Sunday, May 27, 2018

Will an England boss ever pick in-form players?

England boss Roy Hodgson has selected a 30 man squad for Wednesday's friendly against Denmark at Wembley

England boss Roy Hodgson has selected a 30 man squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Denmark at Wembley

I have to say the 30-man England squad selected for Wednesday’s friendly match against Denmark was roughly what I expected.

However, something struck me about the squad selected by Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson, there were a few in-form players omitted from the squad.


A number of English players have been performing well for their clubs in recent months or even for much of the season.

There are three players in particular that I believe should consider themselves hard done not being in the squad.

Those three are Hull’s Tom Huddlestone, Everton’s Gareth Barry and Sunderland’s Adam Johnson.

I have seen cases against their inclusions in the squads by a number of fans and journalists alike. However, on form surely these players deserve a chance in the England squad, especially when the latest squad contains 30 players.

Everton’s on-loan defensive midfielder Gareth Barry has enjoyed a very consistent season. He was surplus to requirements at Manchester City and Everton fans were slightly sceptical about the former-Villa man joining their club.

However, the 32-year-old midfielder has been one of the best players in his position in the Premier League. He does not do anything fancy, but he protects his back four and keeps the midfield ticking over. The England midfield is crying out for an in-form Gareth Barry.

Some may claim that Barry has had his chance and is not one for the future. Well that is true, but it would be wrong to dismiss the midfielders claim just because he is considered ‘too old’.

Tom Huddlestone is often criticised for being slow and immobile. However, he is arguably one of the finest passers of the ball in the English top-flight. His ability to land a pass at somebody’s feet from a long way away is sublime.

When he was younger he was regarded as a star of the future, unfortunately for the central midfielder his career has been blighted by injuries. Tottenham gave up on the midfielder this summer and allowed him to move to Hull in a club record move.

The former-Forest man has been a key component in the Tigers retaining a respectable position in the Premier League table. The 27-year-old’s good performances have largely been down to regular football for the Tigers this season.

The third player of the unlucky trio is Sunderland winger Adam Johnson. The former-Manchester City star has always been rather mercurial. When he is hot, he is unplayable, but when he is not in the mood he disappears from games.

Since boss Gus Poyet arrived at Sunderland Johnson has been superb. His form in recent weeks may have dipped slightly, but the winger has found the net nine times for the Black Cats, making him Sunderland’s top scorer.

Johnson has played a major part in the north east side’s rise off the bottom of the Premier League table. Maybe Roy Hodgson considers Johnson slightly too much of an enigma, but he would certainly offer the team something different.


Football is all about opinions, but I must take issue with one of Roy Hodgsons selections, that of Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley. The central midfielder has claimed that he is being used as a scapegoat for United’s poor season, when in all truth he is just not good enough.

Despite looking like he had early potential for United and a fruitful loan spell at Wigan, Cleverley is nowhere good enough for United or England. Even some Manchester United fans have stated he is not good enough for England.

I do not see what Cleverley offers the England team. Either Barry or Huddlestone could easily have replaced the midfielder in the squad. I do not think Cleverley could have had any complains had he been dropped from the squad.


It seems that Roy Hodgson is respecting the reputation of Manchester United too much here. If Cleverley played for Hull, Sunderland or Crystal Palace would he be in the England squad on current form? The simple answer is no.

Hodgson has to start showing that he is not influenced by reputations and pick a team that is best for England.


The most successful nations in world football do not respect reputations. The best example being that of world and European champions Spain. Spain boss Vicente del Bosque named his squad for their midweek friendly against Italy and left out trio Fernando Torres, David Villa and Juan Mata.

All three players have big reputations in the game, but the Spanish boss has decided to pick players who are better for the team or in-form. That is how it should be done Mr Hodgson.


England’s coaching team has to change their way of thinking or the Three Lions will continue to struggle on the big stage. The sooner they realise that picking in-form players could improve the chances of the team’s success the better.

Has Roy Hodgson picked the right squad for England’s friendly against Denmark?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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