Before Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Stoke City occupied bottom spot in the Premier League table.
However, that didn’t deter Gareth Southgate from naming the Potters’ right-back Glen Johnson in his first ever England squad for the forthcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia.
Many England fans were baffled by the decision - Johnson’s last performance for his national team was against Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil - although it makes a bit more sense when you consider Liverpool’s Nathaniel Clyne was unavailable for selection due to injury.
Johnson used to be a pretty decent attack-minded full-back, capable of playing either on the left or right.
However, there’s no doubt he has regressed as a footballer since leaving Liverpool in 2015.
That Johnson wasn’t used by Roy Hodgson after the last World Cup suggests that he, along with Ray Lewington and Gary Neville, shared that opinion.
Neville responds to journalist's tweet
So, when one journalist tweeted that Johnson was “possibly the only one who did well” for England in Brazil and that it was “odd” he was dropped afterwards, Neville didn’t pass up the opportunity to reply.
Responding directly to the tweet, Neville replied: “Did he?”
Michael Cox, the football tactics writer who works for the Guardian and ESPN, then added: “You didn't think? Against Uruguay he drove forward particularly well when 1-0 down and created the equaliser, no?”
We’re still waiting on a follow-up tweet from Neville, although there’s a good chance he won’t elaborate any further. He will be acutely aware that criticising Johnson’s performances at the previous World Cup would inevitably create headlines.
BBC rated Johnson 5/10 at WC2014
So, how did Johnson perform in Brazil?
Well, BBC Sport handed the former West Ham, Chelsea and Portsmouth player a 5/10 rating for the tournament as a whole.
“Carried his uncertain form towards the end of Liverpool's season into the World Cup. Poor defensively and only redeemed himself with a fine cross for Wayne Rooney's equaliser against Uruguay,” his summary reads. “Surely only retains his place because of a lack of alternatives. Would expect him to go when one, possibly Liverpool team-mate Jon Flanagan, emerges.”
Johnson's surprise comeback
Instead it was Clyne who would take Johnson’s place.
With the Liverpool right-back out of action, though, Johnson now has an opportunity to add to his caps tally.
Was Glen Johnson any good at the last World Cup? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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