England manager Roy Hodgson has named his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine. Before we get into who's in and who's out, let's take a step back and remember these are qualifiers. Not friendlies. Let's also remember that England also remain two points behind Montenegro in Group H, albeit with a game in hand. Still, by the end of this round, Ukraine could conceivably on top and England could find themselves down in third.
With that in mind...Roy, what are you smoking? Sure, there are arguments for having a consistent squad and including experienced players. Yet Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend have been handed their first senior callups. Townsend, when you consider the end of last season and the beginning of this one, has been solid for Tottenham Hotspur and likely deserves his cap. Barkley had that one decent game for Everton, but hey, Roy decided to hang out in the stands.
Then there's the likes of Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Raheem Sterling and James Milner, who, combined!, have less than an hour of time on the pitch this season with their respective clubs. Oh, and let us not forget super sub Jermain Defoe. Apparently Hodgson believes that benchwarming is a skill that translates well into England duty.
Meanwhile, the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor, Fabian Delph and Ashley Westwood are still staring at their silent mobiles, waiting for a call to come. Sure, Westwood doesn't attract a lot of attention and Delph is probably still trying to erase the image of him being totally incompetent, but there's absolutely no excuse for not including Agbonlahor. Not a one. He was immense at the end of last season and continues to be a beast through the start of this one. And for God's sake, Ashley Young is in the squad.
But, you know, having players from Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs, Everton and Arsenal is the most important thing.
On the plus side, we don't have to worry about any players getting hurt on duty with England. So there's that, I guess.
Full England squad
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Celtic), Joe Hart (Manchester City), John Ruddy (Norwich City).
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur).
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Tom Cleverley (Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).
Forwards: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Rickie Lambert (Southampton), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Ashley Young (Manchester United).