England Football Team Euros 2016

Big Sam Names First England Squad

England Squad Named To Take On Slovakia – Ross Barkley Misses Out

An interesting if flawed selection for Sam Allardyce’s first England squad against Slovakia on Sunday. Most critics will focus on the decision to leave out Everton’s Ross Barkley. Allardyce explained it thus: “For him it’s disappointing, for me, you have to make these decisions. The door will always be open for Ross, but right now I feel the squad I’ve picked is the right one.”

It is surely the wrong decision. England cannot afford not to play their most naturally skilled and creative players.

Barkley comes into that category, has started the new season in fine style, Everton lie fourth – he should have been chosen and he should be in the starting eleven.

Equally, I would have selected Marcus Rashford.

Rashford terrifies defenders when he runs at them. OK, he is only young and more often than not on the bench for Manchester United, but if you are good enough then you are old enough. He is just the sort who could make mincemeat out of Slovakia.

John Stones reminds me of 1966 England World Cup winning captain Bobby Moore the way he drives out of defence, producing telling passes. Stones is in the squad and should start.

Barkley and Stones were the only two outfield players who never got a single minute of football in four matches at Euro 2016. No wonder England were so hopeless and no wonder Roy Hodgson had to go.

At international level you need to mould a side around your most talented performers. Stones, Rashford and Barkley ought to be one, two and three on the team sheet.

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw is in after recovering from last season’s leg break and proving his fitness and ability in the first three games of the season.

He is another who is top class and when fit should always play. 

Wilshere left out after slow start to the season

But Jack Wilshere is stuck in the wilderness – he should also be automatic for England but attitude and injury have meant he may never make the most of his natural abilities.

There is still time for Wilshere but there are plenty of examples of excellent players who for whatever reason never quite make it at the highest level.

With Shaw and Stones, the vulnerable England defence is looking stronger. Whatever Pep Guardiola thinks, Joe Hart should be between the sticks, though he has much to prove after a shocking Euro 2016.

What a pity Jack Butland is out injured – when fully fit he needs to make the position his own for the next decade.

Arsenal’s Theo Walcott is recalled and will add pace and poise. Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater will provide vision and bite.

A great occasion for Michail Antonio who joined West Ham from Nottingham Forest in September 2015, and began his career in non-league football with Tooting and Mitcham.

Difficult to see that he is good enough at international level but then managers up and down the country have questioned him during the course of his career rise. So far he has met every challenge.

“He scored nine goals in his first season and he’s a terrific athlete, a good crosser and a goalscorer,” noted Allardyce.

“I got slightly emotional when I found out,” said Antonio. “It’s just one of those things that I’ve always dreamt of playing for England as a kid, so now for it to happen after I’ve worked my way from non-league to where I am now, I am just so happy.”

England couldn’t beat Slovakia in the summer however with the amount of talent in the squad surely they should make a winning start to the qualifying campaign!

England squad:

Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal).

Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).