West Ham fans and neutrals nationwide are left wondering what it takes for a player to get in the England squad nowadays. When the latest selection was announced, players such as Theo Walcott, Phil Jagielka, Raheem Sterling and more were all called up even though their club form hadn’t been setting the world alight.
For West Ham, currently fifth in the Premier League and one point off a Champions League spot, you would have thought that any English player within their squad would make the cut for two friendly games. It just makes sense, right?
However for Roy Hodgson – a former Fulham, Liverpool and Blackburn boss – overlooked ALL of them.
West Ham currently have genuinely talented Englishmen amongst their ranks: Aaron Cresswell, who should be fighting for a spot at left back, Michael Antonio, the sort of a winger England seriously need, and even Andy Carroll, Reece Oxford, James Tomkins and Sam Byram could all be considered. But no exclusion has polarised opinion quite like that of Mr. West Ham himself, Mark Noble.
The Hammers midfielder has always given his all for the club, and at the age of 28 is about to hit his peak. This season he has been one of the league’s best centre mids, with three goals and four assists in 29 games. He has been the level-headed character every team needs when the match requires steadying, and has been a calming influence in an exciting, inexperienced Irons unit.
But somehow Hodgson consistently overlooks the star, which is bizarre when considering England need quality in the middle of the pitch. Players such as Jack Wilshere, who is constantly injured, Jordan Henderson, who has been poor, and even the likes of Ryan Mason, Jonjo Shelvey, Michael Carrick, Fabian Delph and James Milner are being called up when their club form is inconsistent at best. Noble has been patient for an England call-up, turning down the approaches of the Republic of Ireland in order to stay true to his country.
Though Roy broke his ‘big club mentality’ label by calling up Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater, you can tell he did it to try and silence the critics. But players such as Noble are the ones truly missing out: they work hard to get a call-up and recognition, but don’t make the grade.
It’s not like he hasn’t been part of the England set up before: Noble captained the England U-18 team, played for the U-19 team and featured for the U-21s, too. In fact Noble took the u21’s to the final of the 2009 European Championship, only to lose 4-0 to Germany. He is a player who has already shown his dedication to England, and really should be given more of a chance.
Whether this means that Hodgson has to go or not is yet to be seen – or maybe the whole FA need to be completely restructured or changed. But this ‘big club mentality’ is not fair, and will stop players from wanting to play for their country, if they know that playing well doesn’t win them a place.