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English Players with A Point to Prove: Part 2

Second batch of Englishmen aiming to make their case for the national team this season.

"The goal's that way Ashley" - Jones directing traffic. Photo credit
"The goal's that way Ashley" - Jones directing traffic. Photo credit
Stephen Dunn

Yesterday, we looked at several Englishmen hoping to make an impression as the new season gets underway. There were some established name and several up-and-comers as well. Today we repeat the drill and cover the clubs that hasn't been covered in part one.

MANCHESTER CITY

Joe Hart

Joe Hart is England's number one between the sticks and barring some massive drop-off in his performances, it is likely that he will keep his place. The thing is, Hart is prone to the odd error as evident last season when a string of errors and poor performances saw him dropped by Manuel Pellegrini in favor of Costel Pantilimon (now with Sunderland). For Hart, this season serves as an opportunity to really prove that he is England's undisputed number one. The presence of more-than-qualified backup in Willy Caballero, who will push Hart for the starting job in Manchester City's XI, which should keep Hart on his toes. Fellow English keeper Fraser Forster has also made the move to England with Southampton, which would enable Roy Hodgson to keep a close eye on him, so Hart must display his best performance week in and week out to remain England's number one.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Phil Jones

The Red Devils has several notable English players within their squad, in fact cases can also be made for these players below:

  • Luke Shaw: England's next big thing not only has to live up to they hype and expectation of playing for Manchester United but also a £27m price tag hanging on his neck.
  • Tom Cleverley: A mainstay during the qualifiers but poor performances as well as ManU's poor achievement cost him a spot in the national team.
  • Michael Carrick, Ashley Young: Can they discover their form and won a call-up back to the national team?
  • Chris Smalling: Will the three-in-the-back defense propels Smalling's name into the starting line-up?
  • Wayne Rooney: Now club captain, playing in his preferred centre forward role, can he deliver the goods week-in and week-out?

But Phil Jones is probably the one that has the most point to prove among ManU's Englishmen. Rooney and Shaw is likely to keep their spot in the national team, but Jones will have competition for a place in England's squad with Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka the number one choice for Hodgson, along with names such as John Stones, Chris Smalling, Eric Dier, and Steven Caulker also aiming for a spot. Jones' can play several positions, which has been both a blessing and a curse, as he is useful as a utility player but at the same time no one really knows where his best position is. All indication seems to point that Jones' future lies in the centre of defense. Now that Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic has left the club, he should nail down a spot in Manchester United's back line and showcase his defensive ability.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Andros Townsend

Townsend was somewhat unlucky to miss out on a seat on the plane to Brazil as he is probably England's remaining option in the wide areas heading into the World Cup. With Theo Walcott out injured and other wide men such as Ashley Young and Aaron Lennon being less than impressive, Towsend was definitely in the mix, however a late season injury dashed his World Cup hope. Now fully fit, Townsend face an uphill battle to return to England's squad. Raheem Sterling has been a revelation, Walcott is expected to return next month, while Adam Johnson, Ashley Young, and Aaron Lennon is also in the mix. Indeed, Townsend could also find his path to Spurs' first team XI a more difficult proposition as Pochettino opting to start Erik Lamela and Lennon out wide. Time will tell whether Townsend can wrestle a starting berth in Spurs' first XI as well as an England place.

SOUTHAMPTON

Nathaniel Clyne

The mass exodus at St. Mary's could be a blessing in disguise, namely for Nathaniel Clyne. The former Crystal Palace player saw his spot at right back taken over by Calum Chambers. Now that Chambers has moved to Arsenal, Clyne should be an automatic starter barring any last-minute transfer by Ronald Koeman. He seems to be ready for the challenge as he scored a goal against Liverpool in the 2-1 defeat last Sunday. With Glen Johnson less than impressive and Kyle Walker still injured, Clyne could benefit both with club and country.

AND THE REST...

Queens Park Rangers - Steven Caulker

Caulker was a key figure in Cardiff City's defense though that didn't stop the Welsh club from being relegated. Remaining in the top flight with QPR should allow him to continue to progress. Might learn a thing or two from that Rio Ferdinand bloke too.

Stoke City - Ryan Shawcross

He's basically the best of the bunch among Stoke's Englishmen, and the one most likely to make the national team (though that could be a bit of a longshot). Unless Asmir Begovic move away, then this spot belongs to Jack Butland.

Sunderland - Adam Johnson & Jack Rodwell

Hard to separate the two, Johnson must've feel hard done by that he didn't even get a look even in the friendly games for England, but if he carry on his performance from last season, he should get a look (eventually?). After two lost seasons, Rodwell now have the chance to play regular first-team football, and that's the first step to earning a recall to England. Honorable mention to Connor Wickham.

Swansea City - Jonjo Shelvey

Played poorly at Liverpool but got an England call. Played regularly and well with Swansea, but was overlooked. Can he right that wrong this season?

West Bromwich Albion - Saido Berahino

Started the season with a brace against Sunderland, could be an option in attack if Roy decides to experiment. Honorable mention: Joleon Lescott, must be happy to play football again.

West Ham United - Andy Carroll

If he can stay injury-free that is.

Agree? Disagree? Have another name in mind? Say it in the comments below!