With England in transition Jake Garner puts forward a name from the Midlands who all-too-rarely gets the plaudits he deserves.
The English national team, fortunately for us, is still in the stages of transition. After our worst ever World Cup, in which we were knocked out of the group stage for the first time since 1958, coming away with just one measly point and failing to record a single victory for the first time in history, England really do need to start bringing through the young attacking players that were supposed to shine in Brazil.
One position in which the team is lacking fresh faces is central midfield. Gerrard has retired from international football, while Lampard and the uninspiring Milner aren’t getting any younger. Henderson is presumably first choice to patrol the centre circle after starting against Italy and Uruguay this summer as he continues to improve at Liverpool. At the next World Cup in 2018, he’ll be turning 28 and in his peak years. Similarly there is Jack Wilshere, who will be 26 and coming into his prime should he fulfil the potential which has been heavily staggered by injuries.
Obviously two top-class central midfielders aren’t enough for a squad looking to win a major international tournament and while a young player can burst onto the scene at any given time, Roy Hodgson seems to have turned his sights to Villa Park and the promising talent that is Fabian Delph. He was spotted there on Saturday as Aston Villa hosted Newcastle United, drawing 0-0. Fabian will be confident he impressed though, putting in a solid performance and completing 5 successful dribbles while playing in a deep midfield position, 3 more than any player on the day.
Those dribbles have become somewhat of a trademark for Delph as he completed more than any of his team mates last season; an impressive feat considering Villa are deployed in a counter-attacking system. Perhaps this is the reason why he has thrived under Paul Lambert, who in March said of him:
“He’s been excellent over the course of the 18 months I’ve been here.”
“How far can he go? You’ve seen what he’s got, there’s massive potential there to be a top player and if he keeps his feet on the ground, keeps learning, keeps doing what he’s doing then we’ll see where he goes.”
He was also Villa’s second best tackler in 2013-14, dispossessing the opponent 2.9 times per game, 99 in total. In addition to this, Delph has an excellent work rate and great passing range. These are all qualities shared by Jordan Henderson, giving Roy Hodgson a partnership capable of covering the back four tirelessly while contributing to the attack. Wilshere is an attacking option for Roy but his defensive ability isn’t quite up to scratch, meaning a more rounded Delph could be first choice.
After being signed for 8m from Leeds who were in League One at the time, his initial career at Aston Villa was not an easy one. Hampered by injury and three managers in as many years, it seemed as though he might never reach his potential. But since Lambert has arrived at Villa Park, steady progress has been made. 19 starts in their first season together led to some impressive performances and last year was by far the best in his career as he started 33 games and was voted the Fans Player of the Year. At 24 as well, he’ll be 28 come the next World Cup and ready to perform at his best should he continue to improve.
Hodgson has been criticised for only choosing players from the big clubs. Even Rickie Lambert had completed his move to Liverpool before the start of the tournament and a deal for Lallana had already been set in motion. Giving a chance to Delph would be the perfect motivation for English lads in the top flight. If being voted as your team’s best player in the Premier League isn’t enough to have you recognised by the national side, then all of the criticism would be more than warranted. International experience can play a big part in making a player top class as shown most recently by Villa team mate Ron Vlaar, who was heralded for his solid showing with Holland and has been exceptional in the opening two games of this season. Let’s hope Roy sees sense and gives Fabian the opportunity he deserves.