Everton's Jack Rodwell admits frustration after stop-start season

14 June 2011 06:55
ShareThe mixed zone immediately after an important game is not normally a place where you find footballers offering full and frank appraisals of their form. In the aftermath of England's plucky 1-1 draw with Spain on Sunday night, though, Jack Rodwell broke with convention. 

Rather than offering a few anodyne sound bites, the Everton midfielder provided an insight into the journey he has been on during the past 12 months. 

'I'll only look back on last season with a sense of frustration,' he said. 'The couple of seasons before that, I had felt as if I had done really well. I'd played in a lot of games and I had tended to play in age groups ahead of the ones I was in. It's been a fast progression.

On the ball: Jack Rodwell (centre) in action for England Under 21s against Spain on Sunday

'But last season, I just stopped still because of one thing and another. When I have been out of the team, I haven't been able to get back in. I just hope it's finally behind me now and I am looking forward to next season already.'

That is no surprise. Everton, after all, went into the 2010/11 campaign with high hopes and it was anticipated that Rodwell, a midfielder with elegance and power, would be central to leading a charge for a Champions League spot.

Instead, the reality was different. While Everton's hopes were compromised by a fatally slow start, Rodwell found himself spending more time on the treatment table than the pitch. A serious ankle problem set him back in September. Groin and hamstring injuries would follow.

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When he did make it in to the starting line-up, Rodwell looked a shadow of the player who had rampaged through Manchester United's defence to score a fabulous goal in a thrilling 3-1 Everton win in February 2010, prompting Sir Alex Ferguson to place him high on his wanted list.

Rodwell failed to stamp his authority on games and appeared to have lost his sense of adventure, with his passing too conservative. Some suggested he was simply too nice, that he lacked the devilment and bite to mix it in such an unforgiving arena.

Help, though, has been at hand. Everton captain Phil Neville and England central defender Phil Jagielka are two senior professionals who have never failed to offer advice and guidance, coaxing him through the dip in fortunes.

The Blues: Rodwell admits it was a tough season

'I'm a strong person and I can motivate myself to keep focused when I'm not in the team,' explained Rodwell, whosays it has been 'quite easy' to ignore the speculation of being linkedwith moves to Manchester City and Tottenham.

'There are a lot of senior pros to look up to. Phil Neville has been great in terms of the pointers he has given me. He's told me what to do and when to do it when I have been injured, how to deal with any frustrations I have had when I have not been picked.'

Which is why he was able to easily put the disappointment of not making Stuart Pearce's starting line-up in Herning on Sunday to one side, coming on midway through the second period to play a role in England's last-gasp comeback.

England certainly looked a far more assured side when Rodwell traded places with Michael Mancienne and he has now provided Pearce with a selection poser ahead of the crucial game against Ukraine on Wednesday.  

'I really enjoyed it,' said Rodwell. 'It's been a tough year and I haven't played a lot for the Under 21s. The others have played close to 10 games but I've only played one or two. I was disappointed not to start but I'm sure everyone else was too.

'I felt good when I came one. I finally feel fresh. I've shaken off a lot of injuries this season but I feel good now, mentally and physically. It's not for me to say whether I will get in (against Ukraine) but I always want to play so let's hope so, fingers crossed.'

Whoever plays in this pivotal fixture knows improvement is necessary from the opening collision with the Spaniards. Danny Welbeck's goal may have worked wonders for camaraderie but it did not mask the fact England need to play with greater fluency in order to make it out of Group B.

You're alright, Jack: The young star made a name for himself with a stunning goal against United

'It would have been difficult had we lost knowing that we would probably have needed to beat the Czechs in the last game to go through,' said Rodwell. 'That was the case with a couple of minutes to go but the goal has created a lot of team spirit. We are all buzzing. We all know we can dig deep.

'There were times when they kept possession that bit more and controlled it but I'd say we are capable of doing that in the next game. That is what we are going to try to do against Ukraine. We are one of the better teams in the tournament and we will get better.'

 Rodwell on radar for London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham as United and City also lurkEngland Under 21 star Walker looking to impress Capello in DenmarkSir Alex gets his man as Manchester United confirm Jones' move from BlackburnNo bids for Connor! Ipswich boss Jewell plays down Wickham exit talkMartin Keown: How United and Liverpool's new signings fared on U21 dutySpain U21 1 England U21 1: Welbeck levels late after low blow from Spaniard 

 Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Phil Jagielka, Phil Neville, Stuart Pearce, Danny Welbeck Places: Spain, United Kingdom

Source: Daily_Mail

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
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