The announcement of the England squad for the latest round of World Cup qualifiers has left many fans and pundits scratching their heads. Fabian Delph has started this season in sparkling form, just like he finished the previous one – in England form, you could say. Even Robbie Savage was surprised that Delph had been overlooked.

Equally baffling is Hodgson’s failure to call up Gabby Agbonlahor, who has terrorised defenders with his explosive pace and who would surely have played more for England but for injuries ruling him out of games in the past.

Fans could also make a case for Ashley Westwood, whose passing is meticulous and calm and suits football at the highest level. Matthew Lowton might also be considered a contender.

Perhaps the problem lies with the competition for the spots they would occupy: Lowton would need to be selected over Glen Johnson and Kyle Walker. Johnson is held in high regard by Hodgson and Walker, as many Villa fans remember, is a talented individual too.

England’s central midfield is ageing fast but the likes of Gerrard, Lampard and Carrick still rule the roost. Villa fans know that Milner is also a good central midfield option. Delph and Westwood’s chances of playing for the national team may have been hindered by Liverpool’s first-half performance against Aston Villa recently: Liverpool dominated the midfield, and the game, until the second half, when the Villa players unquestionably showed that they will not be bullied by any team this season.

There is less sense in Agbonlahor not being involved because England lack options up front. Defoe is still getting picked by Hodgson and yet Villas-Boas has clearly decided Defoe cannot cut it at Spurs.

There are many benefits for Aston Villa if the club has players playing for England: an internal appearance brings with it a certain status and all the financial benefits that are attached to this. Fans also love to watch England with the added interest of seeing Villa players prosper in the side. I will never forget Darius Vassell’s debut goal for England against Holland as he slammed home in spectacular fashion and instantly secured his place at the 2002 World Cup.

However, it could be argued that there are plenty of disadvantages of Villa players playing for England. As their profiles rise and they mingle with players from other clubs, there comes the risk of them being tapped up or deciding that they could play for a ‘bigger’ club. This is possibly what happened with Barry, Downing and Young; it may have happened anyway but playing for England certainly did not help. Playing for England also involves added risk of injury, something that concerns all club managers.

Hodgson has been accused by some of favouring players at the big clubs. There are always arguments regarding whether he should pick players based on experience, form or status. Most England fans are unhappy that players like Sterling, Milner, Zaha, Young and Defoe are picked regularly even when they are playing poorly or not playing at all. To counter this argument, Rickie Lambert is due to start up front so Hodgson is looking beyond the traditional top six, although his view appears to be a restricted one.

I believe that Roy Hodgson must come to a game at Villa Park again soon and see what Villa have to offer. Furthermore, I would love to see Gabby playing in an England shirt in Brazil as I know in my heart that he would not let the nation down.

Roy, if you do take some of the Villa boys to Brazil next summer, don’t let any of them take a penalty kick! Remember Southgate, Barry and Vassell? You have been warned!


  1. Fist of all Kudos for writing a blog, and all of this comes with the utmost respect….But…..

    I’ll assume “Time for a visit”, is just headlineism, and does really appreciate England coaching staff miss nothing of English football either first hand or via video.

    But I’ve been amazed this week by Villa fans spectacularly overrating their players especially Gabriel Agbonlahor.

    Firstly, with a certainly plea for common sense. International managers usually pick players from teams near the top of leagues, because to state the obvious, teams near the top of leagues are usually there because they are filled with good players. Also, managers of top teams, (like the kind that didn’t try and buy Agbonlahor), usually try and buy other top players from teams slightly lower down.

    Next. You have a real case with Lowton. He looks, (despite being a defender in a team conceding lots of goals) like he is improving all the time. However not only is he behind Johnson and Walker, but he also behind “versatile” players like Smalling or Jones if you are trying to save a squad position.

    Agbonlahor…… seriously?

    I’ve made this point on twitter (@sportingeye) so many times this week, I’m actually starting to feel sorry for him.

    To start England mostly play with a central striker, Rooney in behind, and wide pace. I hope we can throw out the idea that he’s the “hole” replacement.

    Is he the central striker? He isn’t even that at Villa? Benteke (who I will come back to) does that job. I’m not a Defoe fan, but in a “like for like” comparison of a central finisher, 2012-2013 he played in a higher team, made more appearances and scored more goals, and in European competition. God help us but Rickie Lambert is a different kind of central striker. Welbeck (who most are happy to hammer) is a similar player to GA but 4 years younger.

    So is GA the wide pace? Maybe. But then you are in Lowton territory. There are too many taxis in the rank ahead of him. Walcott, Welbeck, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lennon even Zaha.

    Agbonlahor also suffers in my opinion from playing with Benteke. In the full games I have seen of Villa over the last 12 months, Benteke is so much better than most of his teammates, they actually come off looking worse than they really are.

    Ultimately if Lambert sticks to Lerner’s Thrift Shop Premier League model, some of the Juniors Villa media bang on about could end up filling England shirts. Not however if he keeps going down the Kozak route.

    Hope this is taken in the spirit its intended.

  2. No surely he shouldn’t replace Welbeck!!!

    Look at the competition.

    First if Sturridge is fit he plays. I’m sure he’d have played tonight if fit, you may have even had the line up I’d go for which would be a “front” three of Walcott, Sturridge and Welbeck.

    However, if he isn’t Hodgson has two options. A defensive Milner (which he’s likely to start with) or an enigmatic Young (if he’s chasing the game).

    Personally I two options which I’d prefer over Milner/Young/Agbonlahor.

    For me Oxlade-Chamberlain is future star, should he be fit, whether he’s playing regularly or not, I’d be playing him.

    If I was being Hodgson cautious and Ukraine are dangerous from wide areas, there is a final way. Baines and Cole are 2 of England’s 4 best players. In a smaller nation, one of them would have swallowed their ego and they’d both be playing. It worked for Cole and Bertrand in the Champions League final and that worked out OK.

  3. Good Stuff, enjoyed the read thanks for that…
    i highly rate our players at villa and fully agree that gabby would not let anyone down at the world cup and the experience would lift him even higher possibly?…BUT, at the moment i think worrying about England squads and world cups is really not what we need, i think we need to keep pushing and working on things in our own back yard first of all, for me personally having a villa player in the england squad at the moment would be a bad thing, seems to be a bit of a swingers fish bowl, end up coming back with a 4 yr contract for Liverpool ect… UTV!!

  4. Some thoughtful comments on here that are hard to disagree with.

    No one really mentioned Westwood, I assume most people don’t think he is quite ready for that?

  5. Sporting eye you don’t mention which team you support? i could evaluate your points of view if I know where YOUR loyalties lie? England would be a glib answer BTW

  6. You’re absolutely right I don’t state my club loyalties.

    If you feel you need to know them to evaluate my point of view, then frankly you are incapable of evaluating my point of view.

    Club loyalties are completely irreverent to this debate or any of the points I’ve raised.

  7. Well all us villans are saying is that on this occasion with England so short of attacking options Gabby would be a great option after all he cut Arsenal to pieces and gave Chelsea big problems so why are we at Villa”spectacularly overrating ” our players. For my money Jones and Smalling are not international class an I see nothing special about. If these players were performing at the same level there is no way Hodgson would include them in an England squad.

  8. All us Villa fans are saying……

    I know what you are saying. I can read it.

    I also didn’t come on here for a club-based defensive debate. Good luck to Villa, as someone who lives in the midlands its very sad this area of the country doesn’t have a single club that can compete at the top of the Premier League. I also have a blog too, so for those folk that write them I also think some feedback is nice, even if you respectfully disagree with the points made.


    For someone’s money?!

    What’s better? A player playing 28 games in a team that finishes 15th and spends most of their season in the relegation zone? Or players who play 22 (Cleverley), 17 (Jones) and 15 (Smalling) games for a team that are Champions?

    And all three of those players have opportunities in the Champions League, and all are YOUNGER! In other words, they’re picked on the players they have a chance to become as well as what they are currently.

    And lets widen this out before you accuse me of being a United fan. To a degree this has happened/is happening with Walcott, Wilshire, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Barkley and Rodwell……etc etc.

    Its no use saying “well if they played in the Villa team” or “if Agbonlahor was at the top of the Prem”…….because……THEY AREN’T!

    If Agbonlahor drags Villa up the league, I’ll bet your money he does get picked, or if he can’t but looks like he could, I’d bet some more of your money a “top” club will buy him.

    The fact is, Roy Hodgson and the current “top” managers feel he has more to do. Sure a performance or two at the start of this season are nice, they might even be the start of a run where he proves himself, but they aren’t grounds for a selection, even to this depleted squad. If you want a real pulse of how he’s viewed, its not Villa fans you need, its non Villa fans.

    I’d bet if you ask 100 fans of random clubs which player they’d pick to leave Villa join their team, ZERO would choose Agbonlahor.


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