sports gazette

English National Football: Best of the Rest Starting XI

Published: 2 Oct 2016

With a hectically controversial week within the FA and football in general, and with more complications potentially arising in the near future, it’s important to engage with the one constant that truly matters; the football.

All fans have their own strong opinions on what is right and wrong within the English set-up, but one factor that is always contentious is the starting 11 itself. With so much indisputable talent, dubious personalities and blatant ‘big name’ bias, the selection process has never been so complicated.

Fans of ‘smaller’ teams argue that in-form Englishmen get overlooked for those playing poorly but for a ‘bigger’ club. There may be some actuality in this argument but nothing seems to change.

Here, we explore a potential English starting 11, where all players are situated at football clubs outside of the so called ‘Top Six’ and ask, in this current football climate, would they fare better than their more certified colleagues?


Jack Butland (Stoke City)

Before his lengthy injury, Butland was one of the most in form goalkeepers in the Premiership, and was considered to be England’s number two after Joe Hart. But after Hart’s poor Euro 2016 performance and subsequent loan to Italian side Torino, the positon is far from secured. A goalkeeper with quick reflexes, a great claim and a loud voice which hastily organises his defence, once back to match fitness, Butland will be in a remarkably strong position to claim the number one jersey for his own


Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United)

Like Butland, Cresswell is undergoing treatment on an injury picked up in West Ham’s pre-season run of matches. His absence is arguably a strong influence on the Hammer’s immediate poor form and the former player of the year will be wished back to fitness by all situated at the new London Stadium. Attributed with strong stamina, a determination to defend and attack in equality, and at 26, the maturity to be able to cope with English demands, he can be considered highly unlucky to be left out of past squads.


Danny Simpson (Leicester City)

Yes, Leicester are the champions, but it seems people still disregard them as titans of English football. Simpson, playing the majority of games in Leicester’s title winning season, was found putting in consistently good performances and represented a resolved defensive mentality that ultimately was the key factor in Leicester’s success. The former Manchester United trainee isn’t afraid in making strides further down the pitch, and with the pace and direct approach he has developed, Simpson is a fine example of a modern day full back.


Scott Dann (Crystal Palace)

All those in south east London are flabbergasted as to why Dann has yet to receive his call up. The club captain is a leader of men, and a fine example of a man who is able to take the game by the scruff of the neck and drive his team onto victory. Vigorous in the air, controlled on the ball and able to score a high number of goals for a centre back, the scouse-born defender has performed admirably and consistently at a high level for many years now. 


Michael Keane (Burnley)

Another former Manchester United trainee who has worked his way up the leagues, Keane boasts a successful record at Burnley and a near omnipresent appearance record to match. He is a very popular player in Lancashire, and being young (23), he can only get better. Rumour mills constantly link him to moves to bigger clubs, but so far both Burnley and Keane himself have held firm.


Mark Noble (West Ham United)

Through U16 – U21 level, Noble has played his way through the England rankings only to find himself stalled at the finish line. Clearly a loyal player having played out his entire career in claret and blue, his experience, calmness, professionalism and leadership would serve England well. At the age of 29, he has over 300 games under his belt, and due to his attitude and skill, this will surely rapidly rise throughout the rest of his career. 


Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City)

All these players moved on by the residents of Old Trafford, Drinkwater is another example of what hard work and dedication can get you. A vital cog in the Leicester City machine, his ability to dictate a game was fascinating to watch. Having narrowly missed out on a place at Euro 2016 (courtesy of Jack Wilshire, a player who had played mere minutes of Premiership football last year) he has come close to earning more caps on the three he has already achieved in a three lions shirt.


Jordon Ibe (AFC Bournemouth)

A recent blockbuster summer signing for Bournemouth from Liverpool, Ibe has both time and ability on his side. Lightning quick, versatile, and tricky on the ball, he is a nightmare for defenders to play against. Before his move, he managed nearly 50 games for Liverpool, often being compared to the more established England winger Raheem Sterling. His form at the start of this season has been impressive, and at just 20, he has almost too much time to claim his place in an England strip.


Nathan Redmond (Southampton)

Another summer transfer, this time from Norwich City, Redmond is a player you want to go and see. A great close touch, speed to kill a full back, and a good cross to boot, this youngster will be terrorising defenders all season. Now at Southampton, Redmond has a real chance to showcase his ability and prove to people what he can do.


Troy Deeney (Watford)

A leader, a constant threat, but most importantly, a goal scorer. Working his way up through the leagues with Watford, he has not only become a local hero to those at Vicarage Road, but a real name throughout the league. Defenders know that they will be in for a real challenge when they face him. Now, arguably in his prime, it is the opportune moment to utilise his talents, and let him attempt to pursue an international career which mirrors the success of his club exploits.


Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)

A man who has already had a fairly successful goal scoring career with England, Defoe is about one thing; goals. Whichever club he has played for, he is a guarantee goal scorer. With 19 goals to his name in 55 appearances, it is his age that has cut short his international pedigree. However, by individually keeping Sunderland in the Premiership last year, and his continuously impressive goal scoring record, his name has to be considered amongst those strikers who could, and should, play for England.

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