Robert Green and Danny Rose replace England injury drop outs
Roy Hodgson has made a trio of intriguing last-minute alterations to his England squad for the upcoming Euro 2018 qualifier against Lithuania, and following prestige friendly with European giants Italy.
Hodgson’s hand has been forced by a spate of sudden injuries to Three Lions stars, with spots in the side available after first picks Fraser Forster, Ben Foster and Luke Shaw all pulled out due to fitness concerns.
Sidelined stopper Forster was left with his knee in a splint following a slip on duty for Southampton last time out. The courageous custodian has been in sensational form for the Saints this season and, after being key to the south coast club’s brilliant backline record, was the likeliest challenger to Joe Hart’s throne.
Flexible Forster’s absence will come as a blow, then, but competent QPR custodian Robert Green has already been plucked from his club’s relegation battle to act as back-up.
Green has, by comparison, been protecting the posts for the side with the Premier League’s most porous defence this campaign. The Hoops look almost certain for the drop, but Green has been one of their better performers.
Undoubtedly picked for his England experience, despite having been mostly shunned by his country since his World Cup calamity against the United States in 2010, 12-capped Green will be aiming to prove he still has a Three Lions future.
With West Bromwich Albion number one Foster also forced to withdraw following knee surgery, England Under-21 and Stoke City star Jack Butland has been drafted in as further keeper cover. While the highly-rated youngster will likely be third-choice, Hodgson should seriously think about throwing the promising stopper into the fray.
Hart will undoubtedly keep his place in the starting XI against Lithuania, but a spot against Italy should be up for grabs. England may have their minds on Euro glory (and are 12/1 with Coral to lift the trophy across the channel), but Russia 2018 should also be on the radar.
Green will be 38 when the next World Cup (which England are 20/1 to win) rolls around, and Butland has a potentially higher ceiling. So, playing hierarchy should be discarded and, in the recent spirit of blooding youngsters, Butland should rack up his second cap.
Hodgson’s decision to select Tottenham’s flying full back Rose to replace Manchester United’s Luke Shaw is a little less clear cut. With rumours suggesting uncapped Rose could opt to represent Jamaica instead of England, after continuously missing out on the final Three Lions cut, this seems a smart move on the face on things.
However, despite Rose’s recent impressive performances under Mauricio Pochettino, he will likely still have to wait in line behind Leighton Baines and Kieran Gibbs, both of whom made the first draft.
The likes of striking starlet Saido Berahino, under-21 partner Danny Ings and even in-form Red Devil Ashley Young (who can also double up as defensive cover) could feel aggrieved to miss out on inclusion in the senior squad, with three left backs for two games seemingly overkill.
A little more attacking intent in the squad would have been welcomed but, if another full back was really required, Aaron Cresswell should rightly be perplexed after his omission, despite being one of West Ham United’s most consistent players this term.
With Harry Kane set for his first cap, and a raft of latecomers now pushing for a place, this should be an interesting international break for the Three Lions camp.