4 clues Sam Allardyce has given us about his first England squad
Over a month has passed since Sam Allardyce took on the England job he’d craved for a decade, and the former Bolton and West Ham boss is now preparing to announce his first squad.
After a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign there are sure to be changes in personnel – James Milner has retired, for starters – but Allardyce is yet to reveal too many specific details. His first test is a World Cup qualifier in Slovakia – but what will his first group of players look like?
1. He’ll pick those playing regularly (eventually)
Allardyce has already confirmed that Manchester City outcast Joe Hart will be picked despite his dumping by Pep Guardiola, but the new England manager has made clear that he wants “as many players as possible in their club's first team"
One of the the main criticisms levelled at Roy Hodgson towards the end of his reign was the selection of players who’d barely featured for their club sides in the final few weeks of the season (basically, Jack Wilshere).
Allardyce has already confirmed that Manchester City outcast Joe Hart will be picked despite his dumping by Pep Guardiola, but the new England manager has made clear that he wants “as many players as possible in their club's first team”.
“When we pick the first squad and they meet up here there will be some lads who don't play on a regular basis,” said Allardyce. “In the end, we select the players in the best form, are fit and playing… [but] can we get in the England squad ones who play every week? Probably not now.”
Allardyce has urged Hart to seek regular first-team football to ensure he keeps his place in the England team, while also suggesting he’ll speak to Guardiola about the situation. Marcus Rashford's been picked for the U21s, meanwhile, after Allardyce admitted that the striker would likely drop back down given his lack of playing time at Manchester United so far this season.
Allardyce will see what’s what this time around – don’t expect too many surprises in his first squad – but will soon go about prioritising playing time over reputation.
2. Experience matters to him
While the 61-year-old doesn’t pack his squads full of older players, he does tend to prefer seasoned pros down the spine of his teams
Allardyce has been known to promote youth throughout his career, but he's always prioritised a strong core of experienced players. At Sunderland, for example, the likes of Jermain Defoe, Lee Cattermole and Younes Kaboul offered plenty of Premier League nous and were near ever-presents as Allardyce helped the Black Cats avoid the drop.
While the 61-year-old doesn’t pack his squads full of older players, he does tend to prefer seasoned pros down the spine of his teams. With a lack of experience evident during England’s disappointing campaign in France – particularly in that fateful game against Iceland – it’s an area Allardyce seems keen to address in time for next weekend's Slovakia clash.
There's already been talk of an international comeback for John Terry, Allardyce having conceded (somewhat mischievously) that he “might have to give him a ring”, while he hasn’t ruled out a return to the international scene for the well-travelled Defoe either.
3. New boys have hope
Many West Ham fans were outraged when Mark Noble failed to make the squad for Euro 2016 after some solid performances in the Premier League; could the midfielder be set for a first England cap now Allardyce is in charge
It’s clean slates all around, and there are still some open spots in the squad. Allardyce has shown in his career to date that he isn’t afraid of making tough or unpopular decisions in a bid to drive a team forward, and this may well result in a number of new faces coming into the England squad.
Many West Ham fans were outraged when Mark Noble failed to make the squad for Euro 2016 after some solid performances in the Premier League; could the midfielder be set for a first England cap now Allardyce is in charge? After all, he was highly regarded by the England manager during his time in charge of West Ham and would certainly offer plenty of top-flight experience.
Michail Antonio's a viable candidate having done well for West Ham since joining them from Nottingham Forest last season, while Scott Dann's a consistently solid performer for Crystal Palace and Marc Albrighton was excellent in Leicester’s title win last season.
4. Youth won’t be ignored
What Allardyce really wants, then, is young players who demonstrate intelligence and maturity for both their club side and national team
Allardyce might appreciate the contribution a few experienced heads can give, but it doesn’t mean he'll totally disregard youth. Kevin Nolan, Jordan Pickford and Duncan Watmore were all introduced to Premier League football under his management, and he could similarly help to progress the careers of many of England's young stars.
He’s already spoken of the promising youngsters within the England team, using the examples of John Stones and Raheem Sterling as two players with excellent potential. But Allardyce isn’t prepared to hang around, either.
“Potential?” said the Three Lions chief. “See, there’s that word, but we don’t want potential, do we? I want the thing, and right now. Potential is something that’s going to be great in the future. But I want it right now and I think he (Stones) has got a great chance of becoming ‘right now’ at Manchester City.”
What Allardyce really wants, then, is young players who demonstrate intelligence and maturity for both their club side and national team.
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley)
Midfielders: Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Eric Dier (Tottenham), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Michail Antonio (West Ham), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester), Ross Barkley (Everton), Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace)
Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Harry Kane (Tottenham)