In this country, everyone seems to get very excited when an Englishman starts to score goals on a regular basis.
Although this is perfectly understandable, the recent calls for Austin, Ings and Carroll to represent England may be slightly premature.
It prompts the debate of whether handing out England caps too quickly, especially to strikers, works against the national team. For example, the likes of David Nugent, Jay Bothroyd and Bobby Zamora have all represented England, albeit very briefly, at some point. All three of these players enjoyed purple patches in their career and it was enough to earn them a call-up to the England side. Although some may argue that they merited their inclusion in the squad, is it also fair to say that they got their opportunity far too easily?
Recently, the whole idea of the national team has been shrouded in doubt and disappointment. Is it still an honour to represent your country or will some players actively avoid international duty so that they don’t get injured? Players should not be handed international caps until they have worked their socks off to prove to the manager that they desperately want to play for England. Already, there is talk of Danny Ings representing England. The young forward is undoubtedly talented but he’s only been playing Premier League football for a matter of months. The same applies to Charlie Austin. Although the Queens Park Rangers striker has been in excellent form this season, including him in an England squad may be a bit premature. Surely he should be encouraged to keep producing at the highest level, working hard to earn a call-up.
Nowadays, a call-up is presented as some sort of a trial similar to the one you’d go to as a kid where you’d try desperately hard to impress the manager. This is the wrong way for the national team to be conducted. If a person receives a call-up, they should easily be good enough to walk into the national side. Time and time again England are too quick to offer call-ups to players who can’t make the jump to international level or are simply not ready. The biggest mistake is in younger players. A call-up needs to be a very exact judgement not just based on ability but character and hunger as well. There are probably a number of young players in the England squad who got called up too early and in their minds, they think they have made it. They can then lose motivation and this presents the national team in a bad light.
In terms of Andy Carroll, a similar problem lies with his England involvement. The former Newcastle man has appeared seven times this season and he’s already being uttered in the same sentence as England. Although Carroll can easily become a good international player, it’s completely unfair to mention him in an England bracket as the West Ham man has only just returned from injury. It adds unnecessary expectation and can cause a player to lose focus. Right now, Andy Carroll just wants to return to Premier League football and encouraging involvement with England is naïve and represents exactly why the national team has struggled in recent memory.
To be fair to Hodgson, he does take a cautious approach when introducing younger players to the England set-up. Barkley will be an excellent England international in the future but he can’t be thrown into the deep end straight away, it’s important to nurture talent rather than waste it like some sort of disappointing party cracker. Overall, the England national team needs to be sensible from now on; it can’t rely on domestic form forever as players will be in and out of the side constantly. The key is getting the balance between overall class and form; players need to prove over an extended period of time that they are good enough for England. In the long run, the England national team will reap the rewards but if we push the likes of Ings, Carroll and Austin into an England squad far too quickly, it will ultimately backfire.