Roy Hodgson has never shied away from making left-field selections in his England squads, but the melting pot of circumstances facing him ahead of this month’s friendlies make it almost unavoidable.
Spain and France are the opposition in a little over a week’s time and there is a theory that the Three Lions manager will field his strongest possible XI for those matches.
The thinking is that Hodgson will use the outings to get his main men battle-ready for Euro 2016 against heightened competition. In the past he has opted to test the merits of the many hopefuls auditioning for a place on the squad’s fringe instead.
However, over an entire team’s worth of absentees will ensure that a few abstract call-ups will still be made. Here’s three to look out for in particular:
Marc Albrighton – Leicester
No other Englishman has more assists in the Premier League than the former Aston Villa wide man.
Albrighton is one name being bandied around the game’s media as a possible England call-up. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are injured and Andros Townsend is rarely sighted, so there is a space to fill.
The Foxes are in fine form too, so Hodgson would be right to honour that by selecting from Claudio Ranieri’s crop.
Eric Dier – Tottenham
Ryan Mason and Dele Alli have both been selected by Hodgson from Tottenham’s midfield and it seems to be only a matter of time before the in-form Dier joins the list.
Successfully converted into a holding midfielder this term, the former Sporting Lisbon youth could shadow Michael Carrick in the squad with Jack Wilshere, Jordan Henderson and Fabian Delph either ruled out or short of fitness.
Aaron Cresswell – West Ham
Like Leicester, West Ham are in blitzing fettle in the Premier League and with a number of familiar faces unavailable at left-back, Hodgson may tip his hat at the impact Cresswell has made with a call-up.
Kieran Gibbs benefited from Luke Shaw and Leighton Baines’ injuries in the last squad, but is struggling to crack Arsenal’s first team, which could leave a gap for Cresswell to fill.
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