No Clyne call-up? It's good, but it's not right. . . .

Posted by Chris Rann

In England, we love trying to fit square pegs into round holes. For years we wasted the best talent this country has had since Paul Gascoigne in Paul Scholes, putting him on the left wing when he should have been the central playmaker with a team built around him. Scholes rightly turned his back on international football, his 66 caps an insult to his talent.

Part of the reason Scholes was shoved out on to the left was that at the time England had a 'problem left side', and rather than nurture somebody who naturally played that position, they tried to force central players to give it a go.

Now, I would argue with anyone who fancied it that England have a problem right side, at least defensively. Does anyone really rate Kyle Walker? And Glen Johnson, who is staggeringly one shy of 50 caps, has made the position his own with positional naivete and a complete lack of defensive skills. It shows just how problem the position of right back is that Johnson, a player that should have struggled to get 10 caps, is so close to such a landmark.

With Johnson injured, the responsibility of holding the fort for England's two crucial qualifiers came down to Walker, and he picked up a booking, meaning he misses Tuesday's game against Poland. This leaves Roy with a Hobson's -- or more fitting Hodgson's -- choice. He will play wither Phil Jones or Chris Smalling at right back. While both have played the position before, Jones in fact has done so four times for Manchester United this season, neither strikes me as a natural full-back, both I'm sure would consider themselves centre halves.

At least Jones has played though, albeit in a sketchy United defence. Smalling has started just three games for David Moyes' side, two at right full back. It's not exactly awe inspiring going into the game that decides England's world qualification, or not is it?

Meanwhile, down on the South Coast Nathaniel Clyne will settle down at home to watch the game on television. Clyne is English. Clyne plays right back. Clyne plays right back for currently the tightest defence in the Premier League. In fact, Southampton are yet to concede a goal this season while Clyne has been on the pitch.

I know I'm often heard suggesting Saints players should get some recognition, and I know it can't be possible for all the Saints' English players to be good enough for the national team. But when a player is in good form it shouldn't matter for whom they play.

Hodgson has already missed out on months of in-form Rickie Lambert. Now, he looks to have chosen a player who can't get in the Liverpool team over an in-form Adam Lallana, and now for me he is denying himself a natural right back who not only is great going forward but also right now is the best statistically in the Premier League.

Keep the faith.


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