Here we go again. England are about to embark on yet another international tournament with their entire country watching a select group of young stars with baited breath.
The hopes and aspirations of a nation rest squarely on the shoulders of 26 (for now) talented individuals who have the unenviable task of leading their nation to glory or failure in front of the entire world.
A plethora of talent has come to the fore this season and it’s not really surprising that Roy Hodgson has chosen a broader pool of 26 players before he can finally submit the 23 man squad ahead of the deadline on the 31st of May.
As always, any and every decision that an England manager makes is called into question, and this time it’s no different. As the 26 man preliminary squad for the Euros was released for the public to dissect, a few questions were immediately thrown at Roy. The first thing that struck England fans and pundits was the selection of only four recognized centre-halves.
As per the squad, the only proper centre backs are Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and John Stones. I’m not saying I could do a better job than Mr. Hodgson, but having another centre back to choose from would have put the country’s mind at ease don’t you think? My point is further substantiated when you take a look at the recent form that John Stones has had to endure.
The young Evertonian has a future brighter than most other 21-year-olds, but there’s no doubt that his form this season has been iffy to say the least. Despite being a mainstay in the heart of the Toffees defence, Stones made too many errors through the course of the 41 appearances that he made this season. Most eye catching was his shambolic performance in the Merseyside derby where his errors led to two goals before he was hauled off at half-time with stomach cramps.
While I personally don’t disagree at all with the selections of any of the three centre backs that Roy has chosen, I would somehow liked to have seen a Phil Jagielka in the team as well. I’m assuming that Smalling and Cahill will be the first choice centre back pairing for England in the summer, and I’m willing to bet on England playing those two together. In that case, let’s assume a situation where we’re defending a lead with 20 minutes left on the clock with incessant attacks coming in from our opponents. A third centre back would be just the thing needed at a time like this, and in that case, I would rather go for an experienced, rock-solid pro such as Jagielka than a youngster who hasn’t really gotten used to such high pressure situations.
Just to put our centre half selection into perspective, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Germany and France all have at least four primary centre backs among their ranks. Surely the managers of all these teams have taken this decision after giving some proper thought to the matter.
Not one to hold regrets, I’m going to keep faith in Roy, who in my opinion, is a manager of the highest order and a terrific gentleman. I’m sure he knows what he’s doing and I definitely hope that we do not come to a situation where our resources at the heart of defence become scarce. I wish England all the very best in the Euros and I hope the decision of selecting three centre backs is not one that we have to look back upon.