Should these England players be on the plane to Russia?
As the season draws to an end, the World Cup opening ceremony also draws ever nearer. Unless you have been living under a non-football saturating rock you will know that the 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia this summer, despite protests and political call-outs, Russia will proudly host the tournament. 32 teams will make the trip with hopes they can go down in the history books.
Gareth Southgate and his England team will be one of those 32 teams and although I know we say it every four years, there’s a real sense of optimism around England’s hopes. Why? Because Southgate has implemented a youthfulness to the squad, thus diminishing the security of more established players’ places in the squad.
Here are three established English players that don’t deserve to go to Russia.
It’s unfortunate for Daniel Sturridge that his injuries haven’t allowed him to flourish as the great striker he was meant to be. The 28-year-old joined West Brom on Deadline Day in January as it was clear Jurgen Klopp no longer valued his services. He wanted the move, so he could ensure he’d be on that plane to Russia, however, things haven’t worked out like that.
Since then, Sturridge has made a grand total of four appearances in the league, scoring zero goals. The worst thing is, the striker will cost West Brom around £4 million in wages, equating to a million an appearance. Just to add insult to injury, it’s more than likely that the Baggies will be relegated in the coming weeks. It’s sad but it’s safe to say that Daniel Sturridge’s international career is over.
Gary Cahill has been far too average for far too long. It’s only in 1v1 situations that the world gets to truly understand how below par the Englishman is. Since moving to Chelsea, the 32-year-old has had the benefit of playing under great defensive managers like Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. These managers have implemented systems at the Bridge that cover for the individual flaws of Gary Cahill.
At best, he’s a competent system-based defender that relies on the those around him to help him. Gary Cahill’s defensive incompetence has been the source of Chelsea’s failures this season as he’s mad 25 appearances in the league. In that time, the 32-year-old has only averaged one tackle per game, 0.6 blocks per game whilst on average being dribbled past 0.4 times. (according to WhoScored.com). With younger defenders like Michael Keane, Chris Smalling, Calum Chambers, James Tarkowski, Harry Maguire and John Stones around, Gary Cahill’s place on the plane to Russia cannot be justified.
With 75 caps to his name, it’s safe to say that Joe Hart has had an illustrious international career. But all good things must come to an end and the 31-year-old shouldn’t have a place in Gareth Southgate’s future plans. It’s not as though Hart isn’t a competent keeper anymore, he’s just not better than the current crop of England’s goalkeepers. In today’s age, Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Fraser Forster are all more assured options than the West Ham keeper.
This season, the Hammers no.1 has only kept four clean sheets from 19 league appearances. That’s abysmal form and a pivotal reason in why West Ham has conceded 67 goals in the league, whilst dangling three points off the relegation zone.
Joe Hart has done OK as England’s no.1, but he embodies how England have always been average but never good enough.