Thursday, November 4, 2010

Waiting for the phone to ring

With his sterling display against Manchester City on the weekend, several pundits have tipped Wolves' winger Matt Jarvis as a possible inclusion in Fabio Capello's next England squad, which is to play France in a friendly later this month. Other possible call-ups could go to young Gunner Jack Wilshere, Sunderland central midfielder Jordan Henderson and Newcastle's hulking forward Andy Carroll.

Jarvis is a speedy right-sided winger who's proved a success in the Premier League despite humble beginnings as a trainee at Championship side (then relegated to League One) Gillingham. He was an essential part of their side and was sold to Wolves in 2007. He became a first-team regular at the Midlands club and Wolves clinched automatic promotion to the Premiership after his second year at Molineux. Unusually for a promoted club, Wolves' wing positions were thought to be a position of relative strength, but it wasn't Jarvis tipped to wow Premier League audiences, rather his left-wing counterpart "Twice Nightly" Michael Kightly.

Kightly has spent much of Wolverhampton's two premiership campaigns sidelined by injury and the ball has fallen at the feet of the Jarvis. Who's run with it. And run with it. Then crossed it. And kept running. Once tipped by the Gillingham chairman Paul Scally to play for England by age twenty-four, the media is now suggesting that Scally's skills as a prophet were bang-on - Jarvis is precisely that age. Fast - though not lightning quick - and extremely technically proficient, he's no doubt been more effective this term than some of his rivals for an England wide position like Aaron Lennon or Shaun Wright-Phillips.

But can a player from a team so thoroughly immersed in the relegation struggle really force Capello - a man who admittedly prefers the tried and true options - into selecting him for the Three Lions? His ability, dedication, form and game says yes: few wide players have his endeavour or technical correctness. Unfortunately though, he has four things counting against him: his name (or lack thereof) when compared to the virtually invisible Wright-Phillips; he is short a yard of pace when compared to the blistering pace of a Walcott or Lennon and finally, although he's not short on influence, Jarvis probably simply doesn't have the same tricks as Adam Johnson.

The fourth reason is Wolves' current tough situation. They sit mired near the foot of the EPL table, even following some admirable performances unrewarded with wins or even draws. Perhaps Saturday's win against City may change that. Indeed, what may sway Capello in Jarvis's favour is the surety that he would offer an England team. The manager would know 100% what he'd get from the right side when Matt Jarvis played that wing and that predictable endeavour isn't something with which Capello's England has been generously endowed.

If it is time to re-stock the England cupboard with new talents, then Capello could do worse than looking around the Premiership for players that he knows will respond to the call with a performance - it's long been a curse for England that their superstars have failed to perform with the same vigour in white as they do for their clubs. Bringing in new, fresh faces like Jarvis and Tyneside Bad Boy Carroll could prove the difference between a staid, boring squad at Euro 2012 (with a bog-standard English second round exit) and a team which can really throw a cat amongst some Spanish and German pigeons.

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