International week is back, and now that Gareth Southgate is officially in charge of England and has had plenty of time in charge to decide his squad, the players have been chosen for the games away to old enemy and current world champions Germany, and a home game in the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania. Southgate may have known for some time who he’d pick, but with injuries to the likes of Harry Kane and Daniel Sturridge, and the no longer world class form of the Leicester players, Southgate’s starting XI is up in the air for sure.
Here’s a recap of the squad and the key points in England’s latest team:
The end is nigh for England’s all time top scorer Wayne Rooney
Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t help but debate him. Wayne Rooney, England’s all time top scorer, and arguably the greatest player to ever wear an England shirt has missed out on a place in the England squad for the first time (other than injuries) since his first call-up when he was 18. Gareth Southgate said in his press conference that “a lack of game time” cost the England captain his place. Which is understandable considering his lack of minutes under new Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and his poor performances when being played.
There is no doubt that even despite Wayne Rooney saying he will stay at United, that his time at the club is coming to an end, and a couple of quid on a summer move back to Everton or to China might not be a bad idea.
It’s a shame at just 31 years old, when many players are still performing to their best, that Wayne Rooney is being pushed a side. After all, he’s the national teams all time top scorer and the biggest club in England’s all time top scorer, but it seems the generation of players from the early to mid naughties like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney is finally coming to an end officially. Whether it is justified or not for Rooney to not be involved is simply a matter of opinion. But I know one thing is for certain, as a true supporter of our national team it is a very very sad time for English football to witness an England legend missing out, and I feel for Wayne. Not many people show such passion when playing for England like Wayne Rooney. I’m sure we’ll see him in an England shirt again, but with the World Cup next year, it might well be the end. Time is still on his side, and hopefully he engineers a move to a club where he plays regular football, and we see Rooney 10 shirts all over Wembley stadium again.
Vice-captain Gary Cahill will take the armband as a result.
Wazza’s loss is Defoe’s gain
Despite Sunderland being bottom of the Premier League table, Jermain Defoe has been instrumental in ensuring that there is still a chance of survival in the Premier League at this stage in the season, by netting 14 goals, just one less than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Yet strangely enough, we aren’t praising Defoe as we are Ibrahimovic.
Defoe, now 33, will be the oldest player in this England squad, and it will be the first time he’ll be back in an England kit in 3 years.
It’s certainly debatable whether or not Wayne Rooney should of be included, but with Defoe, even at 33, he simply had to be involved. Jamie Vardy seems to have lost his form after last years 8th place FIFA Ballon D’or season, Harry Kane got injured last week, and Marcus Rashford is struggling this season, so it seems Defoe is the only one who brings goals to the team right now.
People might label it a ‘desperate time calls for desperate measures’ situation, but you can’t argue with his record, and personally, an England call-up for Jermaine Defoe seems a little overdue. He’s been overlooked throughout his England career making just 55 appearances in 13 years. To put that into perspective; Peter Crouch made 42 appearances in the five years he was playing for England, and Wayne Rooney has made 119 in 14 years, and when you consider Jermaine Defoe has outscored most English players in this time, sometimes all of them, it seems strange he only has 55 caps. Regardless, it’ll be good to see Jermaine Defoe back in the squad, as he’s a striker who simply breathes goals.
West Brom’s Jake Livermore sneaks in
It has taken a lot of people by surprise to see Jake Livermore named in the announcement. The current West Brom man hasn’t done anything particularly special or eye catching this season to earn him a call-up, as West Brom sit comfortably in the top half, there aren’t many better English midfielders this year than him, because West Brom are most definitely over acheiving this year.
Livermore has made only one cap previously back in 2012 when he was 22 years old. Now, at 27, Livermore is named in the England squad, and time is definitely on his side if he wants to make this a regular occurrence. With only one cap, he’ll be like a debutante in an England shirt, but it seems Gareth’s Southgate is going to need to justify this choice to everyone, as we’re all a little unsure why. But hey, who knows, maybe he’ll score the winner against the Germans and he become an England legend.
Forster v Heaton v Hart for the number 1 spot
All fans of Premier League football, including Manchester City fans are still wondering why they ever let Joe Hart leave on loan. Both current Man City goalkeepers have lacked consistency in the wake of Pep Guardiola’s strange decision replace Hart.
With Hart playing in Italy this season at Torino, it has left the window wide open for England’s number 1 spot, and no doubt Gareth Southgate would of naturally had the chance to watch Heaton and Forster more this season, as they both play in England still. If the England manager is selecting his ‘keeper by form, Tom Heaton wins hands down, as he’s been arguably the best goalkeeper in England this season, as he has help Burnley turn Turf Moor a fortress.
Joe Hart still remains England’s recognised number 1, but that could well change.
Newbies James Ward-Prowse and Michael Keane get the nod
James Ward-Prowse is no stranger to an England shirt, he has made 27 appearances for the U21 side scoring 6 goals. Ward-Prowse is deserving of his call up and will definitely offer that killer set piece delivery that has been so important in English football for a long time, and perhaps gone missing since the days of David Beckham and Steven Gerrard, something missing from the current squad. An impressive season so far with Southampton after a lengthy spell out last year, James Ward-Prowse is one for the future for sure.
Michael Keane has represented both the Republic of Ireland and England at youth level, but Keane has since made 16 appearances for England’s U21 side popping up with three goals… not bad for a defender. Let’s hope Keane makes his first official cap for England against Lithuania (friendlies are not official) so he becomes officially an English player and not a potential Republic of Ireland player, as England could do with a promising young centre half like Michael Keane. He’s no doubt been one of the England’s best, if not, the best English centre back in the league this season. Keane has been crucial for Burnley this season, and he may become as important for England in the future.
It’s no doubt been a period of adjustment for England fans over the last two years. Three new managers, and the international retirement of Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard to name a few, and now no Wayne Rooney. However, other than the injury to Harry Kane, it is a full strength England squad with no undeserved absentees.
Germany vs England, Wednesday 22nd March
England vs Lithuania, Sunday 26th March