Gareth Southgate’s England squad has raised a few eyebrows with some of his picks. Most notably, a 34-year-old Jermaine Defoe, Nathan Redmond, Jake Livermore and James Ward-Prowse.
In turn, Jermaine Defoe has been well established this season to have won a lot of points for Sunderland. He is showing that he still has the pace that other players tend to lose with age. Nathan Redmond had a very bright start to the season with Southampton, and with James Ward-Prowse they made a combined 60 appearances for England U21 side. It seems logical for these two to be in the squad. Jake Livermore, part of the England one-cap club has been one of Hull’s best players this season and fully justifies his £10m transfer fee to West Brom.
Considered in isolation, these players have all made a good contribution to their Premier League sides this season. But the most important sign of a good England squad is whether there are other players who should be involved that have missed out. If there are no players that a reasonable argument could be made they should be in the squad, then Southgate has done the right thing.
Injuries have certainly affected the squad, with Danny Rose and Harry Kane the most notable absentees who would have certainly otherwise been involved. And obviously, no case can be made for long term absentees Jordan Henderson or Daniel Sturridge. Theo Walcott certainly has an argument to be included, and Jack Wilshere has played a lot of minutes this season. Wilshere rarely lets the England side down despite indifferent club form, and only missed one game against Man Utd since his Bournemouth debut against Leicester. Of course, this doesn’t include the two games against Arsenal which he’s ineligible for.
The manager also had a big decision with Wayne Rooney. He could have included him, which would have avoided all of the spotlight, but has the easy get-out card of Rooney’s lack of gametime for Manchester United. And a mixture of injuries and not being first choice means that he has only played 183 Premier League minutes, as well as not being involved in the League Cup final or the big FA Cup tie with Chelsea. It seems illogical to involve Wayne Rooney in this squad.
So, all in all, I would argue Jack Wilshere should be in the squad, but otherwise I think Southgate has the right squad. Hopefully a positive result against Germany can instill some belief.
By Anthony Kendrick.
Follow Ant on Twitter: @ant_kendrick