Roy Hodgson’s squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifying fixture with the might of Moldova remains largely unchanged from those who made the trip east to Poland & Ukraine in the summer. The positive performance in the recent friendly win over Italy showed there is talent within the current crop of youngsters, but as injury to Wayne Rooney has made clear, there remains a lack of depth beyond the current squad.
The Premiership season may only be three weeks old, but already, players from outside the current squad have put their hands up with performances of note. Now in the case of some, it will possibly prove an anomaly of early season form that will drop away as the season gets in to full flow and the top sides shake off any rustiness and hit top gear. However if some of these players can maintain their early season form, a call up to Roy Hodgson’s squad would not be beyond the realms of imagination.
3 Players on the up…
He may only be three games into his top-flight career and his Southampton team may not have registered a point, but Ricky Lambert has looked more than capable of performing against the Premiership’s best defences, no better illustrated than his performance against Vidic and Ferdinand this weekend. At first glance he may seem like just another old-fashioned centre forward – big and strong, out-muscling opponents and winning aerial balls, and though he has that ability, there’s much more to his game than simple frontman. What has been evident from his first few appearances in the Premier League is an intelligence to drop deep and find space in the area between opposition defence and midfield. His movement is excellent and finishing has looked top-rate. With Rooney out injured for what looks to be a substantial amount of time and a lack of any genuine international quality elsewhere, if his form continues it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if we see Ricky Lambert in an England shirt before too long.
For many, a doomed season was predicted for Swansea, but last season’s breath of fresh air have continued in the same vein under new manager Michael Laudrup. Aided by some excellent Laudrup signings- utilising the manager’s knowledge of the currently financially-challenged Spanish league, ‘Swansalona’ have continued in their signature manner, passing teams out of the game, dictating the tempo and maintaining possession. Michu will, because of his goals, receive the lion’s share of the plaudits, but Nathan Dyer (and to a minutely-lesser extent Wayne Routledge) deserves plenty of credit. Combining electric pace with a deft touch and eye for a pass, it’s a wonder why a call-up has not been forthcoming already, especially when you consider he played in the same manner in Swansea’s debut season under Brendan Rogers.
When it comes to football, Paul Scholes is, quite simply, a genius. Robin van Persie may have made the headlines at the weekend with his first United hat-trick, but Scholes was the real star after he came off the bench to completely change the momentum of the game. Though it is probably too late to be basing any footballing principles on a 37 year-old, who came out of retirement half-way through last year, it should be the number one regret for any previous England manager who did not prioritise utilising the best footballer England have produced in the past three decades.