Aston Villa is responsible for providing England with the most international players of all time but, in Hodgson’s latest England squad no Villa players make the grade. Simon Bunn looks at what has gone wrong.
Despite Ferguson’s recent rant that, the FA should show more respect to a club that has “provided more players for their country than any other club side in the world," it is actually Aston Villa who claim that accolade in England. Villa have provided England with 71 international players in the past, however, in Hodgson’s latest squad, to face San Marino and Poland, all Aston Villa players have been overlooked.
It is a sad sight for Villa fans when you consider, that in the last five seasons, the Midland’s club could have been responsible for fielding an entire Englandteam:
(GK) Scott Carson – Made one disastrous appearance for England againstCroatia whilst on loan to Villa fromLiverpool during the 2007-08 season.
(LB) Stephen Warnock – During a spell of form the left back picked up a one solitary cap since playing for AstonVilla. Now he can’t even get a game for Villa and has been loaned out to Championship teamBolton.
(RB) Kyle Walker – It was a loan move to Aston Villa in 2011 that acted as a catalyst to ignite the rapid full back’s Premier League career. A point not lost on Kyle who was recently quoted as saying, ‘Villa was the best move of my life.’ Ever since then he has become anEngland regular.
(CB) Gary Cahill – Although never actually capped forEngland whilst at Aston Villa many Villa fans still see him as ‘the one that got away.’ It was Martin O’Neill that made the mistake of letting him go; now he is leading the line to be Terry’s natural successor for both Chelsea and England.
(CB) Emile Heskey – Quite obviously Heskey is not a centre back, but there are no other current players in this position that played for Villa. Besides, with his sheer size and dreadful goal scoring record, he might as well have been a centre back. Capped for England 12 times as a Villa player.
(LM) Ashley Young – The wing wizard was often dazzling throughout his Villa career. His eye catching form earned him 15 England call up’s at the time and also a move to Manchester United. England now occasionally utilise Young in the ‘hole’ behind the striker, it is a position he learnt at Villa under Gerard Houllier.
(RM) Stewart Downing – The non tackling winger arguably played the best football of his life whilst atVilla Park. He received 4 call up’s to the National team; consequently his head grew big enough to force a £20m move to Liverpool. Since then his performances have been passenger like, he can no longer get a game for club nor country.
(CM) Gareth Barry – Spent 10 seasons at Aston Villa, growing into a club captain. In his early days at Villa he played as a slow but skilful left back, and that was the position that got him his first England Cap. He progressed to become an important and regular centre midfielder for England, at times being favoured over Frank Lampard. His England career continued following a move toManchesterCity, however he has been left out of the latest England squad for the first time in years. He vows to be back.
(CM) James Milner – Another player that swapped the Midland’s for the blue half of Manchester. Milner won Young Player of the Season whilst at Villa; he also learnt how to be adaptable, playing either centre midfield and on both wings. He featured 12 times for England whilst wearing Claret and Blue, and remains a regular presence in the national set up to this day.
(FW) Gabby Agbonlahor – Like his form, his International career has been up and down throughout. Gabby has never looked like really cementing a place in England’s starting line up, but his blistering pace has become a useful tool for being considered as part of the squad. It’s been a while since his last call up but there are early signs that Agbonlahor might be beginning to find a little form. Time is still on his side.
(FW) Darren Bent – Without doubt one of the most prolific English strikers around. Fabio Capello was a huge fan and an international career was blossoming, before a lengthy injury proved to be his downfall. The present see’s him fighting for a Villa striking birth and ignored by the current England set up. Bent could easily turn it around though.
It could have been so different but, during this International break Villa fans will be keeping an eye on the likes of the Republic of Ireland, Holland, and Belgium instead.
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