With England set to face Denmark this week, Roy Hodgson has named a 30-man squad to take part as England continues their preparation for the upcoming World Cup. So with that in mind we asked our writers about what they thought of the squad, whether there is a name that Roy might have missed, or who shouldn't be even in the squad.
Well, I like the fact that he's bringing in the youths, like Luke Shaw, and Raheem Sterling. Developing the young players is key. I'm kind of shocked that Defoe is in, since people don't have a good view of the MLS over there. It does maybe prove that Roy is not clueless and sees maybe he could lose Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard over (I'd love to see John Terry come over too).
The squad is a bit of shambles, there are a few positives such as Luke Shaw being called up, but the exclusion of Adam Johnson has me baffled, especially when four goalkeepers have been picked. Roy has sent out the wrong message in my opinion by picking players like Cleverley who has been terrible recently and leaving out Johnson who's scored 7 goals in his last 9 games and won player of the month. I feel Roy is a touch too cautious, a fact perhaps emphasized in this stat, Adam Johnson have 7 goals and 3 assists in the Premier League, while Cleverley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, and Townsend combined only have 5 goals and 2 assists. Yes some of these players have had injuries or not played so much, but there is enough there to leave me scratching my head.
I think there are a few players who really deserved a call, none more so than Adam Johnson who has been fantastic recently, and had he been playing for one of the top 8, I'm sure he would get a call. The likes of Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore, and Curtis Davies all probably deserved a chance, and it's obvious that Kevin Nolan will never get another chance to impress. He has almost single handedly taken West Ham from relegation fodder to almost safe. I would have taken Fabian Deplh over some of the players he selected.
As far as who shouldn't be in the squad, I think there are a few candidates. I think this friendly should be used to learn about the fringe players, or the players who you know nothing about but are currently performing at club level. So Cleverley shouldn't be anywhere near this squad based on current performance. Same should be said for Ashley Cole, we know everything we need to know about Cole, so let's bring in someone like Davies to have a look at. You don;t need three left backs for one friendly. James Milner is another guy, we know everything we need to know about him, why is he included in the squd, we had a plenty of midfielders, we could have added another striker. While on strikers, how Defoe got into this team is anyone's guess. He hasn't played, he's scored sparingly, and he's off to Toronto, and we know everything we need to know about him. He's more of the same, where a guy like Andy Carroll can change the dynamic of our attack if option one isn't working. I honesty just think this is a missed opportunity.
I think Hodgson's squad is solid overall - an experienced core, working in a few talented youngsters and generally ensuring that England will have a well prepped squad in Brazil this summer. However there are specifics that make this squad unpalatable.
For starters, bringing four goalkeepers to the camp is a mistake. Hodgson has stated in the past that he trusts Joe Hart, which despite his gaffes in the past, is an acceptable decision - he is the only keeper beyond Forster experienced in atop European competition. Forster's imperious form in Scotland ensures that he is a lock for Brazil, and Foster has certainly outperformed Ruddy this season despite missing parts due to injury, just why Hodgson feels the need to call both Foster and Ruddy is beyond me.
Moving on to midfield, I agree with the general consensus that, while Tom Cleverley and James Milner are established internationals, Hodgson should have given the call-ups to someone else - say, Hull's Tom Huddlestone or West Ham's Kevin Nolan, both having banner years. A definite missed opportunity.
It's on the subject of wingers'forwards where Hodgson has disappointed most in my mind. Andros Townsend, absent until recently with injury, hasn't outperformed his contemporaries, specifically Nathan Redmond at Norwich or Tom Ince at Crystal Palace/Blackpool - to earn the call-up. The form of Jermain Defoe has been decidedly mediocre as well; very little about the Tottenham crew has impressed in recent months.
Beyond these criticisms, the squad is, like I said, solid - not overly impressive, but not overly disappointing. Denmark should be easy pickings either way.
I think Hodgson's squad is both commendable and laughable in equal parts. The inclusion of the talented Luke Shaw is probably his standout decision. He could have picked either one of Carl Jenkinson or the increasingly promising Nathaniel Clyne in place of Kyle Walker, who hasn't done anything exceptional recently. It is quite surprising to see the inclusion of Chris Smalling in the squad, and players like Joleon Lescott and Ryan Shawcross would've been more than able replacements for the out of form man.
The midfield has room for improvement, and the squad would be better served if the Manchester United duo of Carrick, and Cleverley were replaced, by the likes of Gareth Barry, Mark Noble, or a bolder choice such as Jack Rodwell or Nathaniel Chalobah. England isn't exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to the striker department, so Hodgson's selection seems pretty sensible. However, I'd like to see him take more risks, and pick someone like Patrick Bramford to see how he performs on the international stage. The pre-World Cup friendlies are great opportunity for Hodgson to try fringe players, and he really should make the most out of it, something he doesn't seem to be doing right now.
On paper, the squad that Roy Hodgson has select is a solid squad, there isn't exactly one area where you can say that England is particularly weak, yet there isn't a specific area where England are particularly strong either. He's also got a nice blend of player, the seniors like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Wayne Rooney are still there, you have the young ones that are still developing like Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, and Jordan Henderson, while there are also the prospects such as Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling. So strength-wise, I would say that this squad is good, yet some of the specifics individual that was selected boggles me.
First of all, if three is a crowd then what about four? I think Roy wasted a spot in his squad by bringing four keepers, Forster and Ruddy is a solid back-up keeper and Roy should just stick with them. There's also a crowd in left back with Baines, Shaw, and Cole being called to the side. This coupled with the news that Phil Jagielka will miss the friendly due to hamstring injury, could've been used to bring a centre-half cover, where Roy only brought three in his squad.
In midfield, players like Cleverley and Milner again gets the nod, while they are reliable established internationals that plays a huge part in England's World Cup qualifying campaign, the performance of Huddlestone, Nolan, Shelvey, or Barry have been generally better than those two names, it's a shame they didn't get the opportunity to show what they can bring to the national side. Adam Johnson have also been left out despite his stellar performance in 2014 and the fact that one of England's winger, Theo Walcott will not participate in the tournament, surely it wouldn't hurt to give Johnson a chance, yet he's not in the squad.
Perhaps successive defeats against Germany and Chile has prompted Roy to pick a squad that he is familiar with and has been involved with the senior side set-up, in order to boost their confidence. However, with expectation being relatively modest compared to recent years, surely it wouldn't hurt for Roy to experiment a bit with his side as this tournament could be the perfect chance to build England's core for the foreseeable future.