My England XI – A Team Picked on Form Not Reputation

With the next international break on the horizon, I will run through my ideal England starting line up for the upcoming fixtures. The England team is constantly picked on reputation and not the form of players. If the form of players were taken into account, we would see a much better national side. That is unlikely to change as England do not have a strong enough manager to change the current trend.

Goalkeeper – Ben Foster

This was a very tough decision, I was trying to choose between Ben Foster and Tom Heaton of Burnley. I chose Ben Foster because in the last few games he has produced some brilliant performances. Foster is a consistent performer and deserves a chance for England. West Brom beat Bournemouth 2-1 yesterday, Foster produced a fantastic last minute save to ensure West Brom fans went home happy. Foster has kept five clean sheets so far this season, something that both he and Tony Pulis will want to improve. The West Brom goalkeeper has played a huge part in what has been a very successful season for the Baggies.

Right Back – Kyle Walker

Over the last few seasons Kyle Walker has really developed as a player. It is no surprise to me that Walker’s development coincided with the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur. Kyle Walker has produced five assists this season and has a very respectable tackle success rate of 74%. When Walker moved to White Hart Lane he struggled to perform on a consistent basis. The defender has no such troubles now, consistently putting in solid performances at right back. He has great pace and is a real threat on the attack.

Centre Back – Lewis Dunk

Highly regarded as the best defender in the Championship, Lewis Dunk has been an outstanding performer for the Championship leaders – Brighton and Hove Albion. I am sure people who do not follow the Championship will raise their eyebrows at this selection. However he deserves a chance in the England squad. England have struggled defensively for a while now, often lacking communication at the back. Dunk offers some much needed steel at the back. Dunk has been named man of the match four times this season. The defender has played a huge part in Brighton’s challenge for promotion.

Centre Back – Michael Keane

Keane was called up to the England squad last year, he surely should be involved this time around. Not getting a game for England last time, I hope he gets some minutes for the national side if he is picked. Keane who had an eventful game against Hull City yesterday, giving away a penalty before going up the other end to score the equaliser. In my opinion Keane and Dunk would compliment each other very well in the heart of defence. I left Gary Cahill and John Stones out because you always feel there is a mistake in them. At 24 Keane still has time to develop his game. I see him as being an England regular in the near future.

Left Back – Danny Rose

A pretty easy decision for me, I had to go with both of the Tottenham full back because they are such a threat going forward. Danny Rose has a tackle success rate of 68%. He has only been on the losing side in the league once this season. Like Kyle Walker he has great pace, you always fancy him to beat a player to the ball. Rose has put in some great performances for England and long may it continue.

Right Midfield – Raheem Sterling

I have to admit, he is usually a player that frustrates the life out of me. However, this season under Guardiola he has been a constant threat. Scoring six goals and also providing six assists. Sterling will be hoping to get past the ten goal mark this season, for a player of his quality he should be getting around twelve goals a season. His finishing has improved under Guardiola but it still needs work. He has great pace and can deliver a decent cross. With Kyle Walker over-lapping it’s a really strong right side of the pitch.

Centre Midfield – Jonjo Shelvey

I have been shouting from the rooftops that Shelvey must be involved in the next England squad. He is a completely different option for England, a forward thinking player who rarely plays the ball backwards. Under Rafael Benitez at Newcastle United this season he has been outstanding. He has created a shed load of chances for his teammates. Consistency was always a problem for Jonjo but he has found that this season. Shelvey has scored four and made seven assists so far this season.

Centre Midfield – Dele Alli

World class? Not just yet. Alli has great potential and he will be one of the world’s best in the next few seasons. People need to remember that he is only 20, there is a tendency to put too much pressure on young players. Alli has scored twelve times in the league this season and providing two assists. It is certainly an attacking midfield, though Shelvey and Alli can chip in defensively, Shelvey being the more likely to anchor the midfield.

Left Midfield – Adam Lallana

A player who can play in a variety of positions – I had to include the Liverpool midfielder. This season for Liverpool he has scored seven times and also provided seven assists. He has really developed under Jurgen Klopp this season. Lallana has a great delivery, always creating chances for the attackers. I think Lallana is a very underrated player – he does not get the credit he deserves.

Striker – Harry Kane

A player who scored a hat-trick today against Stoke City – he is having another fantastic season scoring 17 goals so far and providing 4 assists. Many questioned whether he would be another one season wonder. I think he has answered those questions this season. Kane is a constant threat, his all round game is fantastic and he is constantly improving. Kane has a great understanding with Dele Alli, Tottenham are certainly reaping the rewards of that partnership.

Striker – Dwight Gayle

I don’t know what this man has to do to get some credit. Strangely going under the radar far too often. He has scored 20 goal this season for Newcastle United. He became the first player to score 20 goals in a season since Alan Shearer for Newcastle United. Gayle scores different types of goals, he is an absolute menace for defenders. Like Kane and Alli’s understanding – Shelvey and Gayle have a great understanding, Gayle’s movement is outstanding and Shelvey seems to find him with effortless ease. I was surprised when Crystal Palace let him go, at only 26 years of age Gayle still has plenty of years ahead of him.

 

Many people will feel that the three Championship players shouldn’t be in the team, the people who say that probably do not watch Championship football on a regular basis. Something needs to change for England, I am sick to death of players being picked when they do not deserve the right to pull on the shirt. There are of course other players to consider such as: Ross Barkley who has finally found some consistency at Everton, he is playing some of the best football of his career to date – I would be very surprised if he does not get called up to the squad in a few weeks time. Jermaine Defoe should be in Gareth Southgate’s thinking, he is Sunderland’s only hope this season, they rely on him heavily. If it wasn’t for Defoe’s goals this season I think Sunderland would be cut a drift. Andy Carroll, he has recently picked up another injury, however when fit he is one of the best centre forwards England have. Carroll has made twelve appearances for West Ham this season, scoring six goals. Will Hughes and Tom Ince at Derby, both are having brilliant seasons – it is about time we saw the England manager do a tour of the Championship and he would see for himself the quality there is in the league.

This is very unlikely to happen, though it’s nice to dream and think about. I just think it would be really refreshing to see an England manager pick a team of players who have earned the right to play for the national side. That is where England have gone wrong for so many years, constantly picking players because they play for one of the top teams in the Premier League. Until that changes England have no hope of winning a tournament. It sounds very negative but it’s reality.