Roy Hodgson has named his England squad for UEFA Euro 2012, his first since taking over the job as manager. While I’m keen not to put too much emphasis on squad selection in relation to tactics, motivation, team spirit and the like, it’s difficult not to be a little disappointed with the 23-man selection overall – but I’m trying my best.
The headlines are quite clear, and have unsurprisingly caused uproar on Twitter already. On the downside, there are some questionable inclusions – the most obvious being Liverpool’s impotent midfielder Stewart Downing – and some bizarre omissions, most notably Michael Carrick of Manchester United.
The squad also includes Arsenal’s prodigious playmaker Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; as you will be able to read in my In Bed With Maradona preview at the end of the month I’m pleased with his selection. In spite of his inexperience, I’m glad there’s a player in the squad capable of the unexpected and, more importantly, who plays with a smile on his face. Given the rest of the squad, he’s the only one.
Here’s the squad in full:
Joe Hart (Manchester City), Robert Green (West Ham United), John Ruddy (Norwich City)
Joe Hart is a no-brainer for Hodgson, while Robert Green is one of a crop of goalkeepers who would be selected differently by different managers, and is a bog-standard second-choice. But the inclusion of Norwich City stopper John Ruddy is both pleasing and mildly surprising, just rewards for a fine season with the Canaries. David Stockdale is unfortunate to miss out, but Ruddy is a justifiable choice even if he will have to cancel his wedding.
On standby is Jack Butland; the young Birmingham City goalkeeper has been at Cheltenham Town on loan but has worked with England’s new goalkeeping coach, Dave Watson, and is very much part of the Under-21 set-up.
Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Joleon Lescott (Manchester City), John Terry (Chelsea)
Glen Johnson keeps his place, thanks in part to Kyle Walker’s injury. According to Hodgson, Johnson was not up against Micah Richards for a place. I’d have Richards over Johnson at right back, but the Manchester City man misses out completely after losing out in Hodgson’s dilemma to Manchester United’s versatile youngster Phil Jones, who I think is a mildly pleasing inclusion.
The big news, of course, is the omission of Rio Ferdinand and the inclusion of John Terry. Having spoken to both, it appears that Hodgson has had to choose between the two. And despite his denial, it seems clear that Terry’s upcoming court case has played a part, with Ferdinand overlooked in favour of the Chelsea skipper, who is accused of racially abusing Ferdinand’s brother, Anton. For me, this is a shameful error that extends to the Football Association as well as Hodgson.
The standby defender is Everton’s Phil Jagiela – he’d be in there at Terry’s expense if I were picking the squad.
Gareth Barry (Manchester City), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are both included, and while I’ve argued in the past for both to be condemned to the international scrap-heap, that was a decision that should have been made two years ago. In a short-termist approach, both deserve their places on club form.
As I mentioned, I’m chuffed that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been selected. But I’m less enamoured with the decision to include Stewart Downing – despite being a defender of his through much of his difficult season, there’s absolutely no justification for selecting him in a squad that does not feature some players who’ve really come into their own this season. I’m primarily thinking of Michael Carrick, but there’s part of me that would have liked to see Paul Scholes get a final go too.
Carrick is not even a back-up, an honour reserved for Adam Johnson – who can feel hard done by – and Jordan Henderson, who is as questionable a choice in reserve as Downing is for the squad.
Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
I’ll be in a minority on this one, but I have no argument with Andy Carroll being in this squad. He’s a player I seem to rate more highly than most, and although Peter Crouch has edged him at points in a season in which Carroll certainly didn’t show his best, he’s finding form at the right time. Grant Holt has been riding a wave of public opinion, but I don’t think ever really had a hope.
As evidenced by the inclusion of some out-of-form attackers, forward is a weak area for England. On standby we have Daniel Sturridge, who unfotunately has some way to go to convince the masses that he’s going to live up to his potential after a far from perfect season.
So, there we have it: Roy Hodgson’s first England squad. I’d love to hear what you think of it, so have at it…
(Photo credit: dannymol via Flickr)