Why England should start Michael Dawson

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Tottenham captain Michael Dawson is probably the least appreciated central defender in England. 

Even though he has repeatedly performed well for his club, people seem to not take notice of it, with the Tottenham captain consistently failing to make the England squad. 

And this decision is especially bewildering considering the fact that England have not been able to find a consistent central defence partnership for the past few years even though various players have been tried out in different combinations. Here's why England should consider giving Dawson a chance.

Towards the beginning of this season, Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas found himself facing a centre half dilemma much like the one Roy Hodgson is facing now at England. When the duo of Steven Caulker and Jan Vertonghen both impressed reasonably as individual players, their coordination was found to be lacking as Spurs still leaked goals at the back. 

At this point veteran William Gallas was deemed a better option than Dawson, but this turned out to be more fragile than the earlier combination. It was only at this point that the Portuguese coach turned to club captain Dawson, and he has never looked back after that this season. 

Dawson's arrival in the starting lineup coincided directly with an upturn in the defensive fortunes of the club, with Dawson not just proving to be a rock in the centre, but also a charismatic leader. His form also prompted his coach to openly admit that he made a mistake in trying to sell Dawson to QPR earlier in the season. 

Being exceptionally strong in aerial battles, as well as having a supreme positional sense, Dawson could be an ideal fit in the centre of the park for the Three Lions. However, the main reason why Hodgson should seriously consider giving the Tottenham captain a genuine chance is his ability to organise the defence - a task that Dawson pulled off with ease for Tottenham, and which is sorely lacking in the England teams of late. 

It was this feature of Dawson's game that was the main reason for Spurs' mid-season defensive revival.

When comparing the individual statistics over the course of last season, we again find an argument in favour of starting Dawson. According to the ratings given by whoscored.com, Dawson had the best overall rating (in matches started) among all the England centre back hopefuls (namely Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Phil Jagielka).

He also had more clearances per match than any of them and was the least dispossessed as well. His aerial prowess is also evident from the fact that he has won the most number of aerial duels among the six of them. 

With such a player available to him, it is indeed strange that Hodgson has not yet called upon Michael Dawson to play for England, when he could easily be the best option available.

It defies common sense that a player of the stature of Dawson has only four England caps to his name. However, if he continues to play as he did this season, then national honours may well be within reach for this defensive stalwart.


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