With England manager Roy Hodgson due to name his England squad for the European Championships later this week, the debate as to who should be included has begun in earnest.
Whether or no the likes of Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott or even captain Wayne Rooney should or should no be included is a massive talking point, and it remains to be seen if Roy Hodgson keeps faith in the youthful exuberance of the side that humbled world champions Germany on their own soil recently, or if he reverts to conservative type.
The list almost certainly be based on a combination of form and reputation, but using statistics website whoscored.com, here is how the squad would look were it to be based purely on statistics for the 2015/16 season:
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With Jack Butland injured, the role of Joe Hart’s understudy is there to be taken. Fraser Forster is expected to be selected as number two goalkeeper, which leaves one final spot. In terms of experience, West Brom’s Ben Foster has eight England caps to Tom Heaton’s zero – but the statistics for this season would back the inclusion of the Burnley keeper.
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This would certainly be a gamble from Hodgson. While a first choice backline of Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling, Phil Jagielka and Danny Rose would not be controversial (in fact it may be close to the actual lineup, only with Gary Cahill in Jagielka’s place), the backup four in this panel is made up of four uncapped defenders from two sides in the bottom seven in the Premier League table.
How three Bournemouth defenders have managed to play well individually whilst conceding 64 goals is a mystery, but given the fact that that Hodgson has confirmed Cahill will play an important role in the squad, the England boss will go for experience on this occasion.
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The midfield has a bit more of an experienced look about it, with five of the seven players listed having ten or more caps. Of the two who don’t, Tottenham’s Dele Alli is poised to announce himself on the world stage should he have a strong tournament.
There is a strong Liverpool presence with three members of Jürgen Klopp’s squad listed, with at least two of those three virtually guaranteed their place on the plane to France. Andros Townsend, meanwhile, could be something of a wildcard – Hodsgon definitely rates him, and his strong form since signing for Newcastle in January may yet see the former Tottenham man sneak into the squad.
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This is where Hodgson’s biggest headache will arise. He has repeatedly stated that Wayne Rooney will go, so it is likely that the Manchester United and England captain will simply slot in where Andy Carroll is named above, but even then his form suggests that he should not be starting.
Vardy and Kane have both done enough to earn a starting spot in England’s lineup, while Sturridge and Welbeck have both returned strongly from injury, so it will be intriguing to see how the manager plays this one.
In any case, all of Troy Deeney, Theo Walcott, Jermain Defoe and Marcus Rashford are set to miss out.
Of course, it would be far too simplistic to suggest that the squad should be picked on statistics alone, but the form guide does indicate that Hodgson will have one or two serious selection problems to navigate through before he names his squad on Thursday.
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