Date:Monday October 23 2006
Lack of caps - a good thing
Portsmouth have no current England internationals in their squad. Sol Campbell and David James may be asking for recalls, but are unlikely to get them as Steve McClaren has made his statement and a U-turn on the matter seems highly unlikely. (Just ask Beckham).
Gary O`Neil`s excellent performances for England at under-21 level made it seem like he was tipped for the top, but has never been strongly thought of for a call-up. You would like to think his unswerving loyalty to Portsmouth wasn`t the factor, but unfortunately could be the reason.
You could make the case for Glen Johnson, but lest we forget he has already made his senior bow, and has been brought back down to under-21 level. It`s unlikely he`ll be anywhere near the squad this season, and if Redknapp secures his services long term, maybe the argument can change, and some members of the squad will be looked at for England.
But to be honest, who cares? Portsmouth`s team has developed into a cohesive unit, playing together without the intense spotlight talk of England can bring. Sure, it can boost a player`s confidence, but how must Kevin Nolan of Bolton be feeling at the moment? He`s certainly been worthy of a place in the squad judging on past performances, but has never received the call, despite strong speculation to the contrary.
That can`t do the confidence any good at all. And it`s not like the Pompey team is devoid of international quality, nearly all the non-English players currently are or have pulled on their country`s jersey as well as the blue of Portsmouth, so we`re not missing out there.
What Portsmouth is missing out on is the media spotlight casting its gleaming eye over the squad on regular occasion, constantly asking questions of the players` skill and determination. Once a name gets mentioned as a potential international, his game changes as he seeks to impress not one but two managers. The thought of a call-up may be in a player`s ambition, but it`s different if they think there`s a real chance.
I can just see the response forming in some fans` minds. 'Not want an England call-up? That`s just calling Portsmouth a bunch of no-hopers, scraping the barrel of English footballers with no ambition or drive.` (or words to that effect…)
I`m not saying that I hope that Portsmouth never have a player called up to the England squad, because that would be madness. The sign of a call-up is generally a sign of a team playing well around him, and that would be a great thing. What I am saying is that speculation about an England place is harmful, and if Portsmouth can dodge the issue from one more season at least, then maybe players like O`Neil and Matt Taylor will warrant the place in the squad their ability clearly shows they deserve.
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