It has been a long time since England had the sort of midfield options that they have available to them now.
With this summer’s European Championships coming up in France, Dele Alli is shining in the centre of the pitch, and his form could see Ross Barkley miss out.
Alli made his debut for England in early October, after only playing in the Premier League for just under two months. The youngster really shot onto the scene in his fourth England appearance, though, when he fired home a wonderful goal from range in an emotional friendly against France.
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This was a goal that would catch the attention of the nation, and more importantly, England manager Roy Hodgson. Since this, Alli’s form for Tottenham has hit a new high, which has earned him a new long-term contract at the club.
This comes as particularly bad news for Ross Barkley, who is seen to be in direct comparison with Alli for an England spot. Since the France friendly, while Alli has hit top form, Barkley has done the opposite. He is no longer influencing matches the way he was at the start of the season, even though he is almost an automatic pick for Roberto Martinez at Everton.
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Despite the fact both will most likely be selected in the squad for the Euros, it is unlikely Hodgson will choose both for his starting XI. Both of them are attacking players, and the England boss will undoubtedly want players in his side who can do a job going the other way as well.
If they are fit, Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson are near certainties to make the squad. Both of these are players who Hodgson will trust to do the defensive work that he demands from his midfielders, something he will not get from Barkley and Alli. In the so-called ‘tougher’ games, he will probably go with three centre midfielders, meaning there could be at least one spot up for grabs.
If one of the two young midfielders is picked, it will be Alli. In the past month, he has been one of the top players in the Premier League, both scoring and assisting goals. His flick and volley against Crystal Palace was one of the goals of the season, and another volley against Everton in his first game of 2016 was pretty good too.
Barkley is capable of this sort of form, but he is yet to do it over a prolonged period of time in his short career. If he can finally do that in the second half of this season, he will join Alli on the plane to France.
As it is, Alli remains one of the most highly-touted players in England, and could eventually play a huge part for England in the Euros. If he can finally reach his potential, Barkley could play a similar role.