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With England’s Euro 2016 qualification campaign underway attention is on Roy Hodgson like never before.
England’s future will be determined by the results picked up by the Three Lions between now and October 2015, when the final group games are played.
If the results are bad, and England fail to qualify for France, then the manager may need to seek alternative employment. Of course, Hodgson can only work with what he’s got – the ever-decreasing percentage of players eligible for England.
But there are other options, players not named in the squad to face Norway and Switzerland. Hodgson has to account long-term for the retirements of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, while overlooked players are making their case week in, week out.
Eric Dier caught the eye with two goals in two games for Tottenham Hotspur after moving from Sporting Lisbon. As a defender, it’s not really his main role but no manager will complain about goals from around the pitch.
Statistics from EuroFantasyLeague.com confirm Dier’s fine start to the season, and not just from an attacking point of view. No Premier League player has more points than Dier, not only down to his goals but also the two clean sheets he helped keep before Liverpool came calling.
Dier is a newcomer though and the real test will be how he is performing in a year’s time. For a player making his arguments over the long haul, Hodgson just needs to look to Swansea. Nathan Dyer has a goal a game this year for the Swans, with 75 points to show for it.
Last year he racked up a respectable 205 after doubling his goal tally from the year before, while Wayne Routledge may also be worth a shout.
Hodgson gave a first call-up to Fabian Delph but his Aston Villa teammate Ashley Westwood has been pulling better numbers and would possibly balance out the midfield a little more naturally than the dynamic Delph.
Moving from the Midlands to the Potteries and Ryan Shawcross is the second-highest rated English defender, behind Dier, and well ahead of Phil Jones, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka. He even outscores John Terry, claiming more than double the Chelsea captain’s points.
There are fewer options in attack – and Daniel Sturridge’s injury sees them lessened further. Sturridge wasn’t though the leading English forward – that honour goes to Saido Berahino. The youngster has two goals in three games, one more than Sturridge and Wayne Rooney and two more than Rickie Lambert and Danny Welbeck.
Goalkeepers are harder to come by still. Joe Hart’s position isn’t truly threatened but if it is to be, then Fraser Forster is still leading the way. Ben Foster and Rob Green both have a long way to go.
Hodgson’s job isn’t easy – a glance at a list of Premier League players confirms the small pool from which he is picking. Nevertheless, the alternatives are there. But whoever Hodgson picks, the key is getting the best from them.
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