Roy Hodgson has included the young duo in his Three Lions squad for World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine, but are they ready?
Two names that stood out in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifying fixtures were youngsters Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend. The pair have started their respective seasons well at Everton and Tottenham, but neither will have been expecting a call up to the Three Lions’ senior set-up.
It is encouraging to see Hodgson looking to blood some youngsters into the set-up and this pair certainly have the potential to be stars in upcoming seasons. The experience of training with the senior squad and being exposed to the atmosphere around international football can only be a good thing.
The likelihood of the duo getting much time on the pitch is small – maybe Hodgson will look to the pair in the second half of the home clash with Moldova should the hosts be winning. Blooding two inexperienced players away to Ukraine could well be a bad idea.
Of the two, Barkley looks like the more likely to be ready to step up to senior international football. His call-up is a testament to an impressive start of the campaign for Everton, with excellent performances showing the teenager’s ability.
His range of passing, trickery on the ball and tireless work-rate have been the source of much applause this term and rightly so. That said, with stalwarts Carrick, Gerrard, Lampard, Wilshere et al in the squad, Barkley may only get a cameo appearance, if that.
Townsend has been given an opportunity at club level by Andre Villas-Boas due to the hole vacated by Gareth Bale and the 22-year-old has looked promising to date. A man-of-the-match performance against Dinamo Tblisi in the Europa League was backed up by a solid showing against Swansea in the league, with Townsend winning the decisive penalty for his team.
The winger showed signs of what he is capable of in a loan spell at QPR last season, but his priority this term must be to maximise the amount of action he gets at club level. Although it is natural progression for Townsend to be in the England set-up after representing his country at under-16, 17, 19 and 21 level, he is a long way off ready to play for the senior side.
The experience will be a character-building one for Townsend, who looks like a promising talent, but he is unlikely to be handed his first cap.
The selection of both of these players will be a good thing for them individually and is a sign for other young stars that inclusion is potentially there if you impress at club level. Both Barkley and Townsend will benefit from the experience and could have a significant role to play for their country in the future.
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