72% of the players who graced the pitches in the first year of a new top-flight league called the FA Premier League back in the early 90s were English. Since then the number of English players playing in the competition has diminished to just over 30%.
This has been overlooked by The FA, is now being overlooked by the media and the likes of Mike Parry. When questioning presenters of a sports based radio station, Porky raised the issue of where English talent is coming from within the league after Newcastle United only fielded one English player in Steven Taylor in their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City. Not one person on the radio show mentioned the likes of Aston Villa. With frustration and anger, I had been shouting at the radio, not realising the old dear next to me in the car was looking in shock at the profanity coming from my big gob in the early hours of the morning.
Many will suggest that Villa haven’t got much in the way of English talent. But for those who know Aston Villa and support the Midlands outfit we can reply like children, “Oh, yes we have!”
The likes of Nathan Baker, Matthew Lowton, Fabian Delph, Ashley Westwood, Gabby Agbonlahor and many of the young lads such as Gary Gardener and Marc Albrighton are sitting in the wings waiting to represent their country.
My mindset at the minute is if the likes of Rickie Lambert can be called up why can’t some of these Villa boys be called up to replace those who frankly cannot be bothered anymore as club rules over country? As my old man says, “If your country comes calling, you go!”
With this in mind, I’m going to justify why the following players are worthy of a call up to our national squad and maybe, just maybe, might be in the final squad that hopefully boards that plane to Brazil.
The Chesterfield-born right back has been a breath of fresh air since joining Villa last season. Lowton has been one of the most consistent right backs I have seen in the league for a long while. Many will remember Lowton for his screamer against Stoke, which put Villa closer to survival last season. But it is the performance against Sunderland which stands out for me: not only was the lad consistently brilliant through the game, but he found Andi Weimann for his goal with a beautiful cross field pass as well as picking the pocket of the left side of Sunderland’s 11 man squad.
This is a guy who Paul Lambert took the chance on and, for less than a million pound, next to Benteke, has to be one of the best purchases of last season.
Delphy has come on leaps and bounds since his transfer from Leeds United back in August 2009. The English midfielder looked a good prospect when Martin O’Neill signed him for around £6 million. But, due to injuries and sadly not having a good run within Villa’s starting 11, many considered Delph to be part of the dreaded ‘Bomb-Squad’. However, since appearing in Paul Lambert’s 11 throughout the 2012-13 campaign, Delph has come a long way and looks to have been reborn as a player. He proved against Arsenal that he isn’t afraid of breaking forward and having a crack if the opportunity comes along.
It would be very difficult for me to see Delph dropped for any reason after such a good pre-season and an amazing display down in N5 against Arsenal.
The 23-year-old midfielder just reminds me of David Platt. The lad never stops, is a rock in the midfield and plays some of the best pin-point passes I’ve seen since Beckham. When Vlaar and Westwood became unfit during the apprehensive December spell, I spoke my mind and said we’d miss them both but Westy more than Vlaar. We went on a ghastly run which, if it had continued, could have sealed Villa’s relegation fears. Fortunately, since his arrival back from injury, Westy has been a rock next to Delph in the middle of midfield.
If there is a next ‘Michael Carrick’ in the making then you need look no further than Westwood, in my opinion.
I’ll put my hands up: I was a bit harsh on Gabby since the lad broke into the senior squad all those years ago. I had been vocal about the forward’s lack of effort in between good periods of a season.
As I said, I’ll put my hands up and apologise as the Brummie lad has proved me wrong. Showing what he can do, Gabby was incorporated in many football writers’ and pundits’ “Teams of the Week” after his display against Arsenal. But the lad was a constant threat all of last season too and became Villa’s highest ever Premier League goal scorer – a feat which many within the Midlands outfit will struggle to emulate. After breaking Dwight Yorke’s record, it would not surprise me if he went to break the 100 mark.
Until then, his pace and eye for goal will strike fear into those defenders who see the 26-year-old running towards them or, more than likely, running past them!
What do you think? Do you think these boys deserve a chance to wear those 3 lions?
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