This time twelve months ago, Roy Hodgson was less than two months away from picking his England squad for Euro 2014. At the time he said "I have to do it on the merits of the players. It's not like it has been in the past sometimes where loyalty can be rewarded."
Fast forward 12 months and Roy’s sentiment seems to have changed somewhat. Discussing the selection of England’s most in form striker Harry Kane for England’s upcoming fixtures Hodgson stated “Often if someone like Kane is going to come into the squad, then someone is going to drop out and up until now most of the players that we've had, at least in the forward area of our squad, have done quite well for us during the autumn, so you can't include everybody unfortunately.” The England strikers Hodgson selected for England’s autumn fixtures were Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert and Saido Berinho. Table 1 looks at the performance of these strikers compared to other English strikers in the Premier League to assess whether they deserve to keep their place on merit or are selected based purely on reputation.
By contrast, looking at England’s strikers from their last squad we can see Saido Berinho, who didn’t feature in any of England’s games is highest scorer with 12 goals followed by Wayne Rooney on 10. Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck, England’s highest scorer in the World Cup qualifiers has only registered 4 Premier League goals ( 1 every 388 minutes) while Rickie Lambert has only registered 2 goals all season since his transfer to Liverpool (1 every 303 minutes). These rates are lower than Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch who have long been forgotten in the international scene.
Roy Hodgson announced his squad this morning which included Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Harry Kane in the forward line. Realistically, given Rooney’s position of England captain only three forward places were available in the squad. Hodgson’s selection seems to be a mixture of both form and reputation. In-form players such Berinho, Austin and Ings are excluded in preference to fit again Daniel Sturridge and ‘marmite’ player Danny Welbeck, England’s top scorer in qualification so far. Also, Harry Kane has been rewarded for his fine form with his first senior call up.
Hodgson’s selection can be considered a safe bet. England’s most in form striker has been included along with the players who have been there and done it. All the strikers are on the books at clubs usually challenging for Champions League places which begs the question whether Berinho, Ings and Austin’s form would have warranted a call up if they did not play for less attractive clubs such as West Brom, QPR and Burnley. However, that is a question for another day.
Stephan Brosnan is a research assistant working in the Department of Economics at University College Cork.