Preparation for the European Championships in the summer begins now for Roy Hodgson. With qualification having been confirmed for a while now he will start to try and get his squad shaped early, obviously not taking into consideration injuries. During the last European Qualifier games he gave the chance for Jonjo Shelvey to stake a claim for a place in the squad, which to his credit he took. San Marino aren’t top opposition, but he showed his ability and controlled the game from start to finish. Switzerland were tougher opposition but Shelvey was still solid. Hodgson still has to be open to other players who could help the team and give them a chance in the build-up to the summer. There are players out there who could really look to break into this team, here is just a few.
The Southampton midfielder has just been confirmed as the new England under 21 captain, and is enjoying a run in the Southampton team. Young players often have a breakthrough season, this could very well be the season for Ward-Prowse. At 20 years of age he made his Southampton debut back in 2011, since then he has 95 appearances under his belt scoring 2 goals. The England centre midfielders are busy players, with the likes of James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph, but they don’t seem to have that player who loves to get on the ball and dictate play. Michael Carrick is the type of player to do it from a deep position but further up the pitch this is where Ward-Prose could be very effective for England. His box to box nature brings energy like Milner and co but he has that bit more ability on the ball than the names mentioned. Ward-Prowse has the ability to also play as a number 10; he is an intelligent player and could really make England tick in the final third. This tournament could be too early for him, but if he keeps up his form in an under-performing Southampton side at the minute then he couldn’t be overlooked. His ability on the set-pieces would also be a massive benefit going forward for England.
It really does seem like Nathan Redmond has been about for years, but you have to remember he is still only 21. He has represented his country 22 times at under 21 level and scored 6 goals along the way. Redmond broke onto the scene back in 2010 at the age of 16 and in them five years he has made 170 appearances. This could really be the season for him to propel himself into the senior national team picture. His ability to play on both flanks is a blessing as he can go both ways, stronger on his right side but he isn’t scared to unleash that left foot. Nathan has always had blistering pace, and opposition defenders hate dealing with pace, especially wingers as direct as Redmond. It is pretty clear to see that Redmond has worked on building himself up, getting stronger on the pitch and has worked on his finishing. The goal he scored against Sunderland showed a confident player who has improved. The wide positions for England are strong, with Sterling, Wellbeck, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lallana to name a few. That said with Redmond’s talent and ability he needs to keep playing the way he is, stay free of injury and maybe get a chance somewhere along the line.
The Crystal Palace centre back is perhaps one of the most unfortunate English players around. At 28 now Dann’s opportunities are limited to represent his country but surely now Roy Hodgson has to take a look at him. Dann has represented his country at under 21 level twice but his drive and determination even after all the snubs is a great credit. Last season was perhaps the best of Dann’s career thus far; forming a formidable partnership with Damian Delaney resulted with Dann winning the Crystal Palace player of the year award, a great achievement. The strengths that Scott could bring to the England set-up would be very beneficial, his aerial ability in both boxes is very important; he has the intelligence when playing against different opposition, when to get tight and when to stand off. His reading of the game has developed throughout the years, the issue that could be restricting Dann is his lack of pace, not slow but doesn’t have a fantastic burst of pace, so getting the right partner is important. Many fans and media outlets have been saying he deserves his chance so let’s hope to see Scott representing England very soon.
Other names could be floating around all season, notable ones to look out for would be Danny Rose at Spurs, and he is developing and is right on the fringes of that England squad. Steven Caulker at Southampton, this could be a big season for Caulker so much ability he just needs the right club and partner to display these qualities. Charlie Austin despite playing his trade in the Championship now is an out and out goal scorer which is exactly what England need. Joe Gomez at Liverpool is starting regularly at this early stage of the season and can play right across the back 4, what an asset that is. Gomez is very young but England is no strangers to taking players of that age to major tournaments. It will be an exciting season for English players; the hope is to see them really making a push to give Hodgson a right headache.