Whenever Roy Hodgson names his squads, you look at the teams the players are from and it is always the same story: Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea. He never seems to choose the players who are in form, with regulars Rooney, Henderson and Wilshere called up even when they are not particularly playing well.
Hodgson often picks from the big teams, even if those players and teams are not at their best. When you look at who he could have called up through the years, there is a lot of talent that has been overlooked.
The likes of Aaron Cresswell at West Ham has been overlooked, with Hodgson preferring Gibbs, who is a non-starter for Arsenal. Similarly, Mark Noble has been consistently overlooked by Hodgson, even after a great season for West Ham last season and an even better one this term. He has missed out when Hodgson has preferred to call up “golden oldies” like Milner, Carrick, Wilshere among others. There have been too many occasions for England where the inform good players have not been given their chance when they deserve it.
You can understandt why a manager will want to call up the players he knows he gets on with and trusts the most, because he knows that the connection will be there, that he can have total control.
Considering that the inform team of November, when the last international call up happened, only had half of the players called up to the England squad, let alone make the first team, it highlights that perhaps the way national team is selected needs to change.
Leicester’s Marc Albrighton and Danny Drinkwater are in no way going to get a call up, despite being hugely important to Leicester’s title challenge this term. Although Jamie Vardy recently bucked the trend, Hodgson will not call up people he is unfamiliar with. Similarly Crystal Palace defender Scott Dann did not get an England call up, even when he was in the form of his life earlier in the campaign, with Hodgson instead preferring to call up Phil Jones who wasn’t in form, and John Stones, who isn’t playing consistently well.
You can guarantee come the summer, the same players will be called up, with Hodgson having a fear of calling up so-called unknowns. It sadly doesn’t seem to be just a Hodgson thing: we have seen this in the past with the likes of Robson and Hoddle being selective over who they call up.
Vardy and a few of the Southampton players have recently bucked this trend of England’s by earning call ups when they have been performing. But there is still a lot of talent being overlooked, which is ironic considering Hodgson often insists there is not enough English talent available to him at the moment.
In reality, had Noble or Cresswell moved to a team like Manchester City, Manchester United or Liverpool, would they have got more starts? Quite possibly, which highlights just how wrong this player picking system is.