With a World Cup looming, Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez was firmly in contention for a place in England’s final 23-man squad after a stunning season for his club, until the cruellest twist of fate put a red line firmly through his name.
It now looks as if the player and his club’s worst fears are confirmed as the latest news puts Rodriguez out of action for six months having suffered the dreaded ACL damage to his knee, requiring surgery.
While the English public will be unanimous in wishing the Saints’ forward a speedy recovery, for other World Cup hopefuls the competition for places has been opened up again.
We’ll probably never know if Rodriguez has actually been saved the heartbreak of ‘that phone call’ from Roy Hodgson when the final 23 is announced, but other candidates are certain to come into the reckoning.
Best guessing must assume Wayne Rooney (1/50), Daniel Sturridge (1/20), Danny Welbeck (1/7) and one of Andy Carroll or Rickie Lambert (both 11/8 shots to be on the plane) are likely to be taken as the preferred four-man striking contingent for a major tournament.
Therefore it seems sensible to assume that Rodriguez’s inclusion would have impinged most on the chances of another player capable of playing in a wider forward role.
Step forward 8/1 shot Adam Johnson. The Premier League’s Player of the Month for February was harshly overlooked by Hodgson when he called up his latest squad for England’s friendly against Denmark.
The former Manchester City flyer has been a ray of sunshine in the Premier League gloom which has enveloped Sunderland and his tally of seven league goals since 2014 began is more impressive than any of his direct competition.
While the likes of Raheem Sterling (2/5) and Adam Lallana (1/5) are thought to be ahead of the fringe-player pack, AJ surely warrants inclusion on recent form over the ilk of Andros Townsend who can’t even get a game for Tottenham.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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