Roy Hodgson’s Wildcards: 5 shocking inclusions in England’s Squad
England boss Roy Hodgson named his squad for next week’s friendly with Denmark at Wembley this afternoon, handing a few slightly surprising call ups to a number of players that currently look to be on the fringe of his squad.
The game is the last chance for Hodgson to experiment before he names his squad for the World Cup this summer, leading to a bumper 30 man squad instead of the usual 23 player party, and is the final opportunity for players to impress the national boss at close quarters.
Here are five of the surprise selections that will be looking to leave an impression with Hodgson over the next week.
The headline grabbing inclusion in the squad, the highly rated left-back has long been touted for international recognition and has been perennially linked with big money moves to Chelsea or Manchester United. One of a quartet of Southampton players, marking the first time that the Saints have had four players in an England squad, Shaw has made 24 league appearances this season, creating 18 chances.
Shaw has made 105 clearances and 20 interceptions this season. The 18-year-old has also won 51% of his headed duels and 59% of his tackles.
Looking to add to his solitary international cap, Caulker is recalled to the squad in order to cover for the injured Phil Jagielka. The former Tottenham man has been in fine form for Cardiff this season, vindicating his decision to leave White Hart Lane to secure more first-team football.
Only Hull’s Curtis Davies has won more aerial duels than Caulker in the entire league this season, with Caulker coming out on top in 104 of his 175 contested headed duels.
Two of these found their way into the back of the net, while the centre back has also made 243 clearances for the Bluebirds this season.
Given the state of England’s striking options this may not be a total surprise, but for a player who is set to start winding down his career in Canada with Toronto FC Defoe’s inclusion still comes as a bit of a shock.
Unable to nail down a regular place in the Spurs side this season, 11 of Defoe’s 14 league appearances have come from the bench. With just one goal and three league starts to his name this season, Defoe is unlikely to trouble the England starting line up this summer and must impress this week if he is to have a chance of making it to Brazil.
Defoe has a conversion rate of just 7% this season, scoring one goal from 14 attempts.
Overlooked for the last World Cup, Foster will be looking to go one better and make the squad this time around. This comes despite the fact that Foster has barely played for the national side in the time since the last World Cup, having ruled himself out of international selection for a two year period that conveniently finished as the build up to Brazil 2014 started.
Foster has made 13 league appearances for West Brom this season, keeping two clean sheets, and is one of four goalkeepers selected in Hodgson’s squad, alongside Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and John Ruddy.
A fixture of recent squads, but still a surprise given his club form. A player that cannot hold down a place in a horrifically dysfunctional Manchester United midfield is hardly a player to hang your international hopes on.
Had he not been playing for United, then it’s pretty unlikely that Cleverley in his current form would be nowhere near this week’s squad and the likes of Gareth Barry, Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Mark Noble can feel hard done by to be behind Cleverley in the pecking order on current performances.
Cleverley has averaged 0.62 chances created per 90 minutes played this season, fewer than Noble (1.69), Huddlestone (1.61), Barry (1.19) and Livermore (1.2).