Roy Hodgson named his first England squad since the World Cup, including four uncapped players: Calum Chambers, Danny Rose, Fabian Delph and Jack Colback. When I first saw the squad, the biggest surprise to me was the inclusion of Newcastle’s Colback. However, after further examination, a combination of circumstance and merit means that Colback probably deserves his place in the squad.
Roy Hodgson took nine midfielders to the World Cup in Brazil. Two of those players have now retired; Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Another two of those players are injured; Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley. Hodgson has been forced to make changes to his squad that desperately needed freshening up. We saw the beginning of this over the summer with the inclusion of Luke Shaw, Raheem Sterling and the previously mentioned Ross Barkley. Now I’m not saying that Colback has been as good as those three players, but he is certainly young enough to have a meaningful future at international level.
England have lost the services of Gerrard and Lampard, two of their finest midfielders. Looking at the other options England have in central midfield, surely Colback is an obvious choice? Hull City’s Tom Huddlestone may be a brilliant passer of the ball, but is he energetic enough in the middle of the park? No. A fantastic player on the ball, but not so much off the ball. Gareth Barry is at an age where he doesn’t have a future at international level, despite his strong performances for Everton. Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has looked very promising for a few years now, but this round of internationals may have came a little too early for the 19 year old. Lee Cattermole’s name has sporadically been thrown around too when discussing the national side. The less said about that the better.
Many Sunderland fans have been in uproar following Colback’s call up. It was deemed unreasonable that Colback should be ignored for so long during his time on Wearside, but as soon as he crosses the river to Newcastle, he’s named in Roy Hodgson’s squad. Colback’s selection is not solely based on his performances for Newcastle, despite arguably being their best player in their opening two games of the new Premier League season. Colback had been one of Sunderland’s most consistent performers last term, playing in a side that was threatened with relegation throughout, despite showing flashes of brilliance following the arrival of Gus Poyet.
Dubbed the ‘ginger Pirlo’, Colback rarely gives the ball away and works tirelessly in the centre of midfield. He may not have the sheer class or beautiful beard of Andrea Pirlo, but his retention of possession can keep England ticking along just fine.