A disclaimer before we start-I am a Sunderland fan, I am biased.
Roy Hodgson has announced his squad of thirty players eligible to face Denmark at Wembley next Wednesday. But I am not sure Mr Hodgson knows what the purpose of these games is. I was frankly staggered and extremely annoyed to learn earlier today that Adam Johnson, a winger who has scored 7 goals in his last 9 club appearances cannot get into a 30, YES 30 man squad! What kind of message does this send to prospective players on the fringes of an England call-up? Seemingly, come into unreal form and you still won't earn a place in a friendly squad.
My heart sunk to see regular names amongst those called up who are simply put, in my opinion not good enough. Admittedly there is plenty of talent in the squad, but I refuse to believe that Tom Cleverley would get near England were it not for the club he plays for. I wrote an article earlier this month questioning whether Adam Johnson had deserved a re-call. Whilst I still felt that his hopes of getting a place on the plane to Rio were a long-shot, I nonetheless expected him to at least be given a chance in a friendly fixture. England have plenty of talent in the wide areas yet I cannot see what Andros Townsend (I know he's been injured) has done recently that merits his place over Johnson.
Similarly, Gareth Barry has been excluded from the squad. Yes the lad is 33, but in my opinion has been a country mile better than Cleverley and one or two others in England's central midfield. In my opinion this wholly communicates the wrong message. Where is the incentive? Even if Roy did not play the likes of Barry or Johnson, what harm would there be in calling them up? This would no doubt have given them a timely confidence boost and a glimmer of hope that they might yet make it to Brazil. With the crop of English talent seemingly deminishing in England in recent years, I am of the opinion that players like Adam Johnson should be commended for leaving a better and bigger club, sacrificing wage and prestige, in order to get regular playing time. Roy however seemingly prefers to pick players just because of who they play for *cough* Cleverley.
Some of you will be aware that a few weeks ago Hodgson dared to venture to the North East for the first time as England manager to see Johnson play. His chances of doing much that day were however dealt an enormous blow when Wes Brown was sent off in the 3rd minute, leaving Sunderland struggling for possession and Johnson struggling to make an impact. If Roy has judged him solely for that day alone, then more fool him.
I feel it is important to end saying that believe it or not I actually quite like Hodgson as England manager and feel he will do a decent job in the coming years. I am however extremely annoyed at this decision and just pray that it doesn't alter Johnson's confidence when I visit Wembley for the first time on Sunday for the Capital One Cup Final.
Come on Roy, give everyone a fair chance!