The international break is trudging along at a snail-like pace and boring the pants off premiership football fans across the land. I know there are those of you out there that actually have a concerted interest in their national team’s fortunes and follow their games at the same level as they would a club at domestic level. Don’t get me wrong I’m fully behind England and want them qualify for the world cup I just wish I had the equivalent of a Sky +/Tivo remote so that I could fast forward past all the advert like qualifiers and get straight to the good stuff: the finals.
Now with most of our squad away with their national teams the focus over the past few days has been focused on those players who have not been called up to their national squads; most notably Carl Jenkinson and Mikel Arteta. Our rejuvenated full back Jenkinson has been the subject of many pundits opinion on whether he should pledge his future to England before Finland snap him. As we all know he qualifies for Finland through his mother and has represented Finland for the majority of his youth up to U-21 level.
I have been very impressed with Carl Jenkinson this season along with everyone else who has watched him. I feel his performances have been deserving of the plaudits but I do feel the England calls have been very knee jerk which is a common fault with the English press/pundit system. We are quick to jump on the bandwagon of any players that emerge and tend to throw them to the top of the tree before they have had a chance to prove themselves. Maybe I’m old school but I feel some players are elevated to international football far too quickly; we end up with a high number of players on the scrap heap with a few international caps because they were thrown in the deep end and then the national exposure highlighted parts of their game that was not up to standard yet. There is no patience playing for England, its sink or swim and many a time players sink because it’s too much too soon. There’s nothing to say they will not be great players but my argument is that a good start to the season should not mean a starting spot for your national team. An apprenticeship should be followed; if a player is under 21 he should play for the under-21’s at some point then experience being called up to the full squad to train with the seniors but not play any games for a few call ups until they are deemed by the manager to be on same wavelength as the senior players.
Many players that are deemed true talent are fast tracked straight into the full squad, our own jack wilshere is one of those players who bypassed his apprenticeship but his quality was evident from the off and he definitely swam when thrown in. when you see a player like Raheem Sterling who in my opinion is going to be a massive player seeing him in England squads already is a bit of an insult.
We must also consider that the fast tracking and avoiding the apprenticeship can have a detrimental effect on the player’s psychology. When you give a young player too much too soon it can harm their career as they lose their humbleness and start believing they have made it, they are surrounded by people telling them how great they are, they are representing their country and everything seems easy before their career has even started. David Bentley could be an example of such a player, where is he now? Despite being a complete knob he did have talent but he believed he was the next David Beckham without putting in the work David Beckham did to become…David Beckham. Now he is trying to reinvent his career somewhere in Russia.
Now the example I used for Raheem Sterling is possibly one similar to Carl Jenkinson, the England hierarchy want to secure their services for England before they pledge to their other eligible countries (Jamaica and Finland). But I feel despite the possible chance of missing out on a player because they are offered international football a lot sooner; it says a lot more about the player’s character. If you have real plans to be a top player then im sorry Finland and Jamaica are just not going to put you there. If you as a player really want to reach the top and England is your option then you must be prepared to wait for when you are ready to represent England and not settle for the easy option elsewhere.
Its playing for England that will give you the opportunities to play in international tournament showpieces (how well they do when they get there is another story). But it is the utmost importance that when representing your country you have earned the right and have not got there by default. A player like Stephen Warnock at Aston Villa was part of the England squad during the world cup in 2010, today if you ask anyone their opinion of the player you will struggle to find anything positive said about him. Had he become a bad player overnight or was he never good enough to start with?
Now is Carl Jenkinson a player good enough to play for England? The answer is yes. Is he ready to be England’s first choice right back? I would say no. I have to take my arsenal tinted glasses off and admit there are English right backs well ahead of him at this time. Carl has had a great start to the season and what he needs to do is put the international talk aside and focus on building on his development this season. The only real test this season he should face is the competition when Bac Sagna returns to the first team squad. England selection is not a burden he needs right now, his fight is for the right back spot at arsenal is. If he can overcome that hurdle then he may be ready to move on to the next stage which is international football.
In fairness Jenkinson has played down the England talk and I hope he continues to do so. I do believe in him but I just don’t want him to be thrown in the deep end before his time. He has made a great start to the season but it is only 7 or so games this season I believe he needs to continue on this season as he’s going then maybe come end of the season the England people can really assess his capabilities. It was good he wasn’t included in latest squad, at the moment he is first choice at Arsenal by default but let’s see if by end of season he is first choice by merit.
NB: No disrespect is meant in this post to Finland or Jamaica. If a player feels strongly enough to represent their country of birth then fair play to them.
Enjoy your day people.
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