Could Delph or any other Villa players work their way into the England side?
The international break has given Villa’s homegrown English players the chance to get some much needed rest, but it wasn’t so long ago that Villa could boast up five of its players in the national squad. Unfortunately those days seem like a distant memory now.
Darren Bent suddenly became out of favour with manager Paul Lambert and is now on loan at Fulham, Stewart Downing and Ashley Young were both attracted to the bright lights of Liverpool and Man United respectively, but are now struggling to get back into the national side. James Milner went to Man City and is the only former player to really stamp his authority on games for both his club and his country – but that wasn’t surprising because he was such a good player at Villa. Gary Cahill has also continued to shine after moving from Villa to Bolton and then on to Chelsea and looks likely to be going to Brazil as one of the first choice centrebacks.
Even Hull City’s Curtis Davies worked his way into one England squad when he was at Villa but didn’t manage to get a game.
What is left of Villa’s English contingent is not good enough for an England call up yet, but there are few who could be worth keeping an eye on.
Fabian Delph has started very brightly this season, but it’s a shame that he has been hampered by injuries over the last few weeks. Villa are currently facing a run of games against teams of a similar quality and although Delph has done his best against the big teams, it would have been great to see if he was capable of dominating games when given the chance against lower league opposition.
The game against Cardiff ended in a vital 2-0 win for Villa, who were just about the better side, but had Delph been playing he really could have made a big difference. He’s been playing box-to-box every game so it’s still quite difficult to see where he favoured position is – whether it’s attacking and playing behind the forwards, marshalling in front of the defence or simply being everywhere in the middle of the park.
Delph certainly has the engine for it, but he’s been heads and shoulders above the rest of a pretty mediocre bunch in the Villa midfield.
If Lambert could somehow attract another quality midfielder – which is a position Villa really needs to strengthen – it would free up Delph and also improve the entire side.
When you consider England can currently pick from the likes of Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, James Milner, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend and Jack Wilshere – not to mention Aaron Lennon and Ashley Young – it’s fair to say Delph is not there yet.
But if he continues make progress with the speed he has this season there’s no reason why he can’t be at least knocking on the door in a few year’s time.
Gabby Agbonlahor is another Villa player who still harbours England ambitions. It wasn’t that long ago he made his debut for the national side when Villa were flying under Martin O’Neill, but since those heady days he has struggled to get another look in.
Gabby believes he still has a chance to get back in the squad, but even the most hardened Villa fan would have to admit a call-up would be a huge surprise. But with England’s forward line arguably being the weakest area of the national team he does still have a slight chance of working his way back into the team.
He hasn’t been scoring recently so clearly that is an area he needs to work on, plus he’s been hampered by a few niggling injuries, but if he can start delivering over the next few games there’s a chance he could be back on the fringes of a call-up.
The only other players to possibly look out would be Matthew Lowton, Ashley Westwood and Gary Gardner.
Lowton and Westwood were two of Villa’s stand out players last season and gave fans a glimmer of hope for the future when at one stage everything else was looking pretty dire. Unfortunately neither has progressed much this season and both even lost their places in the starting 11 at one stage, so they are still a considerable distance away for any sort of international call-up.
However, they are both talented young English players who just need to rediscover some form and confidence so perhaps they could be worth keeping tabs on for the future.
Anyone who is not a Villa fan will probably be wondering why Gary Gardner keeps being mentioned as one for the future. He’s hardly made any first team appearances and the only time he did have a decent run was when Villa were playing some pretty woeful football under Alex McLeish. Since then a serious of injuries have kept him sidelined so even Villa fans are still not sure what sort of player he could be.
But all his teammates class him as a player for the future and even the like of Jack Wilshere have said he is one of the best midfielders he has played with, so there must be something there – plus he has scored goals for fun and dominated games when playing for youth and reserve teams at Villa.
Gardner needs a bit of luck with injuries and then he needs to establish himself in the Villa side, so he’s a long way off any sort of England recognition, but there is definitely something special there so we’ll all be keeping a very close eye on how he progresses over the next few seasons.
Article by James Fisher
Calling all Villa fans: Who do you think deserves a call-up for England? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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