The breaking news this Wednesday is that West Brom coach Roy Hodgson has been appointed England manager on a four-year contract.
Never mind all the talk of Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp as the fans’ and the players’ favorite; Hodgson was the only candidate approached, and the focus should now be on the future.
Of course, Hodgson’s appointment has generated a lot of questions—whether he was the right choice, how he will handle the big stars in the England dressing room.
Let’s address another important one—who Hodgson should take to Poland and Ukraine this summer.
More specifically, let’s consider eight squad players whose inclusions aren’t dead certain yet, but whom Roy Hodgson should include in his Euro 2012 squad.
As usual, feel free to have your say in the comments below.
The first name on this list is curiously not an England squad regular, but will be a familiar face to Hodgson.
West Brom’s Ben Foster has been a quite solid Premier League goalkeeper in recent seasons, but he hasn’t enjoyed too many chances at the international level.
Which, given Joe Hart’s imperious form, isn’t a surprise, but Foster’s non-inclusion in any recent England squads definitely is.
Instead of Scott Carson, who is currently playing in Turkey, or Fulham’s No. 2 David Stockdale, Ben Foster should be England’s backup keeper this summer.
John Terry should be on the plane to the Euros this summer.
It’s not about whether or not he’ll be found guilty of racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand this summer.
It’s about players with seasoned international experience who have a proven track record at handling big-game pressure and on-field leadership.
John Terry, for all his faults, is that man.
There are plenty of hot, young defensive prospects for England—like Manchester United’s Phil Jones and Chris Smalling—but John Terry remains England’s premier central defender.
Let’s just put it this way—who would you want defending or attacking a corner in the 89th minute of an international game?
Another Chelsea old-timer makes his way onto this list, and with good reason.
Frank Lampard was written off just a few months ago, when ex-manager Andre Villas-Boas so wanted to look past him into future generations at Stamford Bridge.
But Lampard has bounced back with a vengeance, and is now, alongside Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea’s top scorer in the league this season with 11 goals.
Much has been made of Lampard’s inability to gel with Steven Gerrard for England, but having both in the England squad would mean having two players who have enjoyed stellar careers, and whose match-winning abilities could be a lifesaver in any situation.
And to reiterate, his situation is completely different from Theo Walcott’s in the 2006 World Cup.
Back then, Walcott was an untried youngster who hadn’t even appeared in the Premier League.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, however, has turned in stellar performances in both the Premier League and the Champions League, and has proven to be an exciting prospect.
His fantastic debut season in the Premier League saw him nominated as PFA Young Player of the Year despite only notching 15 league appearances in an Arsenal shirt.
No, he won’t be the second Theo Walcott. Rather—remember a certain Michael Owen in 1998?
Oops. Didn't mean to start the hype machine.
In the absence of Wayne Rooney, who better to provide a spark up front for England than Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge?
He might possess a strong selfish streak, but Sturridge has that all-too-rare ability to beat his man and score a goal.
The fact that he has been able to keep a sustained first-team place in the presence of Chelsea’s world-class stars on the wings and up front, and under two managers, speaks volumes toward Sturridge’s quality and potential.
Sturridge embodies both England’s present and future, and should be given ample opportunities to shine this summer, especially in those Rooney-less games.
“Unconventional” is probably the best word to describe Peter Crouch’s game.
But the Stoke man provides an excellent option up front, and an ideal Plan B for England.
His aerial threat and clinical finishing would pose plenty of problems to many an international defence, and his record of 22 goals in 42 international appearances is no mean feat.
And who wouldn’t love to see the famous Robot Dance once again this summer?
Regardless of whether they win the title in a few weeks’ time, Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck has shown over the course of the season that he is ready to mature into a striker fit to lead the line for England.
His pace, energy and physical ability can occupy the attentions of many defenders, leaving space for England’s attacking midfield riches to move into and capitalize.
And while his finishing might still have some ways to go before he can be considered a world-class predatory striker, he is still capable of notching that spectacular goal, especially when the stakes are high.
So not only would Welbeck’s inclusion be just reward for his fine improvement this season, but it might just have the potential to reap great rewards for Roy Hodgson.
Not to mention that he has dovetailed with Wayne Rooney spectacularly…
Yes, Wayne Rooney should be on that plane to Poland and Ukraine this summer.
Whether he’s England’s only world-class player, or whether he’s massively overrated, isn’t even relevant here.
What’s relevant is Rooney’s playmaking abilities, finishing and all-round contributions to the England team.
And for that reason, even though he will be missing the games against France and Sweden, he should be considered for the last group game against Ukraine.
He’d bring quality into the final third—but only if the likes of Sturridge and Welbeck don’t turn in performances in the first two games that justify their inclusions in the starting lineup against Ukraine.
What do you think? Did I miss anyone out? Let us know your views in the comments below.