It would be easy to overlook the significance of his omission for Saturday’s cakewalk against San Marino, with tonight’s trickier game against Switzerland in mind, and yet it merely underscores his importance to England’s cause. ‘It’s a big year for him.
A calf problem has ruled Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick out of a game which could see skipper Wayne Rooney surpass Sir Bobby Charlton as England’s all-time leading goalscorer. I am sure it will probably be the manager’s choice more than mine.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sterling – who will replace Leicester City’sJamie Vardy – are set to start in attack alongside Rooney while James Milner, Fabian Delph and Shelvey are all expected to start in a midfield trio.
“It will depend on the year ahead, how we continue our improvement, how much backing we get for some of our ideas from the Football Association and Premier League”, said Hodgson.
Sterling, 20, joined City for £44million plus a potential £5million in add-ons after asking to sit out the Reds pre-season tour with his agent telling the club his client had to intention of signing a new contract – whatever the terms on offer.
“I’m sure, when that time comes, I’ll have to listen to my body”, said 29-year-old Rooney.
The 2-0 away victory in the reverse fixture represented a fifth victory in six matches against the same opposition, and their form since gives Hodgson good reason to feel confident of adding to the head-to-head record.
Switzerland striker Josip Drmić has scored as many goals for his country as his clubs in 2015, and it’ll be hard for coach Vladimir Petković to justify benching him once again after his heroics against Slovenia. He’ll have a lot of big years: France in 2016, Russian Federation in 2018, 2020 all over Europe, and (Qatar) 2022. It will always come down to that.
“That is why we appreciate him and that is why he is captain”.
The return of Sterling against the Swiss, forever fond opponents for Hodgson given his time in charge of their national team, will be one of several changes from the weekend. The winger has yet to find a defined role with the Three Lions, but he’s a player whom manager Roy Hodgson should be looking to build the team around. Potentially, we will have players on the field (against Switzerland) who can score goals and help us.