Tony Gillan's column: Let's not be cynical, has Alan Shearer got a point about reputations of '˜lesser' club's players?
Alan Shearer has put one straight between the eyes of Roy Hodgson by declaring that Danny Drinkwater's omission from the England squad is wrong.
Shearer reckons that Hodgson has gone for “reputation rather than form,” referring to the Leicester midfielder’s exclusion. The reason for this as proffered by Hodgson sounded somewhat disingenuous.
He said: “We decided we’d go for an extra attacker.”
England do indeed have five, rather than the usual four forwards. But Hodgson’s response was a virtuoso display of deliberate point missing. Shearer wanted another midfielder to make way for Drinkwater.
Throughout 2015-16, Drinkwater was a pivotal player in England’s best club side, playing in all but three of Leicester’s league games.
Ten points behind Leicester were Arsenal, whose overrated Jack Wilshire made just one start. That was on the final day against those football warriors Aston Villa. He was replaced in the 69th minute.
It isn’t Wilshire’s fault that he’s been injured, but his last full 90 minutes in the PL was on September 13, 2014, which hindered his cause; or rather, it should have.
My only question of Shearer would be whether he is referring to the “reputation rather than form” of the players or their clubs.
Andros Townsend only missed England’s 2014 World Cup through injury; otherwise the then-Tottenham midfielder was a cert.
Sign up to our daily newsletter
The i newsletter cut through the noise
On January 6 this year, with Townsend the subject of transfer speculation, this column said of him: “He has not started a PL game since April 11 last year and has not played an entire 90 minutes since March 16, 2014.
“Yet despite not managing a full game in a nudge off two years for his club, only injury has kept him out of the England squad since his international debut in October 2013.
“Only the grubbiest cynic would read anything into this. But if and when Townsend does leave White Hart Lane, he may soon be wondering why he is immediately deemed not good enough to represent his country.”
I can’t claim much credit for merely writing what was being spoken in every North East pub – and it has come to pass. Townsend has so far been better for Newcastle than Spurs, a rare positive in their awful season. But as expected, this did nothing to get him to France.
Scoring goals for Tottenham was always enough to secure Jermain Defoe membership of the England squad. Doing the same thing for Sunderland is arguably more impressive as they are a weaker side.
Nothing doing Jermain. You never had a chance. Hodgson “explained” Defoe’s omission with some waffle about his age and his “certain style of play,” without bothering to elaborate, or mention that Defoe is as fit as ever.
None of this is new. It’s gone on for over a century. For players at “certain clubs” to represent England they must make themselves completely un-ignorable, like Jamie Vardy – or Shearer himself when he was at Blackburn.
It’s true that Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton has made the squad. But he won’t get on the pitch and it will take rather more than a token gesture to convince us grubby cynics.