Stats: Jack Colback's England call-up is actually a no-brainer

Jack Colback

The Newcastle United midfielder's inclusion in Roy Hodgson's squad has raised a few eyebrows. But statistics show it is the right call.

Jack Colback

It's safe to say Jack Colback's England call-up has not been met with universal approval.

The former Sunderland man has played just two games for Newcastle United and Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson is, bizarrely, already speaking of him being 'the Ginger Andrea Pirlo.'

Statistically, however, Hodgson - and it's not often you get tocan say this - is right to have picked the Newcastle man.

Colback, to his credit, has relished the moment.

"It's another proud moment for me and my family," Colback told Newcastle's official website.

"My football is going really well at the moment and this is the icing on the cake after moving here.

"There's been a few retirements since the World Cup, in [Steven] Gerrard and [Frank] Lampard, which has left a hole. I'm not saying I'm necessarily their replacement but there are opportunities there for young players to stake a claim."

  TeamPosAccurate PassWon TackleInterception WonAppsMins
Gareth Barry Everton MF 126 4 3 2 180
Steven Gerrard Liverpool MF 123 4 2 2 180
Dean Marney Burnley MF 98 9 5 2 180
Jack Colback Newcastle MF 95 3 4 2 180
Jordan Henderson Liverpool MF 93 4 2 2 180

And, as Opta stats show, the 24-year-old is in the England squad to face Norway and Switzerland absolutely on merit. Out of all the Premier League's English midfielders, only three have completed more passes than Colback so far this season - and all of them are the age of 30 or above.

Steven Gerrard, meanwhile, has just announced his England retirement, while Burnley's Dean Marney would get an even worse reception than Colback were he included in Hodgson's squad.

In truth, there is a real dearth of talent in the middle of the park for the Three Lions - and this defensive Magpies midfielder could help solve it. People may laugh or criticise but, at 24, Colback has several years to become an all-round midfielder. Why should Hodgson pick Gareth Barry over him, for instance, when he is 33 years of age?

No, the England boss's decision is indeed 100 per cent statistically justified. Whether that has implications in terms of English talent more generally is a separate issue entirely.

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