The England squad for the friendly with Sweden either has a refreshing or inexperienced look about it depending on the colour of your tinted spectacles. The optimists of the world will see the names of Raheem Sterling, Leon Osman and Carl Jenkinson and feel they are deserving of their chances and give the fixture at the Swedbank Arena a little pizazz. Others will rightly contest that the lack of experience perhaps weakens the side but if Roy Hodgson was ever going to have a chance at looking through his young apprentices this is his best opportunity.
The November friendly is usually a rather drab affair and the list of absentees is once again steadily rising. With some also expecting Jack Wilshere’s call-up being significant of little more than a fleeting cameo on Wednesday the squad looks bereft of experience but even more so, bereft of goals.
The ‘strikers’ in the squad are Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and new-boy Wilfried Zaha and attacking midfielders such as Raheem Sterling and Ashley Young will also play a part in the attacking prowess of the side. This quintet has scored a collective tally of just eight goals this season; and four of those came courtesy of new-boy Zaha. It is perhaps a little unfair a statistic when you consider that Raheem Sterling is the only one receiving regular game-time. Ashley Young has been injured; Sturridge confined to the bench and Welbeck the victim of difficult competition.
So should Roy Hodgson have called upon England’s top scorer for this international friendly?
The man in question is Charlie Austin and already I can hear a collective internet groan but hear me out.
Obviously the Championship is not as high a standard as the Premier League but that does not give us reason to discard Charlie Austin scoring an incredible 20 goals by halfway into November. He has reached the milestone in 17 appearances and when you look in the Premier League there are no English strikers that come near that tally; the nearest Englishman is Kevin Nolan of West Ham and as effective as he is for The Hammers an England call-up seems unlikely or the chicken dancing midfielder.
He is widely expected to move into Premier League football this January with Arsenal, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Reading all being credited with an interest in the lad.
His age is not a worry either as at just 23-years-old he is not a washed up operator feasting on weakened defences. In a similar fashion to Dutch goal-machine Klaas Jan Huntelaar he is simply a late bloomer. Released by Reading in 2004 for being too slight he is now a strapping 6ft 2ins striker with pace to burn and a formidable potency in front of goal.
David Nugent and Jay Bothroyd have been given their chance for England while playing Championship football in the past so why not Austin?
It may of course have something to do with the fact he has not represented England at any level so far but of course the more obvious and fair reason is his current Championship standing. However with the call-up for Wilfried Zaha he must be harbouring hope for the future.
Or maybe he should find some obscure ancestry that makes him eligible for another nation a la Jenkinson, Sterling, Shelvey or Zaha; or maybe that is just the cynic in me?
What do you think? Could Charlie Austin warrant an England call-up in the next year?
images: © joncandy