Should Hodgson assess England’s natural wide options ahead of Euro 2016?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | March 22, 2016
Injury to Raheem Sterling during the Manchester derby has left England short of natural wingers for their Euro 2016 warm-up friendlies against World Cup holders Germany and fellow heavyweights the Netherlands.
Yet Roy Hodgson has decided against calling up more outfield players, as his Three Lions party prepare to spend Easter in Berlin.
Here’s hoping that decision won’t, if you can forgive the Top Gun pun, have the England manager watching in slow motion as opposite number Joachim Low turns around and says to Die Mannschaft, take my breath away…
And the Germans will be breathtaking, buoyed by the rampant return to form of centre forward Mario Gomez in Turkey, plus World Cup final scorer and namesake Mario Gotze being back fit.
There might even be time for both Die Mannschaft and the Three Lions to hand out international debuts to up-and-coming Bayer Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah and Leicester City midfielder Danny Drinkwater respectively.
Away wins featured wingplay
England have won on their last two visits to Germany, though with both teams scoring, with Coral offering a tasty 10/1 on that happening again. A feature of both the 2-1 Berlin victory and iconic 5-1 drubbing handed out to the hosts in Muninch were wide players.
Fabio Capello had Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stewart Downing starting, also bringing Ashley Young off the bench; while Sven-Goran Eriksson used David Beckham and Nick Barmby with Steve McManaman coming on for the latter.
Hodgson has Liverpool duo Adam Lallana and James Milner to call upon, but they are on the Three Lions roster to provide graft and skill respectively not wide guile which involves taking on a man.
Arsenal attacking pair Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck, meanwhile, have played more football this term as central strikers rather than on the flanks; although, they do offer pace and link-up play which are handy attributes.
Coral’s football experts thus profile four wingers that may have been worth a look as late call-ups for the Germany game ahead of the Euro 2016 finals in France…
If Foxes clubmates Jamie Vardy and Drinkwater are in the England setup on merit, then some of that should rub off on former Aston Villa player Albrighton.
Leicester are having a magical season, and the fairytale ending of an against all odds Premier League title triumph is almost a reality.
Seven assists from Albrighton, who admittedly is in the shadow of Algerian wideman Riyad Mahrez, should not go unnoticed either.
Hodgson called up five players from Tottenham, the closest challengers to Claudio Ranieri’s men, so shouldn’t the Foxes get more recognition? Albrighton is a 20/1 chance to go to Euro 2016.
“Jamaica called but, if I keep doing what I’m doing, hopefully I can get an England call,” said West Ham United summer signing Antonio recently.
“You can see it with Dele Alli, he’s come from League One and he’s already in the England squad. You see it with Vardy. Hopefully I can get the call-up as well.”
It has been a remarkable rise for him – from Nottingham Forest to knocking on the door of Hodgson’s roster all in the space of less than a season.
At the City Ground, Antonio always offered himself as a direct outlet and genuine threat; reflected in last term’s numbers for Championship goals and assists being the same at an impressive 14 apiece.
Forest got the right price for their star winger and, although it took him some time to establish himself at the Hammers, Antonio is right to hold hopes of pulling on a Three Lions jersey.
Since the start of February, Antonio has scored five in 10 games, including helping West Ham to three successive wins over Sunderland, Spurs and at Everton from 2-0 down.
His claims, and those of Hammers captain Mark Noble, have thus far been ignored by Hodgson, but both must be so close to getting in, especially if Slaven Bilic takes the east London outfit into Europe for next season. Watch this space and a 33/1 price for Antonio to go to the Euros could tumble.
Everton attacker Lennon last played for England as a substitute in June 2013 during the 2-1 Wembley win over Brazil. He has not had a look-in since, explaining odds of 10/1 to make the Euros, but has returned to form since signing permanently for the Toffees.
While consistent end product has always been a criticism rightly levelled at Lennon, at 28 he is having his best-ever season. Half a dozen goals from the flank, including four in his last six Premier League games has brought his names to the lips of pundits once more.
Goodison Park teammates Ross Barkley and John Stones, who are both seen as having a huge part to play in the Three Lions’ future, are regulars under Hodgson, with 21-capped Lennon no stranger to the international setup.
Likely starting Germany full backs Matthias Ginter and Jonas Hector love to get forward, so good old-fashioned wingplay from a traditional operator like Lennon might just be the best form of defence against that.
Hodgson has handed Newcastle United winter window signing Townsend all 10 of his England caps to date, but the national boss has shown no sentiment towards him or new Toon teammate Jonjo Shelvey.
Both are out of favour because a relegation battle is not the best breeding ground for either, yet their Magpies moves were at least partly motivated by concerns over trying to get spots in the Euro 2016 squad.
Townsend, an 8/1 outsider to be at Euro 2016, was frozen out at Tottenham after a spat with a fitness coach. While he and Shelvey are putting themselves about for Newcastle, their hopes of being in France this summer depend on end product.
If we go on what he has previously done in an England shirt, however, then Townsend has hardly ever let his country down. A conservative coach like Hodgson may not give in to foolish sentiment, but he certainly remembers sterling service – hence Welbeck’s immediate return.
Check out our international football section for much more ahead of England’s game in Germany.
Coral’s Euro 2016 page is also well worth a look with the tournament soon upon us!