The England team was lethargic in Warsaw on Wednesday—perhaps they were tasked with assisting the Polish FA with closing the roof that afternoon—but whatever the reason, they needed an injection of fresh faces, and fresh ideas.
Kudos to Roy Hodgson for Tom Cleverley's selection, but other than that? The team selection was fairly predictable, and tired. With a squad of 23 to choose from—many of which were new additions in recent weeks—which four players should Roy Hodgson have started vs. Poland, and for whom?
I'll give you a clue. One of them isn't Andy Carroll.
Kyle Walker may not be on top form at the moment, but I question whether Glen Johnson is either.
Johnson seemed the safe choice for this game, and although we don't know what goes on behind closed doors, I'd much rather see Walker sprinting up and down the flanks instead of a lumbering Johnson.
Walker will surely be a contender for England's No. 1 right-back in Brazil, so perhaps it's time to start giving him some minutes to allow for a settled back four come 2014.
What more does Ryan Shawcross have to do to get an England game?
A consistently superb performer for Stoke City since joining from Manchester United, he has been tipped for an England call-up since 2009. Although that first call-up did come in 2010, he had to wait two years for another one, and still didn't set foot on the turf.
Shawcross, who seems to be the most patient man in football, is still waiting for his debut senior cap, and I am bemused as to why. Perhaps it will take a move to a "big club" before he becomes recognized as one of the best English defensive hopes now and for the future.
If you Googled "wasted chance", the first image that appears would be a picture of James Milner—or it would if there were any sense in the world.
James Milner has been poor since, well, ever—and yet he continues to be at the forefront of most manger's minds. The Ox, on the other hand, has been sublime for both club and country, capping off a great start to the season with his first ever international goal against San Marino on Friday. However, yet again, he was limited to a substitute appearance.
I never thought I'd ever back Aaron "can't cross for toffee" Lennon, but he has been one of the most in-form players of the season so far.
This slide may be a cheat as I have already picked a replacement for James Milner—but I think Lennon deserved at least an appearance from the bench, if not a start for his fine performances so far this season, especially after a two-year international exile.
To be honest, starting anyone ahead of Milner would be okay by me.
Even Andy Carroll.