Among the more controversial calls from then-England manager Roy Hodgson for his Euro 2016 squad was the decision to select Jack Wilshere ahead of Danny Drinkwater.
Wilshere barely played 100 minutes of football last season, while Drinkwater had just had the campaign of his life as he played a pivotal role in Leicester’s Premier League title win.
Nonetheless, the Arsenal man was selected, and though it wasn’t down to him, England proceeded to embarrass themselves at the tournament in France.
At the time, Drinkwater couldn’t hide his disappointment at having been overlooked.
Disappointed not to make the final 23! Would of been a fantastic experience to go to the euros as a player… https://t.co/js2WM4qpHW
— Danny Drinkwater (@DannyDrinkwater) May 31, 2016
Speaking to Talksport on Friday, former England assistant manager Gary Neville has explained why the decision was taken – as well as the one to select Ross Barkley and John Stones ahead of West Ham captain Mark Noble and Phil Jagielka repsectively – insisting that those players were taken as Hodgson had “invested” in them, and that they couldn’t be left out just because were not in good form:
“We didn’t pick Danny Drinkwater over Jack Wilshere because we had faith in the ability of Jack Wilshere.
“That’s not to say no-one can break in, but when you go down the route of investing in John Stones, you can’t then pick Phil Jagielka over John Stones for the tournament. You have to invest in John Stones, even though Phil Jagielka might be in better form.
“We didn’t pick Mark Noble, even though he might have been in better form than Ross Barkley, because we invested in Ross Barkley. He was our man, he was the person who was the most talented player.”
Neither Stones nor Barkley saw so much as one second of action in France, while Wilshere had to make do with two substitute appearances and a starting appearance against Slovakia in which he lasted for less than hour.
The 24-year-old has recently moved to Bournemouth on a season-long loan (though has not been picked for England since), while Drinkwater was named in Sam Allardyce’s squad last month, but not Gareth Southgate’s this time around.