Written by Andy Wood
Sam Allardyce has now been confirmed as the new manager of the England national team. Regardless of whether or not you think he is a suitable candidate for the job, he has undoubtedly been hired at a time where morale surrounding the team couldn’t be any lower. A stunning loss to Iceland only confounded sinking expectations, and now is the time for Big Sam to make his mark. One way that fans would like to see this happen is for Allardyce to make a statement and drop some of the supposed ‘stars’ and big names who have underwhelmed their reputations at major tournaments, and to instead turn to some of the unsung English talent of the Premier League. Here are some of the players who’ll very much feel they can change the fortunes of the team if given a chance.
Danny Drinkwater will have felt more hard done by than most to have missed out on Euro 2016. After playing a central role in Leicester’s famous title win, to see invisible man Jack Wilshere and career-long striker Wayne Rooney preferred as central midfield options will have hurt. The loss of midfield partner N’golo Kante at Leicester will increase the responsibility that Drinkwater will carry this season. Match this, and continue a strong link with Jamie Vardy, he can be a key player in a new look England midfield.
Like Drinkwater, Townsend reached the preliminary squad for Euro 2016 only to narrowly miss the final cut. In a team that lacked natural width and cried out for a player who could directly run at the opposition, it’s a decision that Roy Hodgson may feel he regrets. One of the few players to come out of Newcastle’s relegation season with any real credit, he’ll be hoping to find stability in his new move to Crystal Palace.
Another winger who will be looking to kick on this season, Zaha would certainly add something different to the England team. A direct runner who combines lightning pace with exuberant skill, his direct runs to the byline would torment international full backs in a way no one has quite achieved for several years in an England shirt. His biggest criticism would be an overall lack of consistency but some regular stand-out performances would excite Big Sam and the fans.
The Stoke ‘keeper will have been devastated to have picked up an ankle injury playing for the national team in a friendly match against Germany that ultimately ruled him out of the main tournament. Rated for several years as a potential future star, 2015-16 was finally his breakthrough season, playing 31 league games for Stoke and winning their player of the season award. After long time number one Joe Hart came in for criticism for his displays at Euro 2016, the door for a new goalkeeper may very well be open.
Another player who (arguably) missed out the Euros through injury. Shaw suffered a dreadful leg break in a Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven just as his season was starting to get going, having already featured in every league match for Manchester United up until that stage and also started to become a first choice left back for England. The most expensive British teenager of all time is still only 21 so his eyes will be on the left back spot for years to come. His attacking presence from the position is an advantage he has over most other contenders for the position but it may understandably take time for full fitness and form to return.
The Southampton academy graduate will feel that his natural next step will be into the senior international team after captaining the Under 21’s during the successful Toulon Tournament campaign. Ward-Prowse already has over 100 Premier League appearances to his name, so his experience at a top level is now at a sufficient stage, and a Europa League campaign with the Saints this year will only add to that. Throw in his dead ball ability, a glaring miss from England’s team this summer, and he looks like a very useful future option.
Charlie Austin is a player that may well have gone under a few radars having been one of England’s hottest properties only a year ago. He seemed certain to make a big Premier League move after registering 18 goals in his debut season. His team, relegated QPR, put the price up at the time putting off potential suitors.. His move eventually came in January with Southampton paying a cut price £4 million for his services, and after scoring on his debut against Manchester United, injuries unfortunately curtailed his season. However, he is proven goals at any level and his direct presence would be a different and welcome option for England going forward.
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Unlike the other players on this list, Welbeck has been something of a regular for England in the past, with 34 caps and 14 goals to his name. Sam Allardyce will want to see some questions surrounding the player answered though. Primarily, can he prove his fitness to hold down a regular place in the team? And just where is his best position in the team? A fully firing Welbeck is a major addition with his searing pace and clever skill, not to mention his goals. But despite his regularity under Hodgson, it’s likely Allardyce will need some convincing.
One of the Under-21 players to most impress at the successful Toulon Tournament campaign, registering 3 goals at the competition, Loftus-Cheek will feel as though 2016-17 will need to be his breakthrough campaign. He’s been on the edge of the Chelsea first team for a while now, and the arrival of a new manager in Antonio Conte will give him reason to impress and make his mark on a new era. The arrival of N’golo Kante will make that task harder, but Loftus-Cheek has a versatility about him that could set him apart. A strong physical player with a deft touch further up the pitch, he has a lot to offer in the future.
The only player on the list to have actually made the Euro 2016 squad, Rashford went to the tournament as the surprise pick, having only made 11 league appearances in his whole Manchester United career to date. Ultimately, the 18 year-old became the player many fans felt had been underused. His 5 minute cameo against Iceland saw him complete more successful dribbles than any other England player on the day, a demonstration of the different qualities he brings to the team. It’s unclear what impact the arrivals of new manager Jose Mourinho and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will have on his Manchester United season but the England setup will be hoping the momentum from his breakthrough season can carry on.
How many of these players should be given a chance? Do you see Allardyce making many changes? Let us know in the comments below!
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