Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hodgson's Conservative Instincts HOLDINGTHREE Lions Back

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hodgson's Conservative Instincts HOLDINGTHREE Lions Back

Article excerpt

AT the last time of checking, the bookies had England at 1/100 to qualify for Euro 2016.

Thanks to Michel Platini essentially making the process a cakewalk for any team that has been even halfway competitive in European football over the last decade - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need not apply - there is little chance of any of the big guns misfiring in this gentle qualification process.

And to their credit, England made short work of their most onerous task in the road to France - beating Switzerland with plenty to spare at a point when Roy Hodgson found himself in the crosshairs.

Next up are Estonia and San Marino, two countries that England have never succumbed to. Much has been made of the lack of homegrown talent in the top two divisions but England's third-choice side would enjoy a very easy evening against both sides. It will be a dead international break.

So why has Hodgson not experimented a bit with the squad for the two games? And can he explain what, exactly, it is that Jack Colback managed to do wrong in two training sessions to find himself dropped for two games when it might have been useful to take a closer look at him? Hodgson called Colback the 'ginger Pirlo' during the press call for his Switzerland squad and indicated that there might be an opportunity for a player who, like Jordan Henderson, has shown an admirable willingness to learn his craft and develop his talents over the last two years.

Yet now he finds himself dropped: possibly a victim of Newcastle's poor early season form, although that is an argument less readily available when you consider the form of some of the other players who find themselves in the squad.

Rickie Lambert? Five substitute appearances for out-of-sorts Liverpool and no goals suggest that he hasn't exactly earned his place among the best English players.

It won't be a particularly popular shout outside Wearside but if there was ever a time to take a look at someone like Lee Cattermole, this would have been it. The Sunderland midfielder will always find himself tarred by the same brush as other players tagged with the bad discipline tag, but in truth he has been the Black Cats' best performer this season. …

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