Should Arsenal's Gibbs be in England squad?

Arsenal fullback Kieran Gibbs has not featured for England since August 2011 back when Fabio Capello was The Three Lions’ manager but should Roy Hodgson be considering him now?

The 24-year-old left-back has only ever featured twice for his country after making his senior debut for England in a friendly against Hungary in 2011 in which he came on as a half-time substitute for former Arsenal colleague Ashley Cole.

His lack of inclusion has been in large part due to his fitness struggles and subsequent lack of playing at club level, which is the basis for inclusion at international level, predominantly.

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Gibbs has, however, featured in all seven of Arsenal’s Premier League games so far this term and all four of their Champions League games, including the qualification play-offs for the competition.

Since his head injury in the Gunners’ opening day defeat to Aston Villa which saw him substituted off after 27 minutes, Gibbs has played 90 minutes in every single league and Champions League game since and he’s been in fine form, earning himself a call up by Garth Crooks' Premier League Team of the Week on the BBC website, even if he hasn’t caught the notice of Roy Hodgson as he’d have hoped.

Defensively Gibbs has been solid defensively so far this term for Arsenal – I’ve been impressed with his tackling, his positioning, his aerial combat – and offensively, he’s actually put in the second-most amount of crosses out of everyone at Arsenal so far this season, he’s scored one goal (a cracking goal, Arsenal’s opener against Fenerbahce away) and made 3 assists in all competitions.

On Sunday, against West Brom, his pass completion rate overall was 83 per cent, 87.5 per cent in the final third, and 78 per cent in his defensive third. He completed 3 out of 4 attempted tackles successfully, made one crucial block in the box, made five out of five successfully headed clearances, made one key interception covering in central defence, and won half of his aerial duels.

The issue, apart from his fitness, which saw him miss large portions of three seasons with Arsenal, Hodgson already has Chelsea’s Ashley Cole and Everton’s Leighton Baines vying for the left-back spot with England and, coming up through the ranks over the next few years, probably Southampton youngster Luke Shaw.

However, with Cole now 32 and Baines 28, one would have thought Gibbs could push on this season and perhaps be in with a shout for a call-up for the World Cup next summer. If he impresses for Arsenal this season and, crucially stays fit, he’ll catch the eye of the England boss before it’s too late.

By the time the next European Championships roll around in 2016, he’ll be 26 going on 27 and possibly in the prime of his career by then. At present, he’s the outsider for the left-back spot but a lot can change over the course of a season and if Kieran Gibbs can keep his consistency with the Gunners, he could be the dark horse in the race for a World Cup place.

image: © Ronnie Macdonal

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