Teenage star, a source of English hope
07 June 2012 | Fahraaz Patel
The injuries to Roy Hodgson’s men – Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and this week, Gary Cahill – have seen the coach lose influential players which has added to his injury headaches. But there is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was watching England’s dismal World Cup campaign with his friend in a pub two years ago and will now be donning the national shirt.
The £15-million paid by Arsenal to sign the 18-year-old from Southampton last season was immediately met with criticism, especially of Arsene Wenger’s shrewd transfer policy.
But the Frenchman’s trust in the youngster paid off with some sterling displays for the Gunners.
Oxlade-Chamberlain may have not been a starter for Arsenal, but from the 26 appearances he made for the north-London side, he showed his quality not only with his pace and skill, but also his ability to shoot and create chances.
So what makes him different to the other wingers Hodgson has chosen, especially with the coach’s more defensive approach?
James Milner is the type of winger Hodgson may start, given the Manchester City man’s more defensive approach.
Theo Walcott, for all his pace and trickery, lacks quality around the box yet he’s trying to develop that part of his game.
Stewart Downing on the other hand is a winger who lacks confidence as was seen in his first season at Liverpool.
Judging from this, it probably leaves Hodgson with one quality wide player in Oxlade-Chamberlain.
But the question is will Oxlade-Chamberlain be used from the start or will the England boss lean towards him as an impact player?
Hodgson’s lack of wide players in the squad may force his hand and start with the teenager, but then again there is also the small matter of style the coach enforces which may lead him to use Oxlade-Chamberlain as an impact player.
Looking at the weekend’s friendly against Belgium, the Arsenal winger was a breath of fresh air with his pace and skill.
But Oxlade-Chamberlain was also able to take his chances, albeit it all went wide of the target. Even if Hodgson doesn’t start the teenager against France – a match where the coach could enforce a defensive approach – surely against Sweden and Ukraine the coach may opt for the attacking approach and this will be perfect for unleashing the talented winger.
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