England coach Hodgson looks far and wide for quality players

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2012, 2:43am


Not so long ago, in the days of Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Capello, there were suggestions that the England team represented a "closed shop".

In other words, if you didn't play for one of the Premier League's "Big Four" clubs or weren't part of the famous "golden generation" there was little point in waiting for a call-up.

But as England prepare for their friendly against Sweden today it is clear new manager Roy Hodgson is taking a very different attitude - and spreading his net as far as it will go.

His squad for the match in Stockholm includes the likes of Liverpool's Raheem Sterling, who is just 17, Wilfried Zaha of second-tier Championship leaders Crystal Palace, Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who plays in Scotland, and 31-year-old Leon Osman, who plays for Everton - and has done so for a decade without being noticed by a succession of England managers.

It's a selection policy Hodgson hopes will help him avoid falling into the same trap as his predecessors who stuck with exactly the same players and got exactly the same results in their fruitless quest to win England's first major trophy since the World Cup in 1966.

"He seems to be looking around - which from those players' point of view is great," said Osman. "From the point of view of the England squad it keeps you on your toes a bit more, too."

Hodgson had already brought through the likes of Manchester United's Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley plus Chelsea's Ryan Bertrand and Gary Cahill - even before the latest tranche of new caps; and he has ignored the claims of veterans such as Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry in a bid to find a new blend.

He is also not afraid to select players who are not playing regularly for their clubs; breaking a rule that restricted so many of his predecessors but now allows the likes of Welbeck and Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge to dream of an England career.