A View From Below

Sporting debate and opinion

England’s future midfield engine: the jacks in the pack

England’s midfield engine has been about two men for the past decade: Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Together the pair have ammassed almost 200 senio caps, although the debate over the effectiveness of the two playing together has not been answered, and probably never will be.

However, the emergence of a couple of young midfielders has given the national side hope that the central berths can be occupied by talents that have the potential not only to become as good as Gerrard and Lampard, but compliment each others game.

These players are two future stars; Jack Wilshere and Jack Rodwell.
This year had been Wilshere’s , after coming back from a spell Bolton Wanderers at the back end of the 2009/2010 term where he made 14 appearences in the Premier League, scoring once.
This season has been fragmented for Rodwell, although he has begun to hold down a regular spot in a talented Everton midfield recently, after missing a chunk of the early part of the league out injured.

Wilshere has become a key player for his club Arsenal and has 4 senior appearances to his name for England, singing the tenacious midfielder’s praises as the most impressive young player in the world and labelling him a future national team captain.

Rodwell, it could be argued, enjoyed a more succesful 2009/2010 than Wilshere and his own achievements this year. Even so, he is quickly developing as a determined tough tackler, and can perhaps have suffered from his own versatility, being able to play in central defense, the defensive midfield spot and as a box to box midfielder. He has been deployed further up the field this season by manager David Moyes, as he has looked to capitalise on the finishing ability suggested by Rodwell so far in his short career.

Wilshere is lauded across the country as the future of England, and in North London; as the future of Arsenal Football Club. His performance against Xavi and Iniesta in the Champions League, particularly the home time that the Gunners won 2-1, was simply sensational. Wilshere has not scored goals like Rodwell has, although being principally placed in the midfield runner spot for Arsenal he is so technically able that he could add such an attribute to his game in the coming years.

Both players have been selected for the upcoming U-21 European Championships and may begin to forge the beginning of a potentially dominating partnership. Wilshere will become a player in the shape of Cesc Fabregas, although the youngster from Hertfordshire has an air of Paul Scholes to his game, both sharing an appetite for a crunching challenge.
Rodwell will most likely end up a box-to-box midfielder, although his defensive tendencies and physical attributes mark him out as a Patrick Vieira type.

It is apparent that England have been in transition since the humiliating defeat to Germany in the 2010 World Cup. Bringing through Wilshere has been a good decision by Capello, but with Lampard ageing, Gerrard consistently injured and Barry never fully convincing, there is a chance that an emerging player could accompany Wilshere in the middle sooner rather than later.

Whilst it seems likely that Wilshere will star for England in next summer’s European championships, Rodwell has a job on his hands to make the squad. However Capello is an admirer of the Southport born midfielder, and his has the opportunity to impress this summer with Pearce’s fledgings when they take on the rest of the continent.

If I was Capello, who is likely to walk away from the job after the tournament in 2012, I would be considering Rodwell as a member of that touring squad, whilst wary of the experience that Barry/Lampard/Gerrard would add to the side. If not next year, then perhaps 2014 will be when Rodwell is given the chance to flourish on the big stage.

There have been questions about Rodwell’s capacity to play at the highest level, despite persistent rumours linking him with a £20 million move to Manchester United; and Wilshere has been accused of recklnessness in his tackling this season. However, both players undoubtedly are looking at a bright future in the game, and it can only be to England’s benefit if they star alongisde one another in Denmark in a few months time, despite concerns being aired by Arsene Wenger over burnout of his gem, Wilshere.

Stuart Pearce knows only too well the possibility of player fatigue, having controlled the U-21 squad since 2007. However as Wilshere has himself said, playing in competitions like this can only help his progression.

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May 8, 2011 - Posted by | Football

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