Making the grade: Which Team GB stars could play for England?
Following a jam packed summer of football, we have been able to bear witness to both the fate of the England national football team at Euro 2012 as well as Team GB’s first appearance at an Olympic games since 1960.
After Stuart Pearce selected a large number of players he knew from his trusted England Under-21 set up as well as five Welsh internationals, we may have already seen future England senior internationals in their infancy.
With the next Olympic games set to take place in four years’ time, Team GB’s Under-23 pros will use the meantime to heighten their burgeoning reputations domestically by breaking through into consistent Premier League starting 11’s whilst hoping to gain call-up’s to the senior England ranks.
For a long time now, England have milked off their so-called golden generation including John Terry, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard and the general understanding for Roy Hodgson and his team is that a new batch need to come through, step up to the plate and stake their claim for a spot in the 2014 World Cup squad.
But just who of Team GB’s current crop could cut it for a call up to the senior England team in the near future? Total Football’s Taylor Williams runs the rule over the matter.
Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley is yet to appear at senior international level for England but was granted with a call-up by Fabio Capello for a friendly with the Netherlands in August 2011 which was later cancelled due to the London riots of that year.
Following an injury-laden 2011/12 campaign at Old Trafford, Cleverley wanted to use London 2012 to showcase his comeback and he did relatively well in Stuart Pearce’s midfield, particularly in the game against the UAE whereby he used plenty of dynamism to interchange efficiently with partners Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Ryan Giggs.
Cleverley stands quite small at 5 ft 9 and is always alive, tricky and fast over short distances.
In this way, Cleverley represents the modern type of box-to-box midfielder well and there is nothing stopping him in becoming a regular England international of the future if he continues to mature at his current rate and receives extended playing chances under Sir Alex Ferguson at club level.
There has certainly been a shortage of top drawer goalkeepers in this country since David Seaman and whilst Joe Hart continues to stake his claim as the standalone outstanding choice between the sticks, his next challenge could come in the form of Birmingham City’s Jack Butland (pictured).
Butland’s name has been rife this summer following a surprise call up as third choice for Euro 2012 and for Team GB despite the everyday football fan not knowing too much about the 19-year-old, following a handful of experience after a couple of loans at Cheltenham Town.
Nevertheless, despite not figuring at senior level for his parent club, the hype surrounding the 6 ft 4 stopper hasn’t failed to abate and we could see what all the fuss was about at London 2012.
For his age, Butland commands his penalty area magnificently and you forget he is so young at times.
Despite a few ill-placed goal kicks on a few occasions at the games, Butland is learning all the time and he certainly looks the real deal going forward. The Clevedon-born stopper possesses good reflexes and pulled off a magnificent one handed save against Neymar in the pre-London 2012 friendly at Middlesbrough.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Steven Caulker stands out as a potential heir to the England centre back throne with his impressive 6 ft 3 frame and calm assurance at the back.
Caulker stood out compared to his nervy, elder defensive partner James Tomkins and the former has had a lot less experience than the West Ham United man in his career thus far.
A lot will depend on whether Caulker will be able to continue his progression consistently at White Hart Lane under Andre Villas-Boas and this is questionable considering Spurs strengthened with Jan Vertonghen this summer as well as possessing Michael Dawson, Younes Kaboul and William Gallas when fit.
Caulker has flourished on loan, especially at Swansea City but he will feel he is in no better position than at present to stake a claim and become Jan Vertonghen’s central partner with Dawson often plagued by injury and Gallas in the twilight of his career.
The 20-year-old certainly weighed in with his fair share of blocks as Team GB came to terms with the attacking onslaught of the opposition at London 2012 and Caulker possesses decent recovery speed despite his domineering height.
All looks in place for Caulker to succeed and go forward to claim an England senior berth in the future. Whether this will be at Tottenham or elsewhere remains at large.
Elsewhere in the squad, it would be fair to surmise that the rest of the squad needs to work even harder to be truly recognised at senior England level.
Scott Sinclair had been mooted for a call-up after an impressive 2011/12 at Swansea but the winger failed to nail down a starting berth for Team GB consistently, despite an impressive showing as an impact sub against the UAE.
Of course, Micah Richards figured as one of the three over-age players for Team GB but his relationship with England remains fractious after the Manchester City man has been overlooked countless times despite impressing consistently at club level for Manchester City.
Ryan Bertrand looks a comfortable deputy to Ashley Cole at club level and he could follow this lead at senior international level also but a lot will depend on his development and whether Kieran Gibbs can once more make a push as he is the first choice left back at Arsenal.
Jack Cork, Marvin Sordell, Danny Rose, Craig Dawson, Jason Steele and James Tomkins are the outside bets for an England senior call up at some point in the future but in football nowadays, it only takes one successful season to turn all fortunes around.
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