must be more experienced professionals to help these players along the way and to offer that big stage knowledge , but that doesn’t mean they have to be nearing retirement.
When Hodgson took over as England manager he told fifa.com: "There's no doubt we're going to see a vast improvement over the coming ten years, and I think you see it already if you look at the young players that are coming through today.”
Hodgson has undoubtedly been more assertive in picking fresh faces, having selected 52 players since he become boss in May 2012. Since he was appointed he stated that he intends to use the friendly matches as a chance to blood in young players as he told The Telegraph he hoped they can: “start to put a few people under pressure”.
The players highlighted above are key examples of England stagnating and not establishing younger players in the team and planting the seeds for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Ashley Cole as reliable as he has been over his 100 cap duration for England should be replaced by Leighton Baines, 28. Baines has really proved in the past few years and especially this season that he deserves the England no.3 shirt. His displays have been sensational for Everton and his stats show that he’s one of the best full-backs in the world. Luke Shaw, 17, is a left-back with huge potential and has gained his plaudits after a fantastic debut season in the Premier League with Southampton. The likes of these players need to be selected, groomed and nurtured in order for us to have this fresh, youthful squad that Hodgson has been promoting since his appointment.
The argument is England do have a huge pool of fantastic young talent to choose from. Players with pace, flare, ability and more importantly no fear. Youngsters who haven’t played in the techy atmosphere that has surrounded the national team for the last decade because of the same old players not performing to the standards a footballing nation like ours expects.