by Daisy Cutter

They say in life it’s not what you know but who you know. The football equivalent can sometimes – depressingly – be it’s not how good you are but which club you play for. An outstanding season for a relegation struggler might eventually earn you a ten minute cameo in a meaningless friendly. Whereas a couple of games in a Manchester United or Liverpool jersey gets the England manager’s knickers nice and moist while the press compare you to Georgie Best.

Stephen Tudor selects a mediocre eleven who wouldn’t get within a hundred miles of St George’s Park if they played for Villa or Stoke.

GK – Ben Foster

Despite there being a dearth of quality home-grown number ones the clanger-merchant retired from the international scene in 2011 stating he would never usurp Joe Hart. There’s fighting spirit for you. Foster was gifted five of his eight caps while being an unreliable bench-warmer at Old Trafford.

RB – Carl Jenkinson

It surprised everyone when Arsene Wenger made a million pound swoop on Charlton for the largely unknown full-back. That surprise turned to open weeping when the perfectly adequate, nothing special defender was selected for a friendly v Sweden despite playing second fiddle at his club to Bacary Sagna.

There seemed to be gratitude that Jenkinson chose England over his mother’s native Finland. We once won the World Cup you know.

LB – John Flanagan

Representing a glut of Liverpool full-backs – take your pick from Flanagan, John Scales, Martin Kelly and Stephen Warnock – we’ve plumped for arguably the most talented due to the young scouser being the best example of what this team is about. Following injuries to Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique the unproven kid put in a handful – and we really mean a handful – of decent shifts down the Anfield flank prompting a premature England call-up. It’s a fast-tracking that is unimaginable if he’d done similar at Turf Moor.

CB – Neil Ruddock

This wardrobe atop tree trunks once had the Three Lions emblazoned on his wheezing chest. I’ll just let that sink in for a while….

Still not sunk in? Neil Ruddock was once considered one of our two best defenders in a country with a population of close to sixty million that has produced the likes of Moore, Wright and McFarland.

No, it remains incomprehensible even to this day.

Rusty Razor won his solitary cap in 1994, after seven years of no-nonsense nonsense for Millwall, Southampton and Spurs. Ironically it came soon after joining Liverpool. Funny that. It’s not. It’s not funny at all.

CB – Chris Smalling

Ask yourself this – who’s the better defender from Smalling and Curtis Davies? We’d put them roughly on a par, a coin-flip dependent on form.

The former Luton, West Brom, Villa, Birmingham man has never come close to international honours, despite him captaining his Hull side to an FA Cup final last season and being widely considered to possess all the attributes of a top level defender. Smalling has fifteen.

CM – Jermaine Jenas

Positioning himself as a pundit now – all cosy and warm in the studio – it’s easy to forget that Jenas is still only 31. His smug grin on the sofa is a regular reminder that he’s got out early after committing the perfect crime – impersonating an attacking midfielder of any note for thirteen years.

CM – Tom Cleverley

I once received the full dog’s treatment for daring to suggest Thomas William Cleverley was undeserving of England recognition and that he wasn’t fit to lick Jordan Henderson’s boots. The jury on that one has gone home, made a cuppa and got on with their lives.

After an eye-catching 45 minutes in a Community Shield the glorified seat-filler was rashly brought into the international fold where he proved himself to be limited. So he was given another chance. Then another. All because he played for United so he must be good right? He wasn’t. He isn’t.

CM – Jake Livermore

There should be a rule with England call-ups. No player can be awarded the highest honour until their Wikipedia page requires a scroll-down.

Remember when Jake Livermore was recalled from a loan spell at Leeds and played a few decent games for Tottenham thus swiftly gaining a sub’s appearance at Wembley? Yeah me too. Vaguely.

AT – Jonjo Shelvey

The great-great-grandchild of Nosferatu is an infuriating talent who shows glimpses of brilliance twice a season then dips to ineffectual insouciance. Any such magical moment at the Liberty Stadium certainly won’t have Roy Hodgson considering him for selection yet it did back in 2012 when watched from his regular seat in Anfield’s Centenary Stand.

AT – Kieran Richardson

Now often employed as a left-back time was when Richardson was a Giggs-lite deceiving everyone – including Fergie – that his pace and quick feet actually amounted to anything.  

In football mathematics an English left-footer who Ferguson rates equals eight undeserved caps.

CF – Paul Stewart

I recall Stewart being a marauding, unstoppable goal-machine at Manchester City. No, really. Then came his big-money move to White Hart Lane and the goals – and Stewart’s surging running – all ran aground. Dropped back into midfield he briefly became a hard-working foil for Gazza until an understudy role to Ian Rush at Liverpool garnered one goal in 24.

His trio of England appearances does nobody any credit.