Roy Hodgson has an interesting decision to make this summer and the weight of an entire nation is resting on his shoulders. If Hodgson gets his 23-man squad selection spot on, England have a genuine chance of winning the European Championship – the first major trophy since lifting the World Cup in 1966.
If he gets it wrong, however, then England could suffer another embarrassing group stage exit at a major tournament. It’s that simple. And the big question from an Arsenal point of view is: will Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott make it into Hodgson’s squad this summer? We take a look at their chances…
Jack Wilshere has struggled with various injury issues over the last 18 months but the Arsenal midfielder might be about to return at the vital moment. While Danny Drinkwater has been simply sensational for Leicester City this season, Wilshere is on another level when fit – that’s how good he is. In fact, the England international could arguably slot into the starting line-up of all Premier League sides.
The Gunners star has his critics but there’s no doubting Wilshere’s obvious ability, especially for the national team. The 24-year-old produced a number of impressive performances for England during the qualifying campaign and supporters will be hoping that he can regain his form quickly and avoid any recurring niggles between now and the end of the season.
Verdict: On his day, Wilshere is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League and he HAS to go to the Euros this summer – as long as he has proven his fitness.
Like Wilshere, Danny Welbeck has also had to deal with his own injury demons this season but the Arsenal striker is now fully fit and enjoying his football. Since returning to the first team, Welbeck has scored four goals in 13 matches – including that dramatic last-minute winner against Leicester back in February. And if he can emulate that form for the remainder of the campaign, he could sneak into Hodgson’s squad.
But right now, it’s hard to see Welbeck making the 23-man roster. With Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Wayne Rooney almost certainly taking three of the spots up, Welbeck will be competing with proven England forward Daniel Sturridge and Manchester United teenage sensation Marcus Rashford for the fourth and (possibly) final striker position. And unfortunately for Welbeck, he’s up against it as both players are in fine form.
Verdict: This year’s squad is extremely competitive, especially upfront and it’s hard to see Welbeck making the team ahead of Sturridge on current form.
The England international has found himself fighting for a place in the Arsenal starting line-up in recent weeks and Walcott will need plenty of luck to go his way if he is to muscle his way into Hodgson’s plans. The Gunners’ slide down the Premier League table has hindered Walcott’s impact on the Premier League and it would take a brave man to back the 27-year-old for the England squad on current form.
Walcott has never really lived up to the hype and the Arsenal man may find himself sitting on the bench a lot more in the not-so-distant future. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has tried deploying Walcott in a more central area in the past but he just doesn’t look settled and Gunners fans will be hoping he can bounce back stronger than ever in August after a complete summer of rest.
Verdict: Unfortunately for Walcott, he just hasn’t been good enough this season and it will take a minor miracle for the Arsenal winger to make the squad.
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