Crucial to both the team and the footballing nation as a whole—no pressure, guys—Roy Hodgson has acknowledged that England expects a big performance from his side this week. However, it isn’t just the team as a whole that needs to perform.
Here, we profile three players who are in particular need of a good showing for their country: Kyle Walker, Jack Wilshere and Frank Lampard.
The man currently in possession of the right-back shirt, Walker has started England’s last three fixtures to bring his total number of caps to eight. The Tottenham full-back has yet to look totally comfortable at the international level and needs a good performance if he is to permanently dislodge Glen Johnson.
Suffering from similar criticisms to those experienced (and eventually conquered) by Johnson earlier in his international career—namely being better whilst attacking than defending—Walker is likely to hit double figures in caps this week and needs to start producing performances befitting of such status.
Last time out against Ukraine, Walker was frequently caught out of position during a torrid time for the Spurs player up against Yevhen Konoplyanka. Walker’s attacking tendencies can be clearly seen in the action areas map of his performance in Spurs' opening day win over Crystal Palace, where he made almost 18 percent of his touches near to the Palace byline.
Whilst he can get away with positional naivety at the club level, he cannot at the international level, and the jury is still out on Walker as an international class full-back. A good pair of performances this week would go some way to alleviating such worries and put him ahead of Carl Jenkinson and Phil Jones as England’s back-up right-back.
Through little fault of his own, Wilshere has yet to get going at the international level. Plagued by injuries in recent years, this week is the perfect opportunity for the man touted by many as a future England captain to announce his international arrival.
After a tumultuous period in which the Arsenal man has suffered poor form, was pictured smoking and waded in to the international eligibility debate, Wilshere needs to let his football do the talking.
A good performance Friday night could cement his place as a central figure for club and country and send a timely reminder to Arsene Wenger that his talents are wasted in his current left-wing brief.
His heat map (above) from the recent Swansea game shows the extent of his club frustrations, as he frequently left his left-sided position to come central to try and exert some influence. Friday night should allow him the opportunity to impress in his preferred central role.
The graph above shows Wilshere’s Squawka performance scores over the season. The performance score for each game measures and weighs different player actions across the pitch, with a higher bound of 100 per game. Wilshere has been floating around the lower reaches of our performance score all season, and Friday night’s game is the perfect chance for him to return to form with a bang.
If he can produce the kind of international performance he’s so far only shown in glimpses, then he can prevent recent controversies and form from lingering into his next club game.
A mainstay of the side for so long, Lampard is facing a serious challenge for his place. This week represents a rarity amongst England games—a fully fit central midfield for Hodgson to choose from. Lampard is the man in most danger of losing his place to the emerging Wilshere and Tom Cleverley, given Steven Gerrard’s status as captain.
That’s even if there is a third centre midfield berth.
If Daniel Sturridge can secure a place in the side, then it is likely that he will come in for a midfielder with Rooney playing in a deeper No. 10 role.
Twenty-nine goals in 100 internationals, alongside 15 for Chelsea last season (above), make Lampard the safe option for the shirt. But if he stops delivering, then Carrick and Cleverley are ready and waiting. All of this makes it imperative that Lampard produces over the next few days.
Team and player football stats from Squawka.com.