England manager wants Morrison and Berahino to increase his selection 'problems'
Roy Hodgson has challenged England’s emerging young players to add to his growing selection quandary ahead of next summer’s World Cup and specifically named Ravel Morrison and Saido Berahino as people who have come to his attention.
Both Morrison and Berahino have excelled in the Premier League this season for West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion respectively, as well as for the England Under-21 team.
“Ravel Morrison has burst on to the scene and I know he’s a player who interests you all,” said Hodgson. “He interests us as well. It’s fantastic the talent the lad has got. I think at the moment there is a very good group of players. I like the way the under-21s play, it’s a mirror image of what we are trying to do ourselves, their movements and passing ideas. Berahino has been a breath of fresh air, I know him well from my West Brom days.
“I suppose it’s going to be interesting in the next six months to see which of these under-21 players really mount a challenge. But I have to say also that the Danny Welbecks, Kyle Walkers, Jack Wilsheres, even to some extent Ross Barkley, have proved they can do it.
“So they have a few of their own youngsters to get past before we even start talking about Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney or Frank Lampard.”
Hodgson, though, does believe that his options have expanded hugely since he took over 17 months ago and knows that he now faces some genuinely tough choices when he comes to select his squad next May.
“Suddenly the solutions in terms of picking the teams are greater,” he said. “The other one of course is the emergence of Andros Townsend. I suppose you could say we have shown courage – Ray Lewington and Gary Neville must take a lot of credit because we discussed it between us. Sometimes you are lucky. You make a decision for the right reason. We knew he was the right type. The one thing we didn’t know before he went on the field of play was, 'can he now actually do it in these two vitally important games when there was a lot of pressure on him?’ Thankfully he did.”
Hodgson dodged the question of whether Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines was now his first-choice left-back but there was praise for the “old guard” of Cole, Gerrard, Rooney and Lampard. “You’re not going to jettison any players light-heartedly,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens when the time comes. I think it could be a very difficult decision. We’ve got a lot of very good young players coming through and we’ve still got the good old guard ready and able. It’s not going to be an easy time. That will give me lots of reason for thought. But at the moment I don’t think I’ll bother quite so much about it.
“Sometimes these things take care of themselves.”
Meanwhile, England under-21 defender Nathan Redmond yesterday sought to play down a bust-up between Morrison and Zaha during Tuesday’s 5-0 win over Lithuania. The pair clashed near the end of the match and had to be separated. “It was just a bit of a disagreement, nothing else,” Redmond said. “We got back in the changing rooms and sorted it out.