You won’t meet many people who think England won’t get out of their World Cup group next summer. A pot which includes Belgium, Panama and Tunisia should not hold any fears for Gareth Southgate. But the manager is worried that a lot of his players are not getting enough game time in the Premier League to be considered for his team.
I understand the arguments about being match fit, match sharp but the suggestion that only club regulars should start for England in the friendly with Italy at the end of March and then at the tournament itself seems strange logic.
I am old enough to remember the perennial excuse for England fans in every phone-in, in every broadsheet and tabloid after a championship exit. It went like this…. “Ahh, but those players were exhausted. They had run out of gas. The Premier League/First Division season took its toll” and similar comments.
So actually we should have no expectations about the performances of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling, Harry Maguire and Kyle Walker, who’ve played whenever they have been able for their clubs this season.
But there is a large proportion of that squad considered for the game against Panama that will include Marcus Rashford, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, John Stones, Jack Butland, Daniel Sturridge, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose to name a few, who will be as fresh as a daisy. No breakdown fears for them. Fit as a robber’s dog, able to peak for those biggest of games in Russia.
Surely there is a massive advantage that they’ll be raring to go, fit and fresh? I am just pleased that we won’t be hearing that same old excuse again in July?