By: Drew Pilewski
With the Christmas time coming around, national team managers all throughout Europe will be scratching their chins and dissecting the play of every man eligible for their nation’s squad for this summer’s Euros. England manager Roy Hodgson has quite the selection to make this summer for his England squad considering the current form of many of his players.
English players have been much maligned in recent years with injuries crippling young stars like Theo Walcott and Daniel Sturridge, while older veterans such as Stevie Gerrard and Frank Lampard have gone to the Premier League graveyard that is MLS. In this topsy-turvy EPL season however, we are now seeing the emergence of the next crop of English Stars. Harry Kane was the first to break onto the scene with a stellar (if not overachieving) season last year. This year he has eight goals and, despite the slow start, has found his shooting boots. This year’s Englishman in form has been the explosive scoring Jamie Vardy, however he is 28 years old therefore this disqualifies him from the designation of the next crop of English stars. Honestly Jamie Vardy is just this year’s above average English striker who plays above his ability for a season and then reaches almost god status when he is over-hyped by the English tabloids.
I am not interested in this crowd, but rather a less traditional group. I think the true strength of England lies with some young players in the heart of midfield and in defense that are truly starting to impress. Right now, the hot name is Tottenham Hotspurs’ Dele Alli who scored this past weekend at the Hawthorns in the Spurs’ 1-1 draw. The 19 year old has scored in three games this season for the Spurs and scored an absolute screamer against France in the friendly only a few weeks ago. He also put in a strong shift in the draw against Arsenal. If we see more of the same from Alli, then Roy Hodgson’s hand will be forced into selecting him for the team.
Sticking with Tottenham, Eric Dier has been the defensive counterpart for Alli this season. While Alli has the attacking flair and helps the Spurs keep possession, it is Dier who knows how to rough up an opponent into submission. He, along with Alli, had a very strong game at the center of the park against North London rivals Arsenal. Dier has been touted as one of Tottenham’s most consistent players this season and is one of the reasons they have not lost since the first week.
It is also encouraging to see English youngster Ross Barkley playing back to the form that the football world knows that he is capable of. The creativity appears to be back in his boots after he seemed to have lost his flair last season. This magic has helped Romelu Lukaku score 14 goals this season so far after only scoring 21 last year in all competitions. All of the pundits who wrote him off after one season are really eating their words after his performances this year.
There is also a glut of young English talent that has incredible potential, but have been plagued by injuries their whole careers. Example of these are Jack Wilshire, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin, Luke Shaw, and Calum Chambers who has not been injured but is buried deep in the Arsenal bench.
Most of these players are expected to be back before the end of the season, and if any could get an extended run of games and find some good form this spring, it would make Roy Hodgson’s job in selecting this England squad very difficult.