While the upcoming Euro 2016 qualifying games against San Marino and Estonia may not strike much fear into any England fans, both fixtures provide a wonderful opportunity for the players to show that they can still perform at the very highest level. They have also provided Roy Hodgson with a great opportunity to introduce some new faces to the international fold, with Southampton’s Nathanial Clyne set to win his first England cap. Swansea’s Jonjo Shelvey also returns to the squad for the first time since playing against San Marino in 2012, although Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw have dropped down into Gareth Southgate’s Under 21 squad. Arsene Wenger has indicated that Chambers will be a gamble considering his hefty inflated transfer fee, but he has shown fantastic maturity and quality in the early stages of his Arsenal career to feel disappointed at not getting another chance at representing his country.
One notable absentee from the England squad is Daniel Sturridge, who would have been looking at both games as a wonderful opportunity to add to his five goals for the Three Lions. The thigh injury he picked up during the previous international break thankfully turned out to be a much lesser blow than anticipated, as Roy Hodgson’s men picked up what could be a priceless 2-0 victory in Switzerland. However, Brendan Rodgers, clearly riled by the absence of his star striker which has proved costly for Liverpool, ruled Sturridge out of a potential call-up for the upcoming qualifiers just days before Hodgson was to announce his squad. Although both men have stated that there has been no falling out between them, it could be a clear indication that Rodgers has got his way, and could even rub salt into the wounds by selecting Sturridge in his team to face West Brom at the weekend.
Where does this leave Sturridge?
As Sturridge is believed to be in contention to be back for Liverpool, it would certainly throw Hodgson’s nose out of joint if the striker appears against West Brom. Rodgers has declared that his star player is fit enough to play for his club, but is not in the right condition to represent his country. It could be a decision which backfires on Rodgers later down the line; while Liverpool’s manager has the best interest of the football club in mind as priority number one, preventing Sturridge from representing his country could create unrest and disillusionment.
Despite denying any feud with the England manager, Rodgers has publicly stated that he believes Sturridge’s injury could have been prevented, thus indicating that his decision could be considered a backlash. Gaining valuable game time against West Brom would be a boost for Sturridge and Liverpool, but the striker will undoubtedly be hugely disappointed to be held back from representing his country.