The inclusion of Cardiff City striker Jay Bothroyd in the England squad may have come as a shock to many, including yours truly. But what I found truly shocking was that the dearth of English striking talent in the Premier League is so evident, Fabio Capello had to go into the second tier of English football to complete his squad.
Now I mean no disrespect to the Football League, but when choosing a national team, especially one of England’s respective calibre, you would tend to seek out your players from the upper echelons of the ‘Premier’ (hence the name) League in your country, and if they were unavailable, then you should look to the middle and lower sections of the table to find suitable replacements. Capello clearly saw no fit replacements in these clubs. So much so, that he felt it imperative to continue his search at the top of the Championship.
With the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent out injured, Capello has had his hands tied somewhat over the issue of strikers for the friendly against France, but what does the inclusion of Bothroyd say to the likes of Kevin Davies and Carlton Cole (even if Cole has since been called up to the squad as a ‘replacement’)?
What it says is that they are not good enough, and neither are any of the other English striking options in the Premier League. With their new squad rules, the FA are trying to get more English talent through the ranks at club level in the Premier League, but with the inclusion of Bothroyd in the squad, can these new rules be seen as closing the gate after the horse has bolted?
We have of course seen the Football League represented before in the recent past when Preston North End striker David Nugent was included in Steve McLaren’s squad to face Andorra in March 2007. At the time this decision seemed more like McLaren was giving lip service to the lower leagues rather than anything else, but Capello’s inclusion of Bothroyd seems slightly more serious.
I realise the France game is only a friendly and it is only fair to give in-form strikers the opportunity to shine whether they ply their trade in the Premier League or elsewhere, but Capello’s move to include Bothroyd in his squad is a damning indictment of the English strikers available to him in our nation’s top league. What also remains to be seen is whether the Kevin Davies’ of this world will see Bothroyd’s inclusion as an incentive, or an insult.