Has Hodgson been rash in choosing Rashford over Carroll and Defoe for Euros?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 16, 2016
In choosing Marcus Rashford on his preliminary 26-man England squad for the Euro 2016 finals in France, Roy Hodgson has put his own curious twist on the saying age before beauty.
Talented Manchester United teenager Rashford burst onto the scene earlier this season when the Red Devils faced a striker shortage, and the 18-year-old has seized that chance – thrust upon him by necessity rather than design – with seven goals in 16 first-team games across all competitions.
While Hodgson placing his faith in youth is certainly refreshing, with plenty of other young legs chosen for Euro 2016 which England are 9/1 with Coral to win, there were other attacking options that made considerable cases for inclusion.
Established and in-form strikers omitted
Andy Carroll and Jermain Defoe represent opposite ends of the striking spectrum. Neither is particularly subtle; a battering ram, old-fashioned centre forward or target man as we often call them nowadays, and a goal-poacher that sniffs out chances or gets on the end of things.
Youth is no guarantee of innovation, and both Carroll and Defoe have scored in major tournaments for the Three Lions which proves they can do it when given a chance.
Rashford is a raw talent that will be moulded in the coming years, but movement already looks like being key to the teenager’s game. England do have previous when it comes to taking youngsters to Euros and World Cups, but will Rashford be a Michael Owen of 1998 or a Theo Walcott of 2006?
Defoe did the business for Black Cats
While playing for struggling Sunderland and being 33 may have counted against him, there is no denying the statistical evidence for Defoe getting an international recall. All but four or his 15 Premier League goals for the Black Cats have come in 2016.
Mackems manager Sam Allardyce even admitted when recently asked on television that he made tactical tweaks, following a very bleak Christmas period, to set Sunderland up to suit diminutive striker Defoe. That paid off big time, as the Stadium of Light side staved off relegation once again.
Veteran forwards that the world knows exactly how they play have had a huge impact in international football; just look at Miroslav Klose aiding Germany to World Cup glory in Brazil in the summer of 2014.
Antonio and Carroll absent, yet Townsend returns
Carroll, meanwhile, is one of a quartet of West Ham United players that can rightly feel aggrieved at being ignored by Hodgson. Right-sided player Michail Antonio, consistent left back Aaron Cresswell and Hammers captain Mark Noble all miss the boat for Euro 2016.
Newcastle United winger Andros Townsend – a player that unlike Defoe lost in the relegation battle – got the Three Lions nod, yet Antonio, who has scored three times as many goals in all competitions, has been left out.
At a time when natural width is somewhat lacking in England ranks, it is a bold call to select Townsend. He has rarely let his county down in his 10 caps to date, but with those posting better stats out there there is a lack of consistency over Hodgson’s selection.
Some 50 years ago, West Ham formed the successful core of England’s World Cup triumph, but even in-form Carroll with six strikes in his last nine cannot press his claims.
Final cut coming up
Both Rashford and Townsend could still be cut, with three further players still set to miss out on Euro 2016 because only 23 men can cross the Channel and figure in France.
With England a terrific 13/8 price to make the Euro semi-finals, it is a new wave which may include Rashford, and more likely Spurs duo Dele Alli and Eric Dier, plus Everton pair Ross Barkley and John Stones, to which hopes are pinned.
Hodgson’s time in charge of the Three Lions could be categorised by whether or not he has made a rash judgement on promoting too much youth too soon. Punters can expect England to be fearless, but whether they can live up to those tournament odds remains to be seen.
You can check out more Euro 2016 content, including in-depth features on all 24 competing countries, on Coral’s special page.