Saints pair Rodriguez and Lallana go marching into Roy's Rio plans
Now Roy Hodgson is defying the perception that only players from the big clubs get an opportunity with England after calling the young Southampton pair Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana into his squad yesterday.
It is, he says, a direct but welcome result of the freezing out of homegrown talent at the top level of the Premier League.
The clamour from now until the World Cup next year will be for the wholesale blooding of fresh, youthful faces. It always is. Just now, it will be loudest around St Mary’s after the manager’s latest recognition of the sixth-placed Saints’ fine start to the season.
Hodgson, in fact, already seems to have recruited a core of these kind of performers after successfully blending Andros Townsend with Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere in his main party last month.
It would be pointless to follow the bar-room pundit’s desire for endlessly handing out new caps. But Hodgson made it plain when he announced his plans for the friendlies against Chile and Germany that there is scope for a late surge during the remainder of this season’s friendlies.
Among those on the radar are West Ham’s Ravel Morrison along with more Southampton starlets – James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw and Nathaniel Clyne – and Nottingham Forest’s Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah, although it is unlikely that West Brom’s Saido Berahino will be elevated from the Under-21s before next summer.
The call-ups for striker Rodriguez, 24, and midfielder Lallana, 25, are part of an extraordinary international resurgence for Southampton following the successful call-up of 31-year-old striker Rickie Lambert into the frame last August.
“It is a little bit easier with the squads that teams have outside the top four or five clubs in the country to give a player a chance,” said Hodgson. “We are moving that way. It’s always going to be harder for a player to break into the biggest teams, with their very big squads, than break into a team with a lesser budget.
“I can’t decide those things. But I can be happy for Southampton when they do it. We follow every team, we follow all the matches. Rodriguez is a player I followed when I was at West Brom and he was at Burnley. Every time we see Southampton, he’s one of the players we watch specifically.
“He has encouraged me to select him this time, not least of all because Danny Welbeck is injured, although we hope he’s going to recover.
“Adam was with us once but didn’t play. We’ve been following him very closely and he has played a major part in Southampton’s rise this season.”
There were recalls for Arsenal full-back Kieran Gibbs and Liverpool midfielder, Jordan Henderson – an ever-present in their impressive start to the Premier League season. Townsend retains his place after his headline-grabbing performances against Montenegro and Poland and Wilshere is included despite an ankle injury.
Everton’s energetic midfielder Barkley, 19, looks sure to get a run-out in at least one of the games. England face Chile at Wembley on November 15 and Germany four days later, and there will be a lot of squad rotation.
Hodgson outlined his willingness to try more new faces while hinting that it will take something exceptional to create a surprise inclusion in the squad for Rio.
He said: “Barkley lost his place in the Everton team in the past couple of games but he’s a very interesting player. It will depend on what degree of experimentation I want to use and to what degree I want to keep combinations of players together.
“It will be a question of looking at Ross now but certainly also looking at Morrison and Ward-Prowse and Chalobah, who are pretty well advanced. We have kept some others in the Under-21 squad. But I believe that there are more young players who might force their way into my attention during the next four or five months.
“The big question will be to what extent I am convinced any 18-year-old is going to keep out one of the seniors who got us to the World Cup.
I think players should be strong individuals in order to get a call up instead of being part of a strong team, but it's about being a team when it matters during the next world cup. I don't see the slightest bit of fluidity in the England side that makes me think they are a tournament winning outfit. Hodgson needs to pick a team and stop with it now until the end of the cup. All these little gestures of giving younger players a call up are pointless and strike me no more favourably than companies picking multi racial actors for adverts just to prove a point.
If they are good enough now, let them replace the seniors. If they aren't, ignore them until after the tournament, and then concentrate solely on them for the following 4 years. The last thing the team needs is to never have an identity. We all know that as soon as the final selection starts Hodgsons ***** will twitch and the senior players will play, so why continue to piss about with new players? Concentrate on getting 11 players playing well together. Rant over.
I admire Southampton, but have to agree slightly that it all seems a bit too little too late where replacing the old school are concerned, and some of the call ups come across as good will gestures, and bewildering call ups, such as that of Barkley, who has hardly kicked a ball in the top flight, let alone proven himself to be a better candidate than some more experienced players.