Nathan Redmond’s exclusion from the England squad has not ruffled as many feathers as it should have done. His talent was consistently overlooked whilst he was a Norwich player, and his form is now being underplayed at Southampton. At the Canaries, Redmond was victim of playing for a supposedly ‘unfashionable’ team. He was not worthy of full England recognition at this point, but seldom was he even talked about in the same vein as players inferior to him.
Now a Saint, Redmond perhaps has suffered for a couple of poor recent league performances. Andros Townsend continues to be selected, for instance, as a result of his England form rather than anything at club level. Similarly to Redmond, Wilfried Zaha – Townsend’s teammate – will be wondering why he cannot earn a place in the squad. England’s team has never been a meritocracy, but claims from successive managers that they would try to right this significant wrong have never come to fruition.
Jesse Lingard, like Townsend, seems to have earned his inclusion from satisfactory England displays. Having been in and out of the Manchester United team, his selection is fortuitous and an indictment of England’s failings. Jamie Vardy, too, has done nothing in the 2016/17 Premier League campaign to warrant selection, yet his name was always going to be on the list. Redmond has, despite his own inconsistencies, outperformed each of Lingard, Townsend and Vardy this season.
It can be argued that Redmond has not done enough to make himself a guaranteed selection. Players, however, should not need the momentum of a media bandwagon or to be in the form of their life to warrant England selection. The simple truth in Redmond’s case is that he is, both on form and talent, one of the three best English wingers playing regularly at the moment. Despite playing centrally for Southampton, he would be a wide man for England and that is an area this England generation are weak in.
Maybe his role centrally with Southampton has deterred the England decision makers from picking him solely as a winger. If so, that would be a misjudgement and unfair on Redmond’s ability. Aside from the fact that he merits inclusion on his performances and potential alone, these two fixtures are the ideal opportunity for any England player to gain experience and be tested in games that will present markedly different challenges. Not picking Redmond means Southgate loses options in the short term, and the chance to give the Saints forward experience for the long term.
Southampton’s continued excellence in the transfer market is not reflected better than by their acquisition of Redmond. Having been a talented young player at Norwich, Redmond has stepped up as an integral part of Claude Puel’s side. It was a surprise that so few Premier League clubs had shown an interest in the pacey forward previously, particularly considering his consistent level of performances for England’s under-21s. Those displays mean that Gareth Southgate should be fully aware of his capabilities. Redmond’s exclusion shows England’s failure and Southampton’s accomplishments in equal measure, Puel will be pleased a key player will have some rest, but Southgate may rue not giving Redmond some valuable international experience.