England won their last two internationals, there's no denying that, but the inclusion of Jack Colback in the England squad is unjustified in my opinion, here's why.
Colback is a player I watched first hand for four seasons during his time at Sunderland. Plenty of readers will immediately assume a predisposition on my part given that Colback has recently, controversially moved to Sunderland's arch rivals Newcastle United. I am however, writing this as objectively as possible, given that I actually consider Colback to be a reasonable player, an opinion you wouldn't find amongst many Sunderland fans. Nonetheless, when I saw Colback's name in Hodgson's squad the other week I was gobsmacked, shell-shocked and felt as though my disillusion with the national side had hit a new level.
During his time at Sunderland Colback was always reliable, without being spectacular. He was consistent, versatile and willing, though rarely a standout performer. Last season Sunderland's midfield included three English players, Lee Cattermole, Adam Johnson and Jack Colback. Without prejudice, I would wholeheartedly rank them in that order in terms of what they could offer England. Lee Cattermole was utterly brilliant in the latter stages of last season, contributing to Sunderland's 'Great Escape' with excellent performances against the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. His fantastic form has continued into this season where he scored a thirty yard screamer in the opening five minutes of the season and has been Sunderland's man of the match in three of our four games. His current form has truly warranted an international call up.
Adam Johnson is a good player, though too inconsistent. At times last season he was simply incredible, beating defenders and scoring goals at will, while in many other games he was entirely anonymous. He has begin this season in similar vein. Anonymous for the first three games, but excellent against Spurs yesterday. Still, ability wise, he could give England a good option out wide, though is rightly unlikely to be picked.
Now we come to Colback, a player who in my opinion, was Sunderland's third best English midfielder last season. He always reliable and kept the ball moving nicely, though he rarely did anything beyond simple passes and useful interceptions. If Colback was Sunderland's third best English midfielder, how can he be called up for England? Before I'm accused of bias, I wrote this article back in May last year, long before Colback was ever linked with Newcastle, and as you'll find, I rated Johnson and Cattermole much higher.
After reading my opinion thus far, you'll probably begin to understand my amazement when Colback was called forth by Hodgson. His comment that he'd heard Colback called the 'Ginger Pirlo' was beyond belief when you consider that originated from the ever controversial figure of Adrian Durham. The way Hodgson portrayed this comment also, staggeringly, gave the impression that Colback had been called up because he'd been called the 'Ginger Pirlo'. This, for me, demonstrates his ineptitude.
As you'll find in my article from back in May, my opinion of Colback is that he's neat and tidy and better than Cleverley, though not on the same level of Cattermole. As anyone watching Match of the Day last night will have witnessed also, he can't finish from two yards out.
I'm afraid that this selection has demonstrated to me that Hodgson is unaware of the abilities of English players at lesser clubs, a sackable offence given the utterly pathetic showing from our 'big players' at the World Cup. There is a certain arrogance from Hodgson and many England fans, whereby they think England too pure for ugly players like Cattermole or others such as Shawcross, though every workman needs a hammer to be a successful tradesman, and Colback is not that hammer in my opinion.