At the forefront of Palace’s early season surge to the top were two Englishmen, Scott Dann and Wilfried Zaha. At times the two have been the Eagles’ only bright sparks during the recent abysmal run. Despite their efforts, their impacts lately haven’t been as great as many would have hoped.
At the start of December, the two players had a strong case for a call-up to the England squad in the run-up to Euro 16. Both players were snubbed, arguably quite unfairly, from the Spain and France friendlies back in November.
Considering the fact neither Dann nor Zaha are England regulars, in the next run of matches they will have to help Palace lift their form in order to stand out to Roy Hodgson and get the recognition and trip to France they deserve.
In an England side that always seems so drab, there is no reason not to rotate the squad and give some of the lesser names a go. Including some players innocent to the nonchalant culture towards international football creates some competition in international sides. These lads will push the established stalwarts to improve and perform if they want to hold on to not just their spot, but also their reputation.
Zaha, an energetic, young, pacy winger, and Dann, a guts and glory leader of men, both fit the archetype of passionate players who would contribute to the England side whether its from the bench or not.
During the last run of games, Dann’s desire to end the rot has been unquestionable. With 2 goals in the last 3 matches and consistent performances it’s hard to really fault him. Barring a couple of occasions, it has been his center back partner, Delaney, or one of the full backs lulling asleep and committing cheap giveaways consistently.
Realistically though, Dann will only get a call-up if Palace pick up their form. It’s hard for a player to shine if the club itself isn’t. Considering England team selections in the past, English players at top clubs seem to get called up more often, regardless of how good they are.
Due to the injury troubles of England regular, Phil Jones, a spot may be waiting for him. The fact that Jones has mustered just 10 matches up to February makes his sharpness going into this summer dubious. If Palace can bounce back and shed better light on Scott Dann’s performances then he may be in for that spot.
Palace are going to have to improve quickly though. Uncapped players rarely get a call-up to the national side and with England’s next friendly at the end of March against Germany, the Eagles have to get on the case quick.
Zaha also deserves a spot in the England squad. In the last few matches, the consensus among many Palace fans has been that Zaha is one of the only players that visibly appears to want to impact matches. Slaloming down the wings, putting defenders on edge, and whipping teasing balls into the box throughout matches, Zaha has shown both his desire and talent in recent matches.
His form has been harder to recognize recently considering the lack of assist statistics to make him shine, however in the last three matches (Watford, Swansea, and Bournemouth) Zaha has created 9 scoring opportunities and bagged one assist against Bournemouth. In all of these recent matches Zaha has seemed the most likely to swing the tie in Palace’s favour.
Zaha adds energy to the side. When his emotions are in check, Wilfried’s talent takes on a new dimension with aggression and physicality. In a flat England side, Zaha could provide a game changing spark. Simply sitting on the bench Zaha could have an impact, testing and probing the established wingers and forcing them to be at their best to keep their place.
Considering Jesse Lingard’s recent call up in Novemeber, it’s only fair that Zaha gets one too. Both players are at 23 but Zaha has bags of experience at the top level in comparison. Zaha has played 1875 minutes this season compared to Lingard’s 836.
The team not only owes it to itself and the fans to improve, but also to these two talents who may never get a better opportunity to represent their country at a major tournament.
Featured image: all rights reserved by Richard Fisher.