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Is Wayne Rooney the right man for the England Captaincy?

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After a summer of deliberation, international retirements and self-reflection in the England set-up, we’re finally drawing close to a new dawn with regards the England team. A new squad has been selected by Roy Hodgson to face Norway next Wednesday and, in the first competitive game since that thrilling 0-0 draw with Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte, a clash Switzerland on the following Monday.

The new squad is exciting, a mixture of youthful zest, some familiar faces from the Premier League, and a smattering of experience – actually, a smattering is a bit of an exaggeration – which will no doubt hail in a new era for the England team. Roy Hodgson can do a lot with this group; the chalkboard should, essentially, be almost clean – and with just 398 caps between the 22 members of the squad, the average member of the squad has played just over 18 games for England – they’re not exactly tarnished by the lack of “passion” supposedly shown in tournaments of yesteryear, yet.

In this sense, it’s clear to see why Hodgson has picked Wayne Rooney as the captain, his marquee man in the squad; with 95 caps to his name, Rooney has one cap less than double his nearest challenger in the cap-count, James Milner (who has 48, stunningly), and would quite clearly be an important head in the squad, even without the throes of captaincy. With the retirements of Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, most of the other credible captaincy options have been exhausted – fleeting campaigns for the cases of Gary Cahill and Joe Hart aside – and so it’s understandable, obvious, even, that Rooney should take up the armband vacated by the aforementioned Gerrard, and worn by many legends; Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Bryan Robson, Alan Shearer, David Beckham.

Rooney, admittedly, isn’t in that league yet – his international career peaked at 18, and has essentially been a poor tribute act to Euro 2004 since the broken metatarsal against Portugal – but, whether rightly or wrongly, his name will have always been remembered among those anyway, given that, at 28, he’s in a great position to smash both Peter Shilton’s cap record and Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record. He should enter his peak as we move towards Euro 2016, and so is a good choice for a hopeful qualification to the tournament, too.

The question marks perhaps entail this: Rooney’s place in the England team has been up for discussion for a while. At the World Cup, Roy Hodgson even seemed to admit this, shoehorning the Manchester United forward into an unfamiliar left-wing role, as Raheem Sterling impressed in the central berth Rooney would’ve been expecting to take up. For all the will in the world, England have to play their strongest team and, if the coach wasn’t so sure about that at the World Cup, preferring to play a 19 year old who had just had a break-out season to a 28 year old veteran, and captain-elect, it’s perhaps understandable that there would be some concerns about the direction of the squad, and the team itself. By 2016, Rooney will be 30 – he’s not exactly a long-term choice. Plus, given that he’s never really captained a team at any length before – only recently picking up the Manchester United armband, after ten years of service – when leaving experience aside, Rooney isn’t an obvious choice.

It has to be said, though, the other “front runners”, if you will, aren’t obvious choices either – they’d essentially be the next best choices in a squad with a bit of a leadership dearth. Gary Cahill has very little experience of captaining a side too – less than Rooney, in fact – at Chelsea, he plays alongside the very vocal John Terry, whereas for England he’s beside Phil Jagielka – or, maybe as the campaign moves further on, a younger centre back such as Phil Jones, John Stones, maybe even Steven Caulker or Curtis Davies – which is a big step-up in responsibility on its own, without the added pressure of captaincy. Joe Hart would perhaps be more sensible – he should remain in the England squad for most of the next decade, form and fitness permitting – but as a goalkeeper, he’s an important head in the camp nonetheless and, given that he’ll be cajoling his defence for 90 minutes anyway, adding the responsibility of captaincy might make little sense. Equally, with Willy Caballero for his club and Southampton’s Fraser Forster for his country, Hart has some reliable deputies who could easily take over the number one shirt and not relent if given the chance.

One alternative which is surely mind-blowing – one which would make a lot of sense with a young, inexperienced squad where there are few guaranteed starters, and the need for experience before a major tournament in pretty much all areas of the pitch – but nonetheless wasn’t considered, is perhaps to scrap the captain nonsense for a couple of years.

Yes, a captain has his role in the team, and on the field having a leader – or multiple leaders – is definitely important, but essentially, Roy Hodgson could have waited until choosing his squad in 2016 to pick his captain, thereby allowing a bunch of youngsters to grow in stature together on the international stage, all knowing they’re playing for places, and that they have to be vocal on the pitch to push each other on. A captain, in a qualifying campaign at least, is largely important for media commitments – Hodgson could just nominate senior players to handle that, like at the World Cup – while on the pitch, the armband could be rotated around several players in the squad to find someone who really relishes the challenge to take England forward.

It’s perhaps unrealistic to expect such a thing to happen – clearly, given that Rooney was selected by Hodgson – but would be an interesting route to go down with such a youthful squad; at the end of the two-year qualification process, we may have well found that Rooney can be the inspirational captain the Three Lions need, but nailing him on as the captain now could perhaps allow complacency in his international performances to creep back in, and stifle some of the younger players in the England set-up from coming to the fore as leading players. That, perhaps, is the only real bone to pick with the choice of Rooney as captain.


Is Wayne Rooney the right man for the England captaincy? Join the discussion in the comment section below, or on Twitter @TBRFootball.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

Arsenal

Three Arsenal youngsters who could help England bring football home in 2022

The Gunners’ academy continues to develop some of the very best youngsters.

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Arsenal
Photo: Getty Images

After a successful tournament got the nation dreaming, England fell at the penultimate at the World Cup and may require Arsenal‘s help in 2022.

Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad exceeded pre-tournament expectations and suddenly Greg Dyke’s objectives for the 2022 World Cup seem within grasp – and the Three Lions now have four years to build towards glory in Qatar.

Come November 2022, when FIFA has confirmed the World Cup will commence, Southgate is likely to call upon a number of the players who starred for the Three Lions in Russia but changes to his squad are also inevitable.

“The two targets I have for the England team are – one, to at least reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and two, win the World Cup in 2022.”

– FA Chairman Greg Dyke reveals his ambitious plan in 2013.

Fortunately, English football is breaming with exciting young talent at the moment and Arsenal may hold the key to success with three of their most highly-rated prospects.

Eddie Nketiah

Bursting onto the scene in November 2017, Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit at the Emirates Stadium after netting twice against Norwich City in the Carabao Cup. Since then, the 19-year-old forward has gone on to make three Premier League appearances.

Competition for places at Arsenal is fierce, particularly following the captures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the past 12 months, which means he may have to be patient to get his chance – but the situation is entirely different on the international stage.

In four England U21 appearances, Nketiah has scored two goals, per TransferMarkt stats, following on from eight goals in eight games at U18 level and four goals in two games for the U17 side. In just over a year, Nketiah rose to Aidy Boothroyd’s U21 ranks from the U17’s and shows no signs of stopping his rise.

(Photo by Bertrand Langlois/Getty Images)

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Becoming a regular for Arsenal in Arsene Wenger’s final season at the Emirates Stadium, Ainsley Maitland-Niles showed his versatility by catching the eye playing as a full-back. His natural position is in midfield though and this is where he could be of value to England.

It is fair to say that England’s options in the middle of the park sitting in front of the defence are extremely limited, with neither Jordan Henderson or Eric Dier doing enough to cement their spot in the position for the long-term.

Maitland-Niles could become the man England are looking for in the coming years and further first-team experience with Arsenal looks set to follow under Unai Emery, as the 20-year-old penned a new long-term deal with the Gunners last month.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Reiss Nelson

Arsenal fans have been excited about 18-year-old Reiss Nelson for a while now and saw the teenager break into the fringes of the first-team last term, as Whoscored data shows he finished the campaign with 15 appearances across all competitions.

Eight of those opportunities came as a starter, including two in the Premier League, and there is every chance Nelson could earn further action under the guidance of Unai Emery next term – especially as Alex Iwobi has not done enough to warrant continued action.

Should the Nigeria international continue to suffer with poor form, the eight-cap England U19 international could be Arsenal’s breakthrough star of the year – following in the footsteps of players like Maitland-Niles, Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin.

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England

Who will bring football home? England’s predicted World Cup 2022 squad

Players from Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and even Bristol City feature.

Mathew Nash

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England were desperately close to making it into the World Cup final, after defeat to Croatia in the semi-finals.

The Three Lions did however bring back some pride and promise from the long-suffering England fans.

With England also the World Under-17 and Under-20 Champions, the future is brighter than ever.

So who will be at the World Cup in 2022?

It seems impossible to guess four years in advance. Not many would have suggested the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire or Jesse Lingard four years ago.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The squad, hopefully, will not change much and the experienced players in the squad will likely still be around.

However, for the sake of the article and debate, anyone who will be over 30 in 2022 has been ignored. That leaves Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jordan Henderson, Fabian Delph, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in the cold, even if some of them will likely be present.

Eric Dier also got nudged out, as his form recently has been a concern and Nick Pope has been replaced.

So who makes the XI and the overall squad of 23?

GOALKEEPERS

Jordan Pickford

The Everton stopper cemented his place as England’s new number one during the quarter-final triumph over Sweden. Highly-rated by club and country and with excellent distribution it will be no surprise if he remains England’s first-choice in 2022.

(Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Jack Butland

What a deputy. The Stoke City goalkeeper could easily be our number one. The Potters relegation will hopefully not set him back and he should push Pickford for years to come.

Angus Gunn

The son of a Scotland international has so far rejected their international calls. Recently joined Southampton for £13.5 million and will hope to cement his place as a Premier League regular.

Honourable mentions: Nick Pope, Freddie Woodman, Dean Henderson.

DEFENDERS

John Stones

Despite one lapse of concentration which cost England crucially against Croatia the Manchester City man was excellent in Russia.

If he maintains a starting place at City and his career is not derailed, then Stones will be one of the leaders in Qatar.

Harry Maguire

Became a national hero this summer. A swashbuckling defender with an eye for a goal and a great meme. Should be a multi-cap England international.

Joe Gomez

Replacing Kyle Walker as the pace-man in a back three is Liverpool’s Gomez. If he can combat his recent injury troubles he will be a certain future England player. Remember how he shackled Neymar back in November.

Jamaal Lascelles

For many people, the Newcastle captain should have been in Russia ahead of Phil Jones or Gary Cahill.

Rightly so. A brilliant leader who would slot into a back three perfectly and deserves to be in the England fold for the next four years.

(during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St. James Park on April 15, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Dael Fry

The Middlesbrough defender is one inclusion that may cause derision. But this lad is extremely talented.

A reliable defender, good with the ball at his feet and a favourite at St George’s Park. Fry will hope to emerge as an England hopeful in the years to come.

Honourable mentions: Eric Dier, Alfie Mawson, Michael Keane, Ben Wilmot.

FULL-BACKS/WING-BACKS

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Already in the England picture and shone v Belgium. Will likely play in the ¾ play-off this weekend. In four years he might be playing in the final.

Jonjoe Kenny

A tough call this but the Everton defender is like the Kieran Trippier to Alexander-Arnold’s Walker-like characteristics.

Whilst the Liverpool man has the pace and the power Kenny is more deliberate and his crossing is fantastic.

A favourite with the England youth management and the eventual successor to Seamus Coleman at Goodison Park.

Honourable mentions: Kyle Walker-Peters, Dujon Sterling, Steven Sessegnon.

Ryan Sessegnon

A shoe-in for 2022 if he remains fit and healthy. The Fulham star is perhaps England’s most exciting prospect.

He might even be considered an attacker by 2022 but for now, he would be an excellent left wing-back and will hopefully make his England bow this season.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Joe Bryan

This might be the biggest swing and potential miss in the squad. The Bristol City star is wanted by a host of clubs this summer after his fantastic form at Ashton Gate.

But he is a hard-working and super-fit young man who, given the right opportunities, is easily capable of playing for his nation.

Honourable mentions: Lewis Gibson, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell

MIDFIELDERS

Lewis Cook

Absolutely adored by the England camp the Bournemouth man has already made his England debut. More positive in his passing than Jordan Henderson and more dynamic than Eric Dier, he is surely the future of England’s composed holding role.

Harry Winks

Set for a big break at Tottenham this season he has the potential to be an England star. If he can overcome his current injury trouble he would seem like being a shoe-in for 2022.

Phil Foden

England lacked a midfielder who could pick the locks of the Croatia defence in the semi-finals. This is the young man to do just that. The Manchester City youngster needs to break into the first-team fold but given what he has already achieved that should not be a problem.

(Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

A lot depends on his next move, as Chelsea does not seem to be the right place for RLC to develop.

Showed in all his England performances that he is a talent to keep an eye on for the future and England will surely nurture him.

Dele Alli

May not have set the world alight in Russia, but the Tottenham star’s talent cannot be overlooked.

If he can get to the level he is capable of, then Alli is a 100-cap man with ease.

Jesse Lingard

Can he continue to prove people wrong for another four years?

Excellent at the World Cup and been in fine form for Manchester United. If he continues to progress in this way, then he should still be in the England set-up four years from now.

James Maddison

A tough choice considering the wealth of attacking midfield talent but the Leicester newbie seems the most likely to reach the levels necessary to play at a World Cup.

The £24 million talent can play a number of positions and is a special talent the Premier League will enjoy watching next term.

Honourable mentions: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ross Barkley, Jack Grealish, Kieran Dowell,

FORWARDS

Raheem Sterling

He divided opinion among some at this summer’s World Cup. But under the guidance of Pep Guardiola he will continue to improve.

Whether out wide or through the middle, England will surely stick by the attacker.

(Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Harry Kane

The nation’s current captain and front-runner for the Golden Boot award at this summer’s tournament it is hard to see how he won’t lead the line again in four years time.

If he keeps going at his current rate, Kane will surely take Wayne Rooney’s goal-scoring record for England.

Ademola Lookman

Some felt the Everton attacker was unlucky not to go this summer. After thriving on loan at RB Leipzig it seemed he might make a late lunge.

This summer is big for Lookman. He needs to decide where is best to carry on his career which could be key to a future England career.

Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United talent can surely only get better. If he can become a regular starter, wherever he happens to play his club football then the teenager will hope to secure a place in Qatar.

Honourable mentions: Dominic Solanke, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Eddie Nketiah.

Who did we miss? Can England bring football home in 2022?

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England

Three Everton players who could help England bring football home in 2022

Everton have a long list of top talents coming through that could make it into the England team.

Mathew Nash

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England are out of the World Cup following defeat against Croatia in the semi-finals last night. But the future looks bright for England. They had the second youngest team in the tournament and are the current under-20 and under-17 World Champions.

So who could help them bring football home at Qatar 2022?

When looking at Everton’s current crop, it is hard to pick just one.

Ademola Lookman is an excellent attacker, although could be on his way. Callum Connolly’s versatility makes him a manager’s dream whilst Tom Davies had a brilliant 2016-17 season, even if last term was less impressive.

But here are the three Everton players who might have a chance of heading to Qatar in four years time.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Like England’s summer hero Harry Maguire the 21-year-old came through the ranks at Sheffield United. Since joining Everton his progress has been astonishing.

He is already a hero for England. He scored the winner for England’s under-20s last summer as they won the World Cup.

With striking positions set to be up for grabs in four years time, DCL will no doubt be in the running.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Kieran Dowell

The spindly playmaker is adored in the England and Everton set-ups for his God-given natural talent.

Stormed into a loan spell at Nottingham Forest last season, which admittedly dwindled toward the end.

But with his dexterity and ability, only injury and himself could hold Dowell back from making it to Qatar.

(during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Everton at The King Power Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Leicester, England.

Jonjoe Kenny

Dowell’s best mate and England’s trusted right-back at youth level. His cross-city rival Trent Alexander-Arnold may be catching the eye but Kenny is no slouch.

An exquisite crosser of the ball and defensively sound he is the Trippier if Alexander-Arnold is the Walker of England’s future right-back choices.

Like Dowell, eligible for Ireland, so England, must ensure the Everton pair are aware of their pathway.

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