Although it’s a couple of months before Roy Hodgson has to get his pen and paper out to write down the next England squad, he must be chomping at the bit for once at the abundance of strikers he can put on that list.
Going into the holiday period, pundits were already waxing lyrical about Raheem Sterling playing as a striker for Liverpool as well as the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League, Charlie Austin, being touted for an England call up and (the clincher) ‘we will not sell’ calls emanating out of Shepherds Bush.
But as 2015 gathers momentum the name of Harry Kane can be added to that list with considerable optimism as well as the young man at the Hawthorns, Saido Berahino, whose club admit they may have to sell him this month. The £25 million fee being quoted from the Albion would go a long way to enabling Tony Pulis to buy safety for the Baggies. Most of the club’s fans would say swapping Berahino for Premier League survival is a no-brainer. And then there is an outside bet for Danny Ings, whose form and goals for Burnley have elicited an optimistic air at Turf Moor that survival can be achieved.
Of the five strikers it is perhaps Kane and Austin who are the most likely to make the first England squad of the New Year although Berahino has been in excellent form for the England Under 21s as well as his club.
There are certain similarities with Kane and Austin which despite one view that they will be competing for the same shirt can also be viewed that if one is not available the other one is a shoe-in.
Both players score a variety of goals, from tap-ins, to headers as well as long-range strikes and neither is restricted when they find themselves wide of the area immediately in front of the posts. Both have a desire and hunger that is part of a striker’s DNA and they can both put in a shift which satisfies the work ethic demands of domestic observers.
Austin is racking up the goals in a poor side that is struggling against relegation while Kane is at the heart of a Spurs revival that has pundits changing from talk of a top six finish to grabbing one of the Champions League places. If Austin remains at Loftus Road beyond the end of the month as long as the goals keep flowing it won’t matter a jot to Roy Hodgson where QPR are in the table. And Kane is currently ‘in the zone’ so both players have shown enough to at least be given a chance at international level come March.
A major bonus from the availability and scope of the strikers available for England duty is the removal of a question mark over Wayne Rooney. Observers questioned that his current deep role for Manchester United would impact on, and place in jeopardy, his selection as a main striker for his country. However a more pragmatic view is quite the opposite.
It has been quite obvious for some time that Wayne Rooney’s best position, in any team, is behind strikers, where the full range of his considerable skill set can be best utilised. He is probably the only player available, to club and country, who is equally adept at scoring goals as well as creating them. Playing as back up behind any combination from; Welbeck, Strurridge (when fit), Austin, Kane, Sterling can only auger well for the national team towards France 2016 and beyond.