Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a shock inclusion by Roy Hodgson in the England’s 23-man squad for Euro 2012 which also includes former captain John Terry, uncapped Norwich keeper John Ruddy and Liverpool duo Andy Carroll & Stewart Downing but Rio Ferdinand misses out.
The Arsenal teenager who has made just six Premier League starts this season in his first full campaign at Arsenal has won his first ever senior England call-up ahead. The 18-year-old told Arsenal’s official website:
“I’m obviously delighted, to be picked for your country at any stage is a massive honour and to be at a huge tournament likes the Euros is such a bonus. I think I play with no fear, I run at players regardless of who they are and try to make a difference. I have a youthful enthusiasm and I am so excited about this that I will try and take any opportunity with both hands. I will just try and make things happen, although I know there are other players who can do that. It will just be nice to get the opportunity and I will see what I can do.”
John Terry who has a pending court case after the Euros is also in the squad ahead of Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand – whose omission was highly anticipated last night. Reports suggested Ferdinand was left out because of his personal issues with the Chelsea skipper but Hodgson denied it by saying ‘it was purely a footballing decision’:
“It was purely a footballing decision. Rio is a man that I both respect as a player and as a person. I don’t know him well personally, but I have seen enough of him over the years to realise what a fine footballer he is and what a good person he is. But I had to make a footballing decision and to decide on the basis of what I have seen in recent months, and it was influenced to some extent by the fact that Rio hasn’t played so much since the World Cup and has only played once for England in the last year. So it’s purely a footballing decision and it was a hard phone call to make because you hate to disappoint people, but I hope Rio can accept my decision and understand that it was based purely on football and nothing else. I have spoken to both of them, I had to do that. I left the decision to talk to both of them until after the final game of the season because there may not have been a need to talk to either of them because there might have been an injury or whatever. But in the last couple of days I have spoken to both of them and explained to them why I came to this decision.”
Speaking about the Chelsea skipper who has guided his team to FA Cup glory and a Champions League final this season, Hodgson said he picked Terry purely on his form in the second half of the season and has no worries about the pending court case:
“If we take the court case first of all, that’s obviously very unfortunate for him but at the moment we must emphasise that he is an innocent man until such time as proven guilty. As a result, my decision with John Terry was again based purely on footballing matters. I was given a free hand as to the squad I picked and I realised that when I selected him there would be people who raised their eyebrows, but that is the decision I have made and that’s the decision I shall live with. I believe that John Terry, especially in the latter part of the season, has played very well. I know you are going to come back and say he shouldn’t have done what he did in Barcelona, but I am looking over a longer period than that and I think he has played well. I think he has played an important part in Chelsea’s FA Cup final victory and an important part in them reaching the Champions League final. Therefore, I selected him because I think he is the man for the job. I’m hoping and believing that he will help us win matches.”
Micah Richards failed to win a ticket to Poland-Ukraine despite his excellent form for Manchester City in their title winning season, while Phil Jones was selected as a backup right-back for Glen Johnson as Kyle Walker and Chris Smalling were ruled out due to long term injuries. Hodgson said about the keeper’s marriage & the absence of Richards:
“I was considering Kyle Walker before he dropped out. In Phil Jones I have a player who is capable of playing right-back and centre-back. It was going to be one of Phil Jones or Micah Richards and I chose Jones.”
John Ruddy who is another uncapped player in the England squad along with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, will provide goalkeeping back-up to Joe Hart and Robert Green after staking his claim for a place in the squad with a series of assured performances between the posts for Norwich. Hodgson said:
“We don’t have so many English goalkeepers to choose from but I think John has had an excellent season and Norwich have had an excellent season. They have really taken the Premier League by storm and he has been a very important part of that team, so when I was looking for somebody to back up Joe Hart, who is the obvious No.1, and Robert Green, who is the obvious No.2, I turned to John Ruddy.”
The inclusion of the Liverpool striker Andy Carroll ahead of the likes of Peter Crouch, inform Grant Holt and Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge raised a lot of eyebrows, but Hodgson said he has no worries about Carroll:
“He is a different type of player to the others in the squad. He is able to hold the ball up and has that aerial ability which is very useful. He also has the ability to make those runs behind defenders and use his strength and power. I spoke to Kenny at great length about him because I don’t know him particularly well as a person. One can easily be tricked by perceptions of players and what you hear or read about them, but Kenny was absolutely convinced about the players’ ability and his personality and his seriousness as a professional. When I heard that it meant I had no further reservations.”
The rest of the England squad has no surprises as regular internationals like Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Joe Hart, Wayne Rooney, Gareth Barry, Ashley Young, Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, and James Milner are in the side for their country’s first Euro appearance since the Euro 2004.
Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck was also included in the squad following his outstanding form for the Red Devils in his first full season at Old Trafford, while Everton’s left-back Leighton Baines is in the squad as a backup for Ashley Cole.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was appointed by Hodgson as the England skipper for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland-Ukraine. The former Fulham manager who worked with Gerrard during his short managerial time at Anfield said:
“In my opinion, he is the man who merits this award or distinction. I know him, of course, as a player. I know him as a person. I know how committed he is to the England cause. He was delighted last night when I told him of my decision. I will be counting on him to help me as much as he possibly can to build the type of team unity and the type of environment that I think is going to be very necessary for us to thrive in an important tournament.”
Roy Hodgson’s England will play a couple of friendlies against Norway and Belgium before they travel to Ukraine finals of Euros 2012 and face France, Ukraine and Sweden in Group D.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Rob Green (West Ham), John Ruddy (Norwich)
Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man United), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Man City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton)
Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Man United), James Milner (Man City)
Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Danny Welbeck (Man United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)
Standby: Jack Butland (Birmingham), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Johnson (Man City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea).