In a previous post, which can be found here, I discussed whether England’s strikers were selected based on form or reputation. While discussing the findings I noticed that all of the strikers selected by Roy Hodgson for the upcoming Euro qualifiers were on the books at Champions League chasing clubs. This got me wondering about the significance of a players club when being selected for international duty and specifically whether playing for clubs lower down the Premier League table hampers a players chances of selection for internationals.
Data from fantasypremierleague.com has been utilised to compare the number of players selected from each club by Roy Hodgson against the best performing players in Fantasy Premier League over the course of the season. Figure 1 shows the number of players selected from each club by England for the qualifier against Lithuania and friendly versus Italy. Three clubs have four players in the current England squad, Manchester united, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs followed by Arsenal and Everton with three players each in the squad. Before the injury to Fraser Forster Southampton had two representatives along with Manchester City. Aston Villa and Chelsea make up the rest of the clubs represented with one player from each team included. Out of the nine teams which are represented in the England squad, eight finished in the top eight in the Premier League last season with only Aston Villa finishing outside the Premier Leagues top 10.
When players are selected by overall points throughout the season players from clubs down the lower end of the table emerge as optimum picks. West Brom and Crystal Palace who do not have any players featuring in the current England squad each have two players included when the squad is selected according to overall points with Saido Berinho, Jolean Lescott, Scott Dann and Jason Puncheon all performing better than other English players in the same positions. Players from clubs such as QPR (Charlie Austin), Burnley (Kieron Trippier), West Ham (Stuart Downing) and Newcastle (Jack Colbeck) are also included when the squad is selected according to players overall points.
None of Arsenal’s three inclusions in the England squad (Theo Walcott, Kieron Gibbs, Danny Welbeck) would be included in a squad based on overall score while Manchester United’s Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Michael Carrick also miss out.
It is evident that the England is squad is made up of players playing for the top teams in England. According to the data, players plying their trade outside of the Premier Leagues top clubs may find it very difficult to break into the England squad. The question remains whether Jolean Lescott would still be in the squad had he stayed sitting on Manchester City’s bench or whether Theo Walcott would still be an England regular if he had been sitting on Crystal Palace’s bench as opposed to Arsenal’s. It seems likely that the fastest way for young, up and coming English players, such as Danny Ings and Saido Berinho, to break into the England squad may be to hand in a transfer request and hope the Premier Leagues big boys come calling rather than putting the head down and improving their performances at their current clubs.
Stephan Brosnan is a research assistant working in the Department of Economics at University College Cork.