England manager Roy Hodgson robbing Peter to pay Paul
Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Michael Carrick and Theo Walcott all miss out on places
Arsenal’s Theo Walcott has missed out on the England squad due to a lack of game time, although club mate Jack Wilshere has been included despite his injury woes. Photograph: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Explaining the omission of Everton defenders Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka, and Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick, from his Euro 2016 provisional squad England manager Roy Hodgson says he has “robbed Peter to pay Paul.”
“Leighton hasn’t played for us for well over a year,” the manager told the media upon his 26-man squad announcement on Monday. “He was injured for a long time and it’s good to see him back playing but in his absence people like Danny Rose, (Ryan) Bertrand and (Kieran) Gibbs have been filling the breach.
“Michael has played a part for us on a regular basis over these last two years and has been unfortunate with injuries but I’ve actually spoken to all three of those players and they were tough decisions.
“They’re players that I respect and admire but you have to make a decision and there are only 23 players so I decided that on this occasion I would rob Peter to pay Paul in the sense of taking seven defenders rather than the classic eight, to give me a chance to take one more player in the midfield and forwards section.
“Unfortunately that means no Phil and it was a tough conversation but that’s the kind of conversation you have to have, and I’m pleased I was able to speak to him before this announcement because I wouldn’t have been very happy if he’d found out from this press conference.”
Newcastle winger Townsend, who lost his England place while struggling to get a game for former club Tottenham, was preferred over his Arsenal counterpart Walcott.
“Andros was unlucky to lose his place in the squad when he wasn’t getting a regular game and he’s gone to Newcastle, got a regular game, and done very well there,” added Hodgson.
“Theo unfortunately has not got such a regular game over the last few months and has had a few problems with injury. It’s a tough decision of course but it’s one you have to take.
“We’ve worked very hard over these qualifying games to analyse and think about the players we think are right for this occasion and this time there are a lot of players who haven’t got a lot of experience in terms of international football.
“But I think that over the last couple of games we’ve played that they’re an exciting bunch. They’re hungry, enthusiastic and energetic and I think all of these things are positives.
“We can only hope that the faith we have in them is rewarded but the one thing I do know is that they won’t be letting anybody down for want of trying.”
Walcott was the surprise omission from Fabio Capello’s England squad for the 2010 World Cup, but the Gunners winger says he has already come to terms with this latest snub.
Walcott posted on Twitter: “I am of course disappointed not to make the squad, but I have spoken with Roy and respect his decision.
“I wish Roy and all the team the best of luck for a successful Euro’s.”
Arsenal team-mate Wilshere took to Twitter to express his excitement. The 24-year-old said: “Absolutely buzzing! I can’t wait to meet up with the squad and start preparing for the euros. Thanks for all the messages.”
Townsend, who last week suffered relegation from the Premier League with Newcastle, is hoping to end a disappointing season in style.
He said on Twitter: “Huge honour to be named in provisional England squad for the euros.... Will give my all over next few weeks to try and make final squad!”
By contrast, Drinkwater’s form with newly-crowed Premier League champions Leicester has earned him a spot and he is eager to stake a claim.
The midfielder told his Twitter followers: “Honour to be selected for the 26-man England squad! Looking forward to meeting up with the lads.”