Adam Johnson of Sunderland claimed very publicly this week that selection for England is very much a ‘closed shop’ with only players at top clubs considered.
Johnson himself was being touted heavily for a return to the England set-up after a run of good form and seven goals in seven games.
However, the Sunderland winger didn’t feature in a panel of 30 players selected by Roy Hodgson for a recent friendly fixture against Denmark. The vast bulk of those players were from teams at the top of the Premiership.
Johnson is claiming that selection is not based on how well you play but who you play for. There’s certainly truth in what Johnson’s saying and it just doesn’t apply to England.
If you are playing at a top eight club in the Premiership then you tend to get more exposure and being very much in the public eye clearly enhances your chances of being picked for your country at international level.
When the England squad was named the only outfield players not from Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham, Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Everton or Southampton were Toronto’s Jermain Defoe and Cardiff’s Steven Caulker, both former Tottenham players.
“I think a lot of people were surprised,” said Johnson. “I think a lot of people saw me as almost a certainty, but if you look at the last squad it was almost all top eight bar Caulker, who wasn’t meant to be in it but for (Phil) Jagielka’s injury. I think that says a lot about the selection. I don’t think it really matters how well you’re playing, it’s who you play for. It’s a fact isn’t it? If you look at the last 10 squads: Southampton have been playing well, they’re in the top eight‚ and the rest are Everton, Tottenham, Man United, City, clubs like that.
“All my caps came when I was at City. Sometimes I got picked when I wasn’t playing. Now I’m playing more and I can’t get a cap.”
Johnson may be correct in his assertions but it won’t change the way players are selected for international sides or, indeed, help his own personal case.